What price festivals?

A forum for sharing views on the art of film, video and AV sequence making as well as on competitions, judging and festivals.
Dave Watterson

What price festivals?

Post by Dave Watterson » Sat Jun 03, 2006 10:05 pm

In view of comments on how to pay entry fees ...
.... how much are you prepared to pay to enter a film in a festival?
.... and how much are you prepared to pay to attend for a day?

The three major British festivals all charge an entry fee for films.
Some overseas ones do not.

Virtually all festivals I know charge delegates to attend. Sometimes that
fee just gets you a seat in the audience. Sometimes it includes meals, drinks,
social and other activities.

Should entry fees depend on film length?
Should multiple entries get a discount?

Dave (penny-pinching) W.

Ned C

Re: What price festivals?

Post by Ned C » Sun Jun 04, 2006 6:06 pm

The AMPS Festival draws its entries from two major sources, pensioners and
students so we keep our entry fees at a level that will just cover the costs.
Most of the costs are in mailing out the judges comments and the award certificates,
framed here in N America and unframed overseas. We offer a 25% to 33% discount
to members and any (usually very small) profit we make goes to cover the
costs of the Newsletter which tends to exceed our annual members fees. We
have paid for advertising in a major US video magazine this year and we help
with the Ten Best of the West (TBW) which is open to film makers living in
the US and Canadian West. We pay no expenses related to the judging, it is
all voluntary.

We have a fixed time length (30 minutes this year) but can see how charges
could be varied on the length of the film. We believe there should be discounts
for membership of the organising body and on multiple entries, we offer both,
plus a couple of awards open only to members of AMPS.

The annual convention combines three Festivals, AMPS, AMMA (Amateur Movie
Makers Association) and TBW. This year it will last 2 1/2 days in Las Vegas,
the Convention charge is $130 (about GBP75) and covers breakfast, lunch,
coffee breaks and the Awards banquet and the meetinmg room and screen. Rooms
are $60/night for single or double occupancy.

On a personal level my limit for entry fees is about $15/20, add in mailing
costs at around $5 per entry.

In return I expect legible, timely, reasonable judge's comments. The BIAFF
is a model in this respect, we try and emulate their work,

Ned C

"Dave Watterson" <forums@theiac.org.uk> wrote:
In view of comments on how to pay entry fees ...
... how much are you prepared to pay to enter a film in a festival?
... and how much are you prepared to pay to attend for a day?

The three major British festivals all charge an entry fee for films.
Some overseas ones do not.

Virtually all festivals I know charge delegates to attend. Sometimes that
fee just gets you a seat in the audience. Sometimes it includes meals, drinks,
social and other activities.

Should entry fees depend on film length?
Should multiple entries get a discount?

Dave (penny-pinching) W.

Willy Van der Linden

Re: What price festivals?

Post by Willy Van der Linden » Mon Jun 05, 2006 7:12 pm

"Dave Watterson" <forums@theiac.org.uk> wrote:
In view of comments on how to pay entry fees ...
... how much are you prepared to pay to enter a film in a festival?
... and how much are you prepared to pay to attend for a day?

The three major British festivals all charge an entry fee for films.
Some overseas ones do not.

Virtually all festivals I know charge delegates to attend. Sometimes that
fee just gets you a seat in the audience. Sometimes it includes meals, drinks,
social and other activities.

Should entry fees depend on film length?
Should multiple entries get a discount?

Dave (penny-pinching) W.
The entry fees for BIAFF are OK. I agree with £10-12, but that's the limit.
I'm sure that some members of my club cannot afford taking part in some international
festivals, not even in BIAFF. Should entry fees depend on film length ? Yes
and no. Please, do not "punish" friends who make longer films. An entertaining/thrilling
film of about 25 minutes should be appreciated and a higher charge is not
a form of appreciation. We've already had numerous discussions about length
of films. As you know I also enjoy making "one minute movies" and I'm eager
to show them at festivals. £10-12, however, is too much for a "one minute
movie". The Croation Film Festival is free, but last year (2005) I took part
with 4 shorties and I didn't receive any reports. That was a pity. One of
the BIAFF-judges had noticed that my sperm cabin in my "one minute movie"
"More sex, please !" was not a sperm cabin at all. It was well-observed,
because in the film the length of that part of a shot is only 7 images. I
was very pleased with that remark. Should multiple entries get a discount
? Of course. It's a form of encouragement.
In Belgium there aren't any international film festivals. That's a pity.

