View Full Version : Film Festivals Playing the Odds


rockerrockstar
02-08-2012, 09:46 PM
I found this on a blog today on the subject of film festivals.


"Film Festivals, Energy Drinks and Playing the Odds
Attending a film festival is exhausting. You race around town to screenings and stand in lines throughout the day. Then at night you run around town to parties, sometimes several of them.

Iím not about to complain. Leading a life in film is an immense privilege and I try to remind myself of it all the time. But thereís no question that festival-going can take its toll on your body. On more than one occasion at SXSW, I thought that there should be festival volunteers on 6th Street handing off Gatorade to badge holders. Kinda like a marathon, only minus the running.

Instead, in reality, the sponsors of film festivals are always trying to ply you with massive amounts of incredibly unhealthy stuff. Among the free ďrefreshmentsĒ offered at SXSW this year were cigarettes, fried fish, inordinate amounts of beer, whiskey and tequila, and an ďenergyĒ drink with so much caffeine that its container cautions to ďlimit intake to maximum one bottle per 4 hours.Ē

Iím not saying I didnít partake of some of this stuff. Iím justÖ well, Iím the son of a nutritionist. I think about these things.

I also think about the health of film festivals and the filmmakers that they host. Seeing the long lines and sitting in (or being shut out of) the many sell-out screenings in Austin certainly confirmed that SXSW has a healthy prognosis.

For filmmakers, though, Iím less certain.

As the barriers to making a film continue to be lowered, I fully expect submissions to SXSW to double within three or four years. Assuming the number of films being programmed remains the same, the acceptance rate will drop to something like .5% or even lower. Thatís not a typo. Thatís half of one percent. SXSW is not alone in this; other, similarly prestigious festivals will have roughly the same odds of acceptance.

I grant you, the odds of getting your film into SXSW (1% this year) are better than, say, the odds of winning the Powerball Jackpot (1 in 195,249,054). But, then again, the cost to play is higher for festivals. Iím not just talking about festival entry fees. First youíve got to make your film.

Similarly, the payout ratio for the Powerball ($1 for a chance at +/- $350,000,000) is far better than that of making a movie. Most filmmakers and their investors would love to just double their money. As we all know, many films donít make their money back at all.

This isnít an argument for quitting film and instead playing Powerball. Most people making films at this level arenít solely in it for the money ó theyíre in it because they have stories to tell. At least, thatís why Iím in it.

But considering financial sustainability has to be part of the equation too. If itís not, wellÖ itís not sustainable.

And part of that means that filmmakers these days need to ask tough questions both of themselves and of film festivals:

"When you consider the costs of festival entry fees, festival travel and lodging (if not provided), food, and promotion (posters, etc), how much are you paying, per head, for each audience member that saw your film?
How much are you paying for each review or blog post that fest screenings generate about your film?

If your film sells out a screening, where does that money go? Will you see a penny of it?

Are you comfortable paying for people to pay others to see your film?

In the final cost-benefit analysis, are festivals worth it?

What do you get out of the deal?

I mean, of course, in addition to the free cigarettes, beer, and energy drinks.

Weíve known this for a while, of course, but it bears repeating: For the independent filmmaker, festivals used to be the answer. Now theyíre the question."-

Here is the blog I found this from
http://www.selfreliantfilm.com/2010/03/film-festivals-energy-drinks-and-playing-the-odds/

rayw
02-08-2012, 10:05 PM
Nice article.

Be sure to read the few comments below at the link.

(Look, RRS! All one color)!

;-)

DeJager
02-08-2012, 10:13 PM
I like to look at it this way... I raced USMTS dirt track modifieds for most of my life until this past year and we'd spend like $30,000 on one motor and we always had numerous spares (I had great sponsors and crew). The cost to race per year to even be competitive is well over $100K but you know what we got for 1 win... like $500 and the bigger races that were almost impossible to win were like $2,000-$5,000 to win. Unfortunately, there are like 10 drivers always run towards the front all year.

The point of my little story is that you gotta pay to play and sometimes you just have to do it because you LOVE doing it... not because you'll ever make money. If you can make money off of it then great but for most of the people out there doing it... it's for the love of making movies.

:)

rayw
02-08-2012, 10:27 PM
... we'd spend like $30,000 on one motor and we always had numerous spares (I had great sponsors and crew). The cost to race per year to even be competitive is well over $100K...
Not at all to dismiss your core point of making films for love of the art's sake (which is 100% A-okay with me), but I think figuring out a way to similarly secure sponsorship of indie films is a POSSIBLE route to consider.

Yes.
Blatant. Vulgar. Product placement. In our indie films. A practice EXACTLY like other competitive industries successfully engage in.
http://www.google.com/search?tbm=isch&hl=en&source=hp&biw=1599&bih=815&q=nascar+sponsorship&gbv=2&oq=nascar+sponsorship&aq=f&aqi=g1g-S9&aql=&gs_sm=3&gs_upl=2178l2178l0l3220l1l1l0l0l0l0l70l70l1l1l0
http://espn.go.com/sportsbusiness/s/stadiumnames.html

Essentially "Here! Watch our cool film. And if you notice the blatant product placement (a la WAYNE'S WORLD)... that's okay. Enjoy the film just the same".
LAjXYfTtGas

God knows if the JAMES BOND films can get away with it...

GuerrillaAngel
02-08-2012, 11:04 PM
One can bump up your film festival odds considerably by targeting your film towards festival screeners -- avoid the things that make them moan and groan. A lot has been written about this elsewhere (not here though that I know of).

rayw
02-09-2012, 08:55 AM
Not at all to dismiss your core point of making films for love of the art's sake (which is 100% A-okay with me), but I think figuring out a way to similarly secure sponsorship of indie films is a POSSIBLE route to consider.

Yes.
Blatant. Vulgar. Product placement. In our indie films. A practice EXACTLY like other competitive industries successfully engage in.
LOL!

http://www.filmthreat.com/features/28662/
Nothing new under the sun, eh? ;)

DWF
02-13-2012, 05:38 PM
One can bump up your film festival odds considerably by targeting your film towards festival screeners -- avoid the things that make them moan and groan. A lot has been written about this elsewhere (not here though that I know of).

Your speaking right up our alley! Every year we see a trend with submissions. Then we will get some that make us question the filmmaker. Yes, we like new ideas and stories but don't try to go so extreme that your going to make us want to hit the stop button after we've just seen the title.

GuerrillaAngel
02-13-2012, 06:16 PM
Your speaking right up our alley! Every year we see a trend with submissions. Then we will get some that make us question the filmmaker. Yes, we like new ideas and stories but don't try to go so extreme that your going to make us want to hit the stop button after we've just seen the title.

I learned most of this from Robert's blog! :)