Re: Entry Fee Rereredux

From: Jason Halprin (email suppressed)
Date: Fri Mar 10 2006 - 13:11:21 PST

--- email suppressed wrote:

> "Dismissing all festivals as the same is like saying all museums are
> the same."
> I'm glad you compared Museums to film festivals. lets frame it
> another
> way. Museums are there to support the work of art and artists don't
> have to pay the musems in order to have their work shown.
> In film, the filmmakers & videomakers are ask to financially support
> the festivals, and the festivals only screen a tiny amount of work
> that
> is submitted. Further, an individual filmmaker has no way of knowing
> if
> their work will be looked at, let alone by a qualified judge, or that
> they will be contacted by the festival regarding the acceptance or
> rejection of their submission.

I'm not glad that festivals have been compared to museums. IMO a more
appropriate analogy would be galleries. Note that museums do support
the work of artists, and in most cases, the artists they choose to
support have previously (or are still) represented by a gallery that
takes a (usually) large cut of any work that is sold.

Galleries do not charge artists to display work, so it is a different
economic model than a festival that does. However, like a gallery,
festivals provide exposure that will potentially lead to a higher
stature for the filmmaker.

I'm going to make the assumption here that all these posts have not
been talking about only A/G festivals. With that in mind a good way to
decide whether or not an A/G festival has a "qualified judge," as you
put it DH, is to look at the work they have shown in the past. If you
are familiar with some of the work and think highly of it, or lowly,
you can assess the qualifications.

Many A/G festivals also suffer financially when it comes to getting the
local community to donate because it can be near impossible to explain
that you are not trying to create another Sundance. An A/G festival is
usually not a place to network for financial gain, sign distribution
deals, or a vacation for actors and directors, three things an Arts
Council in the US is likely to assume when grants proposals are being
reviewed. Cinematexas, PDX, Onion City, and others are not seen as
culturally more valuable than Sundance in the eyes of the vast majority
of potential financiers and donors, and if they hear about the
economics of A/G work in distibution they are likely to wonder why
anyone would put effort into a film festival that doesn't show movies.
Perhaps some of the non-Americans on the list would like to chime in on
whether this is the case everywhere?

On a related note some potential donors will want to know about the
fiancial side of a festival, so should you if you are thinking about
paying a submission fee. Does the festival make money? Does it have a
paid staff? Are venues/promotional materials donated? Are donations
made with strings attached?

One of the basic facts that exists for many A/G film and video makers
(in the US and elsewhere, though not everywhere) is that they will
never recoup the costs that are associated with their work, let alone
turn it into a full-time profession. As such it is more accuratley
described as a hobby, and hobbies are money-losing ventures.

If you are against paying fees, look for free festivals. Or volunteer
for one so that your labor may bring down the fees for that festival.
Write the grant proposals, talk to donors, make press releases, pass
out flyers, get on the radio, do whatever it takes. It is already
difficult for most of us the share our work with people we don't
personally know, so if festivals are not a necessity, they are a luxury
I believe is worth paying for.

-Jason Halprin
(In the interest of full disclosure I have paid submission fees, I've
asked for and gotten fees waived or reduced, and I've worked with a
number of festivals. I've even been paid for festival work on one
ocassion. On other occasions though I've encountered cell phone
overages, many miles on my car, unreimbursed expenses of all kinds, and
working out of less than stellar offices, and by office I mean my car
and/or living room. And it was worth it.)

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