It's clear that delegates must not be charged to attend. They should be spoilt.
The organizers should be happy that people from abroad are willing to represent
their country. I admire Christiane and Martin Bracke for instance who attend
a large number of international festivals in Europe. They're not asked to
do that, but I'm sure they spend a fortune on these festivals. Is that right,
Martin ? I doubt if our own national "leaders" are really interested in international
festivals. Perhaps my tongue is a little bit too sharp now.

Dave Watterson

Re: What price festivals?

Post by Dave Watterson » Tue Jun 06, 2006 12:27 pm

Perhaps I should explain that there are two widely used styles of film festival
for non-commercial movies.

The three main UK ones all have pre-judging all the way. The film makers
get written comments on their entries. The audience who attend the festivals
see a selection of the prize-winners.

Many European festivals use pre-judging only to produce a short-list. Then
the judging panel watch that short-list of film together with the festival
audience. The judges are expected to discuss the movies with each other and
the audience before choosing the prize winners. They rarely give written
notes.

Each approach has its strengths and weaknesses.

An additional complication is the number of movies generated each year in
the country concerned. In Germany, for example, so many new movies are entered
that the only way to have a manageable national competition is to work through
localy heats, then regional heats. That means that films face the vagaries
of several diferent judging panels on their way towards the top.

In the UK so few movies are entered in competitions that we do not have a
purely British national competition and festival. All three top events (BIAFF,
Cotswold and Guernsey Lily) are international in scope.

Dave (ever informative!) W

Willy Van der Linden

Re: What price festivals?

Post by Willy Van der Linden » Tue Jun 06, 2006 1:56 pm

"Dave Watterson" <david.filmsocs@virgin.net> wrote:

Each approach has its strengths and weaknesses.

An additional complication is the number of movies generated each year in
the country concerned. In Germany, for example, so many new movies are entered
that the only way to have a manageable national competition is to work through
localy heats, then regional heats. That means that films face the vagaries
of several diferent judging panels on their way towards the top.

In the UK so few movies are entered in competitions that we do not have
a
purely British national competition and festival. All three top events (BIAFF,
Cotswold and Guernsey Lily) are international in scope.

Dave (ever informative!) W
Yes, Dave, but I think that in England or Britain there is a purely national
competition : the northern regions against the southern regions. It's a bit
like the American Civil War, isn't it ? Of course I'm exaggerating.
In Belgium we also have to work through localy heats, then regional heats.
Most film makers are stressed then. The younger film makers in my club hate
that kind of competition. They even prefer competitions on websites.

Ned C

Re: What price festivals?

Post by Ned C » Tue Jun 06, 2006 2:13 pm

I enter films into Festivals primarily to get feedback so those Festivals
which provide no feedback and give everyone a "Diploma" are not very helpful.
Its audience reaction I want to hear about so if I can't be present I have
no idea of the impact of the film or what was good/bad so there is no learning
experience.

Ned C


"Dave Watterson" <david.filmsocs@virgin.net> wrote:
Many European festivals use pre-judging only to produce a short-list. Then
the judging panel watch that short-list of film together with the festival
audience. The judges are expected to discuss the movies with each other
and
the audience before choosing the prize winners. They rarely give written
notes.

Each approach has its strengths and weaknesses.

Willy Van der Linde

Re: What price festivals?

Post by Willy Van der Linde » Tue Jun 06, 2006 6:59 pm

"Ned C" <ned@amptvideo.com> wrote:
I enter films into Festivals primarily to get feedback so those Festivals
which provide no feedback and give everyone a "Diploma" are not very helpful.
Its audience reaction I want to hear about so if I can't be present I have
no idea of the impact of the film or what was good/bad so there is no learning
experience.
You're quite right, Ned. That's exactly what I thought. The Croation Film
Festival for instance didn't give any feedback. In Portugal (Algarve Festival)
I was given a diploma, but that was it. I was not very satisfied. There were
no written comments. I didn't learn anything. It does not mean that I am
eager to be offered congratulations. On the contrary ! All criticism is more
than welcome. It's instructive. On the other hand I must admit that I'm proud
when looking at some of my medaillions or seal awards whether they are gold,
silver or bronze seal awards. There isn't anything wrong with it, I think.
I always hope that people don't think I'm full of conceit. I'm not chasing
awards at all. I don't want to "buy" diploma's, medaillions or cups. I always
do my utmost to encourage and help my Belgian or Dutch friends and filmmakers
to take part in international festivals. In fact I create "adversaries" myself.
If they win then I'm perhaps happier than the winners themselves. The stronger
the entries of my friends are the more challenge there is and the standard
of the international festival as well. I always have the ambition to make
good and entertaining films. That's all. That's my ultimate "target". But
stop now, Willy, otherwise people think that I'm too proud of myself.

