From: J.C. Cortlund (email suppressed)
Date: Thu Mar 09 2006 - 11:52:16 PST
I want to second Jason Halprin's remarks. And not to drag out an old topic even further, I'd like to share my personal perspective with those who think festivals shouldn't charge fees...
As someone with a foot in each world--a filmmaker who also helps run a small, independent festival for experimental/AG works (for no pay, I might add)--entry fees (in combination with grantwriting, fundraising events, membership programs and merchandise sales) are a critical income source for just covering the basic needs to put on a festival.
Filmmakers who only want their work screened on film? That's great. But it means you have to have decent projectors for multiple formats and a qualified projectionist to show the work as the artist intends and protect the prints from damage.
You need to rent spaces for the shows and you need to pay for some of the publicity (website hosting, call for entries, a festival catalogue, posters, ad space...) so that a decent audience turns up.
And this doesn't even take into account staff--99% of whom in our festival's history who have never earned a penny for the hundreds and hundreds of hours that go into programming and planning a festival each year.
That's not to say there aren't crummy festivals out there who charge exorbitant fees ($50+ per entry), offer no exemptions to previously screened artists or international entrants or students, and who are obviously just selling "picks and shovels" (the only folks who really got rich during the Gold Rush).
When I send out my own work, I budget my festival fees as part of distribution. I typically limit myself to festivals who charge under $40 and I read their back catalogues to see what kind of work they program. If they're showing a lot quirkiy romantic comedies from USC and UCLA, then it's probably not gonna be worth $30 to me for them to reject my 5 minute experimental about sad circus animals.
Suffice to say--the best festivals out there are probably struggling make it just as much as the filmmakers are. Better to do your homeowrk and show a little empathy for the folks who want to help you find an audience for your work.
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