Where does all the money go?

Just curious.

When I finished my “Ins Dunkel” film project, I registered with two websites, reelport.com and withoutabox.com to easily submit and promote my film to national and international film festivals. They basically offer the possibility to upload your film for a few bucks or even for free, and to then send the film online to festival calling for entries who use their service, too.

Whenever I submit my film to a festival it costs me 2€ (at reelport.com). That’s pretty cheap compared to burn a DVD, put it in a box, print all the submission materials, put in an envelope and ship it abroad. Withoutabox charges a bit more, but I suppose this is because most of American festival want a filmmaker to pay a submission fee, usually around 30$ or so.

If you’re a festival you have to pay for registration with those websites, depending on which services you use.

In June, I applied to Bristol Encounters festival, just because I’d love to see my film in that place of the world where a big part of my animating career was formed. I got a rejection letter (I mostly do) and it basically said, sorry, we got 2000 submissions and were are able to show only 10% of them. 2000 times 2€ per submission makes 4000€ for the reelport company for this single festival.

I then recently became a juror of an international animation festival and they expect up to 600 animated film that we have to see and judge. I found the sheer number overwhelming. 600 films with an average duration of approx. 5 minutes make about 50 hours in front of my screen.

Imagine you have to watch 6000 films. The jury of the Shnit sortfilm festival had to do this recently (at least they stated that in their rejection letter). Like, fucking six thousand times 5 minutes of film. This is a huge amount of lifetime for the jurors, and I can’t really believe that they’ve watched every film to the end. And 6000 submissions add up to 12000€ for reelport. Not bad.

This really is a win-win situation, isn’t it?
The indie filmmakers have to pay only a few bucks to get their films submitted and spend the rest of the day lazy at twitter or so.
The festivals get a huge amount of submission, that they’re probably not able to watch and so they can choose the easiest way and chose films they already heard of. And the best: not sending rejections letters or mails anymore because the film makers can check on the website if they’re chosen or not.
Plus, the submission websites do something good, because they can pay their employees and make it easy for anyone to feel good without actually doing to much.

But where does all the money go?

Into art and film projects again? In funds and scholarships for filmmakers that need some support?
Well, I don’t know much about reelport.com, but withoutabox.com belongs to imdb.com which is owned by amazon.com (source: Wikipedia, Dec 12, 2012, 12:17). Just saying.

I have no problem if someone makes money by offering a good product or service. I’m just not sure if this actually is a good service to the indie filmmakers when the festivals then aren’t able to watch your films properly. I applied for more than 30 festivals on reelport so far, and didn’t get one screening opportunity. I applied with an ordinary DVD in an envelope to four festivals so far, and got one screening. This is worth further investigation I think, not only for us filmmakers but also for the festivals I think.

I’m curious if this just my “stupid websites, I got another rejection” rant or does anybody else have similar experiences? What are your experiences? Did you try those websites?

Jess ★

12. December 2012 by Jessica
Categories: Stuff | Tags: , , | 2 comments

Comments (2)

  1. Very informative, Jessica. I didn’t know any of that process.

    Seems to me that these days an online festival would fulfill the purpose of offering the widest possible exposure for a work.

    And perhaps not even a formal festival per se but in fact simply YouTube and/or Vimeo themselves is the largest (and free to use) screening of works created thus far.

    How to collect a work’s audience in the ocean of clips is the eternal question. Being remarkable, and to a smaller portion of the public volume, also being of worth and substance, seems to connect the elements quite well?

    • Shelley, I think you’re right! In today’s online world it’s not so much about being on festivals but about getting your work seen by your own right people.

      Thing is, since making films is so easy nowadays, there’re simply much more films available that want to be seen by people. I think film festivals are great opportunities because they offer a good possibility to reach a big audience and to get in touch with nice people, but at the same time we have to make sure that we try other channels as well…

      But there still is the question why I should give a big bunch of money to gatekeepers if I could use it for making art instead?