You don’t need to be reminded that it can be tough to decide on which film festivals are worth the entry fee, which is why MovieMaker’s editors compile our annual list.
Another tool to come along is Film Fest Finder, a new Portland, Oregon-based website that launched in April that aims to make that process a little bit less painful by offering a forum for rating and reviewing the circuit.
“We are here to help filmmakers find the right platform, find the right festival and make life easier and more affordable,” says writer/producer Donna Pizzi, who co-founded the website alongside PC Thompson, a music video director and documentarian. “The reason we [built Film Fest Finder (FFF)] was so that others wouldn’t have to go through what we did to get our film seen at festivals.”
What were some of those obstacles? For one, a lack of clear information about submission platforms—for example, the various international markets and territories each platform caters to. Pizzi and Thompson once accidentally submitted their film to same festival on two different platforms, which lost them an entry fee. “Sometimes it is not clear if a given festival is a real venue, with butts in seats, or if it’s online only,” Pizzi adds.
FFF also helps filmmakers spot the bogus festivals. Thompson and Pizzi recount their experience discovering that a first-time festival that supposedly had six simultaneous events occurring around the world was, in fact, a sham. When the pair contacted the purported venues, venue owners claimed to have no knowledge of the advertised film festival.
Beyond that, Thompson and Pizzi simply want to help festivals excel by providing them with feedback on how to improve.
FFF, which is free to use, features a Yelp-like rating and review system for more than 7,000 film festivals from around the world, searchable by city, state, country and rating. (A quick look reveals that the vast majority of reviews are positive.) Each festival’s page notes the submission platform(s) it employs, ranging from industry biggies like FilmFreeway and Withoutabox to lesser-used ones like Click for Festivals and Festival Focus (so that “double submissions are eliminated,” says Pizzi). This also enables filmmakers to compare costs of entry.
“We want to motivate people to make decent, fair and well-balanced critiques,” says Thompson. To that end, FFF suggests topics such as lodging, special activities and accessibility of location to users penning reviews.
FFF isn’t the first festival review site to ever be dreamt up; it might, however, be the most active, as reviewing on similar sites, such as Film Festival Lounge, seem largely dormant. To separate themselves from the pack, FFF’s founders emphasize accuracy, making sure that every reviewed festival is indeed operational and that the contact information is up to date.
Users can look forward to a forthcoming app version, as well as additional features, as yet undisclosed. MM
This article appears in MovieMaker‘s Summer 2016 issue, on newsstands in July.