Dave Watterson

Re: What price festivals?

Post by Dave Watterson » Wed Jun 07, 2006 12:15 pm

"Willy Van der Linde" <vanderlindenhig@telenet.be> wrote:
You're quite right, Ned. That's exactly what I thought. The Croation Film
Festival for instance didn't give any feedback. In Portugal (Algarve Festival)
I was given a diploma, but that was it. I was not very satisfied.
What happens with the Belgian and Benelux festivals, Willy? If the film maker
is not present to hear whatever the judging panel says, is there some other
form of feedback?

I'm looking forward to the Festival of Nations in a couple of weeks time.
But that too only offers comment to film makers whose works are shown and
who are there to hear the jury and audience discuss it. The nice touch is
that the author (film maker) is encouraged to take part in the discussion
and there are virtually no limits on how long any discussion goes on if people
are keen to talk about the movie.

By the way ... my spies tell me that at the recent Austrian National Championships
there was uproar when some of the jury felt they could not vote on one of
the entries - Bernhard and Karin Hauseberger's "Ein etwas anderes Jahr" (A
Rather Different Year). The movie deals with how they faced life when Bernhard
was diagonosed with lung cancer last year. It includes personal glimpses,
details of chemo therapy and its side-effects and an operation where a part
of his lung was removed. Since the Hausbergers plan an English language version
this film might well be challenging juries in UK and USA before long!

Dave

Ned C

Re: What price festivals?

Post by Ned C » Wed Jun 07, 2006 1:59 pm

Do you know why jurors felt they couldn't vote?

Ned C


"Dave Watterson" <david.filmsocs@virgin.net> wrote:
By the way ... my spies tell me that at the recent Austrian National Championships
there was uproar when some of the jury felt they could not vote on one of
the entries - Bernhard and Karin Hauseberger's "Ein etwas anderes Jahr"
(A
Rather Different Year). The movie deals with how they faced life when Bernhard
was diagonosed with lung cancer last year. It includes personal glimpses,
details of chemo therapy and its side-effects and an operation where a part
of his lung was removed. Since the Hausbergers plan an English language
version
this film might well be challenging juries in UK and USA before long!

Dave

Dave Watterson

Re: What price festivals?

Post by Dave Watterson » Wed Jun 07, 2006 10:07 pm

"Ned C" <ned@ampsvido.com> wrote:
Do you know why jurors felt they couldn't vote?
I understand it was because they were too upset by the content of the film
- or by the emotions that it aroused in them thinking of relatives who had
died of cancer.
Dave

Willy Van der Linden

Re: What price festivals?

Post by Willy Van der Linden » Wed Jun 07, 2006 11:25 pm

"Dave Watterson" <david.filmsocs@virgin.net> wrote:

What happens with the Belgian and Benelux festivals, Willy? If the film
maker
is not present to hear whatever the judging panel says, is there some other
form of feedback?

As I told you, Dave, in Belgium there are local and regional heats.
Local heats : there is good feedback. I'm often asked to be a judge in one
or another club. After the competition the judges tell the filmmakers what
they think about the films. The filmmakers get the opportunity to ask questions.
That's sometimes a very difficult moment. Not all filmmakers accept criticism.
Their film is always immaculate. They sometimes don't understand that the
judges just want to help them to make even better films in the future. So
the judges must always be very diplomatic, very prudent... They must always
try to encourage the filmmakers. Every year a number of filmmakers are disappointed
and leave their club because they think that bad judges have been chosen
to evaluate their film(s). Of course that's ridiculous. But it happens very
often. In my club I organize it in an different way. The five judges receive
an evaluation form. They answer questions like : "What do you think about
the structure of the story ? Is it powerful/entertaining... ? What do you
think about the choice of music/the editing/the photography etc ? Of course
I also ask them to give a score ... 55% ... 68 % ... 77 %... 85 % .... After
every three or four films the judges get some time to deliberate, to have
a discussion about the films that have been shown. They can still change
their scores. Of course the filmmakers must not listen to the discussions.
I take these forms home. I read them and one week later I tell the filmmakers
what the judges have written. I always try to be as positive as possible,
because sometimes one or an other sentence written by a judge could be misunderstood/misjudged.

