01 Apr 2016

Filmmakers & Film Festivals

I really admire and respect film festivals when they provide feedback with a personal note about your film, how it was screened, how it was received, as well as the payment of an artist’s fee. It really shows that they care about what you are doing and this is some form of recognition to you as an established filmmaker (a recent example being Victoria Film Festival). Most importantly you feel that what you are doing is not in vein and that your efforts are actively recognised and cherished. This sort of behaviour is very encouraging and pushes you to struggle harder and make more personal films.

On the other hand, I have had countless experiences with film festivals over many years that have been discouraging and ultimately extremely unprofessional towards the artists. They do not send any communication that your film has been rejected; you get nothing! After paying a ridiculous submission fee you must then go to their website and find out for yourself. I also strongly believe that artists should be paid a fee for their work if selected. I am mostly willing waive my due artist fee and consent to pay a small submission if the programming is of a high standard. The few festivals that I am willing to do this for have extremely low submission charges (between $10-$20) and they provide decent programming.

Nevertheless sometimes you have to compromise, especially if you have produced an experimental feature film and in this case I have often paid extortionate amounts. It perplexes me that the ever-struggling artists must pay such insane amounts of money to these festivals! We can barely survive on the conditions we have and we are still required to pay and feed these establishments all the time! In some cases they don’t even watch your film, but thanks to the internet and streaming platforms you can easily check the links, the geographic location of the viewing party as well as other statistics in order to find out if your film has been watched, and if so by how many minutes.

That is exactly why I admire some (of the very few) festivals that seem to at-least care about your work and show this in some way, considering the films personally whether they are rejected or accepted. Most of all, that they communicate to the entrants in some manner- even by automated email. If the film is successfully chosen and screened, a personal touch is much appreciated. Everything in the film festival circuit, distribution system, public screening arena, and other such networks are based primarily on contacts and connections. Submitting work without these connections and hoping to be accepted is utterly senseless. Obviously there are exceptions and I hope these unique festivals grow more and continue to support the filmmakers. Without the filmmakers there would be no festivals. Onwards!

Rouzbeh Rashidi

Special thanks to Victoria Film Festival