Below you’ll find a dated article about film festival submission fees and a well-constructed argument of reasons to not pay entry fees. This sentiment still rings loudly today among filmmakers, as I’ve recently found out. I’d like to take a moment to relay our submission process and entry fee protocol here at Skyline Indie Film Fest. And for anyone for whom this was previously unclear, please note that the following is our process and if it was relayed to any filmmaker by anyone, including myself, as otherwise, I apologize.
We take submissions from filmmakers the world over. Local filmmakers do not get special exemption and must pay the fees. Established filmmakers do not get special exemption and must pay the fees. No one gets into this festival because they are the mutual friend of anyone involved with the festival. My screeners and judges are anonymous until the festival lineup is announced. Period.
Occasionally a filmmaker requires a screening fee and it can be arranged that the entry fee to the festival is waived in exchange for the filmmakers screening fee also being waived. This is simple economics in the festival’s best interest.
We charge the $25 entry fee to subsidize the time, energy, postage, and other resources which, as festival time approaches, become considerable. From getting the films from screening committee to the judges, legal documents, rental equipment, car service, volunteer coordination, deposits on venues, travel, hotel, food and more. All of this must be paid for in advance and potential sponsors are weary with solicitations that come almost daily so frankly, there is little money to be had from sponsors. The festival will recoup some expenses from ticket sales but that revenue also has to be split with the venue in most cases.
As the director of Skyline Indie Film Fest, I do not screen the films as a rule. The festival committee screens and votes on each film and majority rules. If they rule in favor, congratulations, you’re an official selection of our festival and your film will now be sent the judges. The judges will critique each official selection by the criteria prescribed at www.skylineindiefilmfest.org/rules/ and relay to me their thoughts on each. This is as simple and streamlined as it gets. We request the films come to us on a disc but have allowed links to the films hosted on various sites to accommodate the filmmaker and reduce postage. We’ve allowed electronic payment via Pay Pal so international submissions do not have to exchange local currency for dollars or buy checks. We do what we can to get the programming but we can’t give the festival away. At least not now. When this festival gets traction and can afford to do so, we will gladly drop the entry fee. But for now, if $25 dollars is too much for you to spend, I wish you well and good luck in the future, may your film be successful.
In closing, I am fully aware at the potential to make a profit from an upstart film festival is dismal for the festival itself. But I labor on and entrap my friends and family to assist me and make demands on their time and the time of other like minded film enthusiasts. We want to see the films! We respect your time, effort, and expense as a filmmaker and would expect a little appreciation in return. Only by working together and not as “us and them” can we bring audiences to the films and thereby foster the indie spirit.