Regional (in Belgium 'provincial') heats : there is no feedback at all. The
judges never tell you what they think about your film(s). They just give
a score. That's all. Urbain Appeltans, who's the president of one of the
Flemish regions, is a bit rebellious. His region is the only one without
any local heats. He says that not all clubs in his region have enough films
to organize a local competition. So in Limburg you can only take part in
the regional competition, but it's well-organized. The films are shown behind
closed doors. The judges get enough time (about 15 minutes) to write their
comments. They're asked to be as positive/constuctive as possible. Some weeks
later the proclamation takes place. The filmmakers who attend the proclamation
are offered a simple but good meal at a reasonable price. Between the main
course and the dessert the filmmakers are asked to sit down on the stage
one by one. Their film is shown. After that Urbain reads the written evaluation.
The style is always encouraging. Of course this system is only possible in
a small region. Obviously Urbain has found inspiration in BIAFF and the Guernsey
Lily Festival and I appreciate that very much. I'm totally against the system
in the other regions. Maybe Urbain's system is not possible there, but they
should do something to give feedback to filmmakers.

National competition : There is no feedback at all. The results are announced
two minutes after every film. It's not a pleasant moment. You don't get the
opportunity to have a chat with the judges. You don't receive any written
comments. After three or four weeks there is a proclamation. You already
know your score, but maybe you have won a special award. You're obliged to
attend the ceremony because the organizers have kept your film(s). You can
get it (them) back after the proclamation.

After every regional and national competition there is a reception, but the
judges are not present.

Benelux Festival. If there are too many films, then there is a pre-selection.
The selected films are shown in three or four days, one after an other. There
is no feedback. It's similar to our Belgian competition. The only difference
: The scores are not announced. The last day (=Sunday) there is a proclamation
ceremony. The winning films are announced and this year only extracts of
these fiction films/documentaries were screened. That was not good. I made
a daytrip of 440 kilometres to get my film back, to receive a diploma and
to see only parts of winning films. Luckily I found some people who had
seen my film. It was screened on Wednesday. I didn't stay in Luxemburg for
four days because accommodation was too expensive and of course, like anybody
else, I cannot go to every international festival. I give priority to the
British ones. After the Benelux Festival there is always a reception and
on Saturday night there is a Gala Dinner. Friends told me that it was excellent
this year.

Dave Watterson

A festival league system?

Post by Dave Watterson » Fri Jun 09, 2006 12:28 pm

"Willy Van der Linden" <vanderlindenhig@telenet.be> wrote:
As I told you, Dave, in Belgium there are local and regional heats.
Interesting. As in Germany a film must move up through heats from club competitions,
to local competitions, to regional competitions and finally to national and
international ones.

The Germans explain that there are so many movies entered in their country
that you need a system of heats to reduce the number in the national final
to a manageable size. I guess it must be the same in Belgium.

Should we consider that approach in the UK? Would that bring in some of the
movies we see at Regional events which are never entered in the national
ones?

--------

The question of feedback is interesting - spoken judgement depends on the
judges being articulate ... able to express their views clearly and tactfully
without much time to consider their words. I am a quick writer but it takes
me a fair amount of time to prepare each written comment that I make on films
if I am judging in any of the three UK top festivals. I always revise the
comments to try to ensure they are tactful and helpful.

--------

You mention the problem of getting your film back, Willy. Would the organisers
not post it back to you after the event? That's what all of our festivals
do.

Of course there is an increasing trend to encourage people not to ask for
their films back. The cost of a mini-dv tape or DVD is so small that this
should not be a problem. It was very different when we used cine film and
had to send of our precious original movies.

Dave

Willy Van der Linden

Re: A festival league system?

Post by Willy Van der Linden » Fri Jun 09, 2006 2:52 pm

"Dave Watterson" <david.filmsocs@virgin.net> wrote:
You mention the problem of getting your film back, Willy. Would the organisers
not post it back to you after the event? That's what all of our festivals
do.

