Festival Submission fees

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Do you pay for Festival Fees EVEN if a festival does not want to show your film?  Does it vary between festivals? I guess I could see the potential event happening, where I spend $80.00 for a festival application and get rejected? IT WILL happen to someone, so....Do you still pay that $80.00? And if so, what exactly are you paying $80.00 for if you don't get to show your film? Id like to know before I start looking at sending films to the 5000 festivals listed. My guess tells me that will be $200,000 to send films into all of them. Wondering if it could possibly be worth it? 
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jon hyers

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Posted 6 years ago

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gromit82, Champion

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I am not a filmmaker, but my understanding is that yes, film festival application fees are not refundable if the film is rejected.

Assuming that you don't have a spare $200,000 lying around the house, I would recommend being more selective in terms of which festivals you submit to. A post at http://stephenfollows.com/film-festivals-pt1-the-truths-behind-film-festivals/ indicates that only 1,735 festivals had actually been held in the last 12 months, and of those, some of those are not even going to be appropriate for your film (say, they only screen animation, or only documentaries, or something like that).

In addition, there are a significant number of festivals that don't have entry fees (see http://stephenfollows.com/the-economics-of-film-festivals/).

There are quite a few web sites out there that have advice about how to submit to film festivals (some of which contradicts the advice on other web sites), but I haven't seen any that advise filmmakers to spend large sums of money on bulk submissions to every film festival in existence.

I hope this helps. Good luck!
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Steve Gluck

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I would suggest only submitting to festivals which are within a day's drive or so - so you can attend the screening, possibly introduce the film, handle the Q&A, network, and participate as much as possible in any other relevant events like panel discussions. All of that takes time, though, so plan on committing a few decades or more to it ... (but only if you're truly serious about it). 
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jon hyers

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Thanks for the reply. I'm in Minneapolis putting me more than 2-3 days aways from all of them except the one held in Minneapolis, and they don't care about films like mine, because they are a HIGH ART focused theater, not a "Look at someone whose made a Harry Potter kind of film for less than $100k".  It was rejected when I thought about entering it in 2013, pretty much stopping any hopes of a local showing. In fact, I'll never apply there again. I've been at it for 30 years. Maybe I'll take a chance sometime, if I can discover which festivals might led to something, other than making money by giving them my Free Film, which they can show an charge for. 

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