Since Coyote is finished, I’ve been working in two directions. One is to reach out to independent reviewers to help reach new audiences. From the responses I’ve gotten, I have to say, most of these guys and girls are genuine. They aren’t trying to make a buck off of artists who live and die by their work. Here‘s the beginning of what will hopefully become a lengthy list of reviews for Coyote.
In my experience, film festivals have been of a different nature. Withoutabox makes it so easy for people to screen a couple of films in their basement, yet charge 50+ dollars for submission fees. The economy of all this seems corrupt. I’ve been told by festival directors that submission fees are the only thing that can pay for the overhead of the festival. This is a terrible argument unless your film festival is free to the public. It’s basically saying, “we can’t sell our tickets. No one’s going to show up for the films except the festival coordinators and the filmmakers. Give us money.” If they can’t bring in a crowd, what’s the point in submitting your film at all? Many festivals expect the filmmaker to do the grassroots promotion they need to bring an audience, but that takes longer than a day to achieve. That festival isn’t going to pay for your travel or lodging either.
That’s even if they accept your film. In my earlier days, I flushed a good deal of money submitting to fests with a mission statement that seemed to appeal to me. Please, if you ever plan on submitting to any film festival ever, get in touch with the festival director before you ever touch a form (certainly before you cut a check).
That said, in my recent quests for suitable festivals for Coyote, I’ve found some really great ones that have responded to my emails and questions, and seem to have a passion about showing films that they love. I’m clinging to the hope that I’ll stumble into some weird arena where festivals will be mostly legitimate. Horror and foreign festivals have had a 50% (ish) success rate in correspondence, and that seems like a magnificent shift from my genre-less USA only search in prior years.
Here’s my suggestion to you wannabe filmmakers out there… When you do your research on festivals, skepticism is your friend. If there’s a large submission fee ($50 bucks is way too much…If your job was to sit around and judge movies… not even judge them with forethought and reason; just good or bad… How much would you expect to be paid for your services?), and admission to the festival costs 10 dollars or more, something is wrong. If no one returns your emails, that’s a big fucking red flag.
Please learn from my mistakes, and don’t contribute to a corrupt economy of scammers. Find the festivals that are real people and support those guys, and in turn, they’ll support you.
If you find yourself completely disenfranchised by festivals, seek out those bloggers and inject a little optimism into your life.