Of course there is an increasing trend to encourage people not to ask for
their films back. The cost of a mini-dv tape or DVD is so small that this
should not be a problem. It was very different when we used cine film and
had to send of our precious original movies.

I'm sure that the organisers would not send it back. That's what they tell
us. I'm sure that they fear that most filmmakers would stay at home. I think
it's because the ceremony is too formal in Belgium. I have the impression
that they don't want to change it. Some years ago our CvB-chairman (department
films) was very angry. The ceremony took place in the month of June. It was
a sunny day. I think that most participants prefered the sunshine to the
darkness of a festivity hall. One year later we were obliged to come otherwise
we didn't get our film(s) back. I agree that the cost of a mini-DV or DVD
is low, but I'm sure that a number of filmmakers still attend the festival
to have it back. The distances in Belgium are not so long. 100 miles is a
very long distance in Belgium. Not in Britain. To be honest : the organisers
also told us that they want to keep the mini-DV's and DVD's because they
want to show the winning films at the ceremony. That's a good reason I must
admit. On the other hand I was surprised that not any Belgian VIP was present
at the ceremony in Clervaux (Benelux Festival)... I met Piet van Eerden for
instance, but he is the former president of the Dutch IAC which is called
NOVA. I had a chat with him. He's a very kind man. But where were our Belgian
delegates ?

How could we solve the problem of moderate attendance ? In my opinion our
organisers should be more creative. They should do their utmost to create
a more relaxing atmosphere at the proclamation ceremony. Strange, but in
fact Unica was a good example. Believe me or not, luckily there was no Belgian
atmosphere in the Blankenberge Casino ... also thanks to the British team.
Their introduction for instance was unforgettable. I wonder what my compatriots
Martin and Christiane think about it. I myself still remember our regional
and nationals heats in the "Golden Seventies and Eighties". Hundreds of people
attended the competitions. There was also quite a lot of chatting at the
bar during the intervals. Everybody talked about films. Has the mentality
changed in the mean time ? Yes, I think so.

Now after all and thinking harder, perhaps there is a similar problem in
England. Or am I wrong ?


There is also an other thing. In the "Golden Seventies of Eighties" all filmmakers
received a commerative medal. In it their name and the title of their films
was engraved. Now they receive a diploma printed with a computer. Could that
be one of the reasons ? Also in England the "gold, silver and bronze seal
awards" have disappeared. Not all filmmakers are eager to receive cups and
trophies, but I'm sure that some filmmakers are. I can feel it in my own
club. To be honest : I remember that I was very proud when I received my
first bronze medal at our local competition. That's one of the reasons why
I still spend some money on medals in my club. I've already seen that some
friends display them in their living-room.

By the way, yesterday Urbain Appeltans had to go through an operation that
was planned months ago. Everything seems to be alright. I saw him at the
Benelux Festival in Clervaux and he looked much better than in Bedford. I
had a chat with him last week.

Ned C

Re: A festival league system?

Post by Ned C » Fri Jun 09, 2006 3:41 pm

"Willy Van der Linden" <vanderlindenhig@telenet.be> wrote:
"Dave Watterson" <david.filmsocs@virgin.net> wrote:
At AMPS we ask for entrants to add postal costs if they want their films
back or pick them up at the Convention. As Dave says, media costs are so
low now that the return mailing may cost more than the film. We have archived
all the unreturned films and are trying to work out where we can deposit
them, a university film department would be good provided they provide a
catalog and are willing to give access. These films may be very useful to
scholars in the future.

Attendance at meetings and Conventions, if the objective is to watch films
then late Fall or Winter, are the best times this is a problem if the Convention
is to combine film watching and tourism. For the the younger working population
then weekends are the only option.

It is nice to receive something more than a certificate but cost is the problem
unless the organisers can find a sponsor to provide awards, otherwise entry
costs go up.

I only wish we had the problem of having to run heats here in the USA!

Ned C

Dave Watterson

Festival lottery?

Post by Dave Watterson » Sun Jun 11, 2006 8:40 am

If you go to the trouble, time and expense of making a movie ...
what are you buying when you pay to put it into a competition?

Are you shelling out for some critical comment - written or spoken?
Or are you shelling out on the chance of winning a medal / trophy / cash
prize / glory?

Maybe if we boycotted festivals where there is no feedback ...


Dave

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