Re: festival responses

From: donald harrison (email suppressed)
Date: Mon Jun 15 2009 - 09:46:07 PDT

To follow up on Bart's comments, I think it's worthwhile for
filmmakers to consider which festivals they care about, how submission
fees support those organizations, and how much time those festivals
spend with each film, regardless of whether they get accepted or not -
usually 30min - 3 hours, depending on the length of the piece. To run
a film festival that's showing non-commercial and experimental work,
in a professional venue, and draw a sizeable audience requires
significant time and costs. If you value the role these particular
film festivals play and the opportunity to share your work in that
setting (and maybe attend, do a Q&A, win an award), then know that a
submission fee is helping to make that possible. I don't like that
public radio asks me for money twice a year, but I value it,
understand their realities and support it.

With the Ann Arbor Film Festival, we do rely on submission fees as one
of several important sources of income, despite managing thousands of
volunteer hours for the year, and don't see this changing unless we
dramatically scale back our efforts or uncover other significant forms
of funding. We try to grant waivers for filmmakers who demonstrate
need and ask respectfully. We spend considerable time raising money
for filmmaker awards ($20,000), arranging free housing and
transportation for attending filmmakers, drawing strong audiences and
working to reach the highest possible projection quality (we show
35mm, 16mm, multiple projector set-ups and digital work in native file
formats from hard drives) in our historic Michigan Theater home venue.
We send email notifications to every submitting filmmaker and
personalize as many as we can, though spam filtering prevents a few
from reaching filmmakers. This year we beta tested offering feedback
to those who requested it (post festival) in an effort to offer some
value to filmmakers whose work was not accepted and who paid a fee.
While this required a lot of extra time and many of the filmmakers
appreciated the comments/effort, our team of screeners aren't
professional feedback providers and we undoubtedly would need to
increase their training in this area to offer it again.

Many of us at film festival are also filmmakers and we understand the
frustrations expressed in this discussion (and we know there are
thousands of others with similar sentiments). We know it's
unacceptable to get no response from a festival. We know it can feel
like a waste of often limited funds to pay entry fees. And we know
that when your film doesn't get accepted, it's hard to know why or
trust that your film even got a fully fair viewing. I know I've
certainly felt these frustrations in the past as a filmmaker. And if
film festivals don't continue to find ways to listen and address these
issues (improving our systems, the value we provide, and how we
communicate), we'll lose our most important relationships with the
filmmakers and artists we're dedicating ourselves to discover, support
and showcase.


Donald Harrison
Executive Director
Ann Arbor Film Festival
office: 734.995.5356
email suppressed

The 48th Ann Arbor Film Festival | March 23 - 28th, 2010
The original North American independent film festival - established 1963

On Jun 15, 2009, at 1:33 AM, Bart Weiss wrote:

> well we get this on the fee question on frameworks about once a
> year so I guess it is time.
> While I really really understand the emotional and rational
> arguments against entry fees
> if we as a community want quality festivals we need to support them.
> there is a perception that arts administrators are just getting fat
> off of artists
> and perhaps some do but none I have met , most arts admin of small
> orgs do more work than any jobs I know.
> with almost no recognition. While the fest director is out doing the
> q and a and shaking hands, somebody is working backstage all night
> to make things happen.
> yes for a the first year you can get friends to donate this and that
> and get something up and running, but then the audiences gets to
> expect the picture and sound are good and the show goes on , on time
> and the program book/ web site is up and correct , and we have not
> lost you tape and spelled you name correctly, and we got an audience
> for you.
> And while we do have some volunteer help, we do have to pay some
> people to make sure they really s get the work done on time. All
> these people are underpaid, and grossly overworked. and for the
> most part unappreciated by the artists they serve.
> and for the record as artistic director of the dallas video festival
> I don't take a salary.
> and while we do charge and entry we do pay an honorarium for all the
> work we show.
> (oh and we are accepting entries now)
> and while we would probably still exist without entry fees it would
> have some consequence, less programs (would you like to have the one
> that was cut) smaller venues, not as good tech gear, no money for a
> publicist, and intern instead of a staff person checking to see that
> you work got here and is working correctly....
> Nobody wants to pay an entry fee and many are to expensive and who
> knows who looks at your program.
> I can tell you if you submit to my festival I will watch the whole
> thing.
> Bart Weiss
> Bart Weiss <01.jpg>
> Better Living Through Video
> president/video association of dallas
> director/dallas video festival
> Associate Professor/University of Texas at Arlington
> producer/frame of mind (KERA TV)
> artistic director/ 3 stars cinema
> home address
> 1405 Woodlawn Ave.Dallas Texas 75208.
> voice 214 948 7300
> email email suppressed
> for video fest info
> aim: videofest

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