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Old 10-08-2018, 02:13 PM   #1
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Films Festivals Can be Apples and Oranges

I wanted to give you guys an idea of a couple cheapo, low brow festivals I've been to.

Last year I got into Burbank Film Festival, and San Pedro film festival. I was pretty disappointed because I submitted to a TON of festivals, and only these two accepted me. I'm not trying to insult the festivals or their employees in here, but I think it's important to point out something. Some festivals were created specifically to make money, and may not put forth the effort to make it worthwhile for the filmmakers.

I'm not saying there aren't huge festivals that weren't created just to make money. But if it's a big festival with a lot of opportunities for good filmmakers, they obviously put forth some effort and made the festival a legitimate film networking event. Here is what I think of the two festivals above:

Burbank Film Festival: It's a new festival, and I had somewhat high hopes. However, it was a very young, student crowd. The "party," the festival threw beforehand was in the basement of a grip rental house, in a SUPER hot room, with $2 worth of finger sandwiches, but no plates or napkins. There was a thing of cranberry juice and some dixie cups. The festival itself had a plastic fold up table in front of the theater. Not a huge deal, but was tucked in the corner with one person working it, so it was clear it was a small fest. When I went in to watch the films, again, it was a very young, very excited crowd that were "walking the red carpet," for the first time. As we gathered to go into the theaters, it was clear I would just be watching my film and other films with only other filmmakers. We were just sharing our films with each other. No producers, no one searching for talent, no one there that wasn't there to view their own film. The volume in the theater was also WAY WAY too loud. Like, KILLING my ears...and I'm practically deaf lol....usually listen to the TV super loud at home. No one else seemed care, or they didn't want to say anything. Or they didn't know. I had to leave the theater to find the person running the thing to convince him it was blasted way too loud, and they turned it down enough to make it bearable. They also had a party that you could pay to attend, at the end of the festival. I was tempted to go....very tempted. You see, since the film industry is so exclusive, anything that looks like it could potentially get you in front of a producer will put pressure on you. But in this instance, and many many others, it would have been a complete waste of time and money.

San Pedro Film Festival: Stay the hell away. Stay far far away. When I got there, the teenage girl at the janky fold up table out front just said "are you a filmmaker?" and I said, "yes." Then she handed me a filmmaker badge. Did not check credentials at all. A homeless person could have walked up and been like, "filmmaker," and they would have gotten filmmaker credentials. Inside the theater, there was a film playing inside, one or two festival employees, and then there were two kiosks. The kiosks were a little ambiguous looking.....so I went to talk to the guys behind these cheap fold-up kiosks. One of em was in a suit, so why not see who he is? I went up and started asking him about the festival, trying to figure out who he was....then he slipped in there that I should buy this little air freshener he had....and I realized he was selling air fresheners....he was a little air freshener salesman....the other kiosk was selling umbrellas or something. The two other guys standing around were the guys running the festival. No one else was there. I peaked inside the theater....basically empty. I gave these folks $60 so I could go and view my own movie by myself in some really really crappy theater. I left before my film played, and I felt great about that. My second festival ever, and leaving it felt great, because I didn't let those assholes manipulate me any further.

It's very easy to let people lure you around with a false opportunity, because the film industry is so exclusive and nepotistic that most of us have ZERO CLUE how to break in, even if we have good work. But be selective with these festivals. A lot of them just want to collect a bunch of $60 submission fees, and in return they just rent a crappy theater and slap down a plastic fold up table in front.
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Old 10-10-2018, 01:01 AM   #2
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Conversely, little film festivals can be cool places to meet people, including future collaborators. We all would love to have our films exhibit in the big ones of course - but turns out we're not the only ones submitting to festivals. I've had the pleasure of hanging out, chatting and networking with all kinds of filmmakers - from newbies to seasoned pros at small festivals.

Depends on the festival obviously, but I wouldn't suggest turning away from all small festivals as not all of them will give you a bad experience
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