STEPHEN FOLLOWS DISCUSSES SEISMIC SHIFT IN FILM FESTIVALS

by root

Back in April of this year, a few weeks before we launched www.filmfestfinder.com - the independent festival review site - Stephen Follows, an award-winning writer and producer at Britain's Ealing Studios, who researches data and statistics in the film industry, wrote an extraordinary article on "The Seismic Shift in the World of Film Festivals." Follows has given us permission to share portions of his article here on filmfestfinder's blog and link back to his site. Although the subject of his article deals primarily with the changes within WithoutABox and FilmFreeway, the information and many subsequent comments thereon give insight into all submission platforms listed here.

After outlining the antiquated system of submitting films to festivals prior to 2000, Follows describes the "heavenly" entrance of WithoutABox:

..."Then, in 2000, along came Withoutabox. *insert angelic chorus*  Withoutabox was such a breath of fresh air for filmmakers as they solved many of the biggest problems in making multiple submissions to film festivals…. (see article for details here)

"In the modern world, this is the kind of service we expect from all submission sites, but try to think back to what filmmakers faced pre-2000 and you can appreciate how revolutionary Withoutabox was. In fact, they were so new that they filed for a patent. I doubt if many users even knew that Withoutabox had a patent, but it was this granting of a patent in 2004 that would go on to cause so much pain for the film festival world.  

By 2008, Withoutabox had grown to become a major force, with 125,000 filmmakers using their site to submit to over 2,000 film festivals. Thanks to this success, that year Withoutabox was bought by the Internet Movie Database (IMDb) for a reported $3 million. This was welcomed by filmmakers as it meant that it was much easier for them to add their films to IMDb, gaining all-important industry credits on the de facto database of record."

When the honeymoon is over for WAB, enter Film Freeway in 2013:

"If back in the year 2000, Withoutabox was the perfect solution for the modern filmmaker’s festival submission issues, then FilmFreeway was a perfect solution to the issues of the modern filmmaker.  They offered a reliable, fast, online video screener system and they didn’t charge filmmakers for using it. At the time, Withoutabox was still charging $2.95 per submission (not per film, this was every time you used the online screener service to submit your film) and were not yet in HD, much to the chagrin of filmmakers.

"The FilmFreeway interface felt modern and was quick to use. By comparison, the Withoutabox system was based on the same basic code used when the site had been launched fourteen years earlier in 2000. In 2011, festivals had been told that the Withoutabox technology would be revamped but that was later put on hold. Therefore, it wasn’t hard for FilmFreeway to seem like the knight in shining armour.

"Festivals also loved their pricing strategy as they offered completely free listings to festivals without submission fees (unlike Withoutabox who were charging up to $2,000) and their fees were under half of what some festivals paid Withoutabox. FilmFreeway charged festivals 8.5% of submission fees processed, although this could be reduced to 7% in return for a tweet and a logo on the festival page. Taking a lesson out of Withoutabox’s playbook, they offered their lowest rate (5%) to festivals who exclusively use their services."

PLEASE NOTE THAT WITHOUTABOX DID REVAMP THEIR WEBSITE THiS YEAR AND BECAME COMPETITIVE WITH FILMFREEWAY ON COSTS.

To read the entire article an excellent comments that follow, go here

Excerpted from Stephen Follows' Article "The Seismic Shift in the World of Film Festivals."