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Old November 26th, 2004, 02:12 PM   #1
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Do film festivals require FILM?

I gather from looking at withoutabox.com and several festival websites that they almost all accept VHS or DVD copies of your entry for initial review.

Am I also understanding correctly that, should they accept your entry for showing at their festival, your final submission usually can be digital as well? In other words, are they getting to the point where a movie shot on miniDV is often NOT required to be transferred to celluloid?

If so, that would be a tremendous savings of effort and MONEY.

(Without the celluloid roadblock, it might even inspire me to do something artistic and see what happens!)

Happy Holidays!
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Old November 26th, 2004, 02:25 PM   #2
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That is for their review, not for eventual presentation! It is convenient for them to receive VHS or DVD so that they can review the submissions at home or at the office. It is not an indication whether or not they will accept to show a movie that is only video. You must check with each individual festival to see what their policies are regarding whether they will project video. Many theatres are not equipped to project video.
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Old November 27th, 2004, 10:29 AM   #3
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I'll snoop around festival web sites and read a little deeper into withoutabox.com. But from the looking I've done so far, it sure seems like a lot of these web sites are high on glitz and low on factual information. Most seem to be targeted more at selling tickets to their festival than actually helping filmmakers enter.

Most of them DO say what formats they accept for review, but then DON'T say anything about the actual showing of an accepted film. From the web sites, filmmakers would have no idea what they'd be getting themselves into should their film be selected to be shown...16mm, 35mm, HD, DVD, DV, etc....the cost differences would be huge depending on what format the festival requires. I suppose part of this is a matter of experience, but this seems like pretty basic-but-necessary info to me that should be readily available...like on the web sites!

I guess if each filmmaker needs to individually contact each festival to find out what format they'd have to produce, that's what they'll do. Just seems odd to me as a scientifically-minded type who's had no previous involvement in film that such basic info doesn't seem to be readily available. What am I missing here?

If anyone has been through the whole film festival process from beginning to end for either convert-to-film or stay-digital, I'd be interested to read brief descriptions of the experience.
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Old November 27th, 2004, 10:39 AM   #4
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I've been in a few. There are many, I believe, that will screen from a digital source (most like DVD, some accept miniDV tapes, a few do whatever). I would say if you are unable to transfer to film, you still have many many festivals to choose from. Maybe not the super high end ones, but then again, maybe so.
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Old November 27th, 2004, 01:33 PM   #5
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Thanks, Josh. Knowing that one could try dipping a toe into the artistic waters without having to commit large sums of money is an encouragement.

All the best!
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Old November 27th, 2004, 02:14 PM   #6
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I'm talking out of my ass here, but seriously, if most film festivals required film transfers, a lot of artists probably wouldn't be able to enter! Especially if they've done features. The Houston International Film Festival (otherwise known as Worldfest Houston) screens on video, as do several others I've actually been in. I think I may have even heard that Sundance has digital projectors now, but don't quote me on that. Yes, you're right, the final screening format should be on the site. Could it be the festivals you've looked at so far are all damn fools? Keep in mind, there are (I think) more than 600 film festivals in the U.S., and it seems like anyone anywhere can all of a sudden have his/her own film festival. Try to be picky about where you enter. If you win, you want to win somewhere with some prestige. Don't really know how to tell from a festival's site how prestigious they are, but if it's the "first annual" anything, that's generally not a good sign (though I won $50 in a "first annual" for my movie about a talking penis, so there you are).

I've also heard a nasty rumor that a lot of festivals only actually look at their first several submissions, and then just throw the tapes/DVDs out and keep the submission fees. I really hope that isn't true (anyone got the inside track?). In any case, might be better to submit way before the deadine, rather than very close to it.

Hey, you're in Houston! Neato!
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Old November 27th, 2004, 02:31 PM   #7
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I belive you're right about Sundance. I'm also wary of a lot of these festivals. Does anyone know of a site anywhere that lists rankings of festivals to help you avoid the ones that just want to collect a lot of entry fees? Moviebytes does this for screenwriting contests. It's a very helpful site.
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Old November 27th, 2004, 05:18 PM   #8
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Well, Withoutabox does a good job of listing EVERY festival around, and describing them fairly well. But you have to do a fair ammount of reading between the lines.

Just to add to Josh's comments. Try and chose the festivals that have "cachet"... unless you have a ton of money to spread around. What constitutes "cachet" ? Have they been around for a while? (Ten or more years is good, though I think Austin is just about that old, and is certainly doing well, they started out as a "screenWRITERS' festival at first). Do they generate interest from studios? (How many films are bought/sold based on screening there?) What sort of panels and audience do they draw? (Big name stars, directors, writers? Large crowds in many venues? Small crowds in single venues). Have some serious films premiered at this festival before? What is the PRIZE? (Money, options, contacts contracts, prestige?) Does a screening there enable your film (specially a short) to qualify for the Academy Awards? And of course, what's the entry fee and format requirements.

And finally, is your film right for this particular festival? The Bay Area Gay and Lesbian Film Festival might not be the place to air your documentary on Flyfishing.... (Then again, who knows?)

By the way, the same criteria holds true for me when I send out screenplays as well as as finished films.

Good luck.
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Old November 27th, 2004, 05:41 PM   #9
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<<<-- Originally posted by Pete Bauer :
Just seems odd to me as a scientifically-minded type who's had no previous involvement in film that such basic info doesn't seem to be readily available. What am I missing here?
-->>>

What you're missing is that not all organizations will put all of their information on a website. What you need to do is *call* someone by phone. Maybe this is done by design so that they can vet you by voice. If you are going to go through the trouble of putting a proper submission together, the least you can do is find out all you can about the festival before sending out your hopes in a parcel.
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Old November 28th, 2004, 09:56 AM   #10
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Thanks, everyone; great words all 'round.

Well, Josh, your ass (and apparently other nearby body parts) seems to speak quite eloquently, indeed! ;-) Since we are both in Houston, maybe one of these days the parts of our anatomy above the shoulders could chat about these weighty issues over a brew?!?

Marco, if such a review site doesn't exist...well, it should! Great idea.

Richard, thanks for the very good insight. However, discretion being the better part of valor, I'm just gonna pass on making comments regarding any association between the lesbian festival and fish.

Keith, from the festival's point of view, what you say makes sense. There are those that exist to nurture budding filmmakers (like ostensibly Sundance -- which is one that DOES mention about formats), but I suppose that isn't necessarily true of many or most festivals. I'm sure some take themselves seriously and don't want rookie/idiots like me taking up their time; others maybe really exist just to make money, others...who knows. I already feel just a little less clueless!
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Old November 28th, 2004, 10:08 AM   #11
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Pete: sure, except for the brew part.
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