Should You Use Online Film Festival Submission Platforms?

Today, as promised before I will talk about online film festival submission platforms. I will try to give you an insight on how they work and let you know whether  I prefer them or not,and  why I chose to make them part of my experiment.
I got introduced to online film festival submission platforms when the senior programmer from Frameline 38 San Francisco LGBT International Film Festival, Peter L. Stein said that I need to submit the short documentary through Withoutabox and if I don’t have an account there I should do one ASAP. I set up an account and I was surprised at how much detail goes into it, half of it was gibberish to me.

born that way on withoutabox

It took me a while to get used to this platform, and as you can guess is not my favorite . I had a fee waiver code for Frameline 38 but usually Withoutabox charges you per submission to any film festival over the film festival submission fee, even if the film festival has no submission fee, Withoutbox still charges you a small amount.
While browsing for film festivals, I stumbled upon another film festival submission platform called Film Free Way. I decided to give it a trial run with two films: Born That Way and Life through the Lens. The platform is easy to navigate through, very straight forward and it does not charge you per submission. If the film festival has no submission fee, you do not owe any fee to the platform, you just click submit.
Since I’ve been using Film Free Way platform, the films have been rejected only once but I am still waiting for 10 to 13 film festivals to send their decision.

The rejection/acceptance status of Born That Way and Life Through the Lens

The rejection/acceptance status of Born That Way and Life Through the Lens

I am still in the process of understanding how the online film festival work and how can I get the most from this experience. Most often I use these platforms to browse for film festivals and narrow down my search and apply directly from the film festival website.
The online submission platforms advertise great network opportunities, easy access and advocate a ‘green’ submission style. But I think sending application packages with hard copy synopses, pre-screeners that you can actually touch and having this rapport between you and the film festival/film festival programmer is a unique experience for a filmmaker, that is just starting to navigate through this uncharted territory.

My advice is to try first the traditional way of submitting to film festivals this way you learn more, you interact more with the film festivals and you learn to appreciate the meticulousness of preparing a submission package.

If you are curious you can check other platforms for online film festival submission:
Festhome

ShortFilmDepot

Reelport

Film Fest Platform

Film Festival Life

Click for Film Festivals

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