It's been a while since I've had a wee bit of a rant on this Blog but I'm currently entering a music video I directed and shot for a musician in Melbourne. I've been out of the 'major' festival entry game for a while now, having made several short works that have been accepted by independent media festivals with installation themes etc. I recall in the past the advent of 'Without a Box' and my opinions on hooking cash from strapped filmmakers under the guise of making life easier for audience hungry filmmakers to have their work viewed by the masses. Without a Box aside, I've once again been coming across film festival after film festival that requires an entry fee ... and not a reasonable paltry sum to cover small administrative costs but requests for a tidy wad with no indication that your entry will even get a look in.
A festival that asks for a donation or requests 5-10 dollars per entry I have no argument with, it's a token of good faith that may keep the festival going through-out the years, but when fees hit the $25 mark or more, that's when I begin to think there's a little problem here that is stifling one big channel filmmakers have to get their work in front of an audience.
If a festival gets 300 entries at $25 a pop, they are pulling in $7500 - that's a little exploitive as far as I see it. I realise that festivals pay for publicity, venue, sometimes even staff, licensing, and whatever other bits 'n' bobs they need but in that last category, I also know they like to have nugatory things like t-shirts, name tags etc that are a complete waste of resources and should be scrapped in order to lower the entry fee. Also, volunteers are good for staffing, a few cheaper venues can be found that can support the festival instead of one large expensive one, downgrade the projection and viewing technology (Audiences will not even notice - well most, apart from the filmmakers who attend and they are the most likely to complain, so stop it, you've made no royalties from all the other unsuccessful entrants so spare a thought for them), publicity is more effective with word of mouth, social networks etc and not posters - so either print cheaply or save the environment and think up some alternative ways of getting the festival plugged.
If each festival I come across out of 20 film festivals has a $25 fee attached, that's $500 I've spent submitting my film, and I could make another film from that - never mind that only 3 out of that 25 may accept the video I have submitted. So, I really do think that these festivals who are charging sum after sum of entry fees are actually helping to reduce the numbers of filmmakers willing to submit their work and ultimately assisting the 'industry' to struggle even further to find audiences and create films. So I think that either festivals should buckle up and lower their entry fees or promise the accepted filmmakers a little more than just a listing in the festival program and a screening. How about they bundle up some real outcomes for the filmmaker? Future royalties, a meeting with a producer, a definite spot in the next festival with a new work - or something, just something to make the parting of that day's wage a little sweeter.