Film Festivals Paying Short Film Makers

Cheques Over the last year, I have had a wide range of experiences at film festivals – some amazing, many good, and a handful, well, terrible. One thing that has sometimes struck me at some badly organized festivals is the lack of respect for a basic agreement – here is the deal, implied I might add, but a deal nonetheless (as I see it anyway).

‘I will give you my film which I worked very hard on, you will give me a great screening in return, that you work very hard to fill’

Many times I have attended a festival to have only a handful of people turn up to see a DVD projected with very bad sound. This is very disheartening. I have on occasion asked the festival directs about this, and it of course, it comes down to money. When feeling brave, I remind them that they get all the box office takings, so maybe they should work harder to fill that room? Remember, they keep all that money. If they did their job well, we should be having packed houses – I get what I want, they make some cash to cover costs and maybe even accommodate a film maker? Sadly, this is not always the case (though there are many exceptions, such as Sedona which was packed at every screening).

In the whole year I have where we have played at umpty thrumpty festivals, we have never received ANY payment for screening ‘Gone Fishing’ (nor did we expect any). And then, just like the Number 37 Bus, two cheques turn up on in the post the same day. $80 from the CFC World Film Festival and $96 from Nickel Independent Film Festival. Both also wrote very nice letters saying thank you and also committing to rewarding the film makers. So thank Ruth Lawrence (Nickel) and Eileen Arandiga (CFC), every little helps keep our boat afloat.

So, if you have a film and want to play in Canada, I recommend that you consider submitting to both of these festivals as, if you get in, you will actually make a little money back.

Onwards and upwards!

Chris Jones, Film Maker and Author

2 Responses to Film Festivals Paying Short Film Makers

  1. Dominic Took August 23, 2009 at 12:39 am #

    I can’t wait to see how the new short film I just wrote fairs. Not long till we shoot it now all being well. It should be a very interesting year for all three short films we’re sending out.

    Cheques are always nice though, like book royalty cheques – they don’t come for ages and then they appear at once haha.

    Dominic Took

  2. Michael Morgenstern September 4, 2009 at 4:40 pm #

    I come from having worked at a film festival and also having my film play at them. I know that we had few resources and spent them strategically, promoting the films we thought we could draw the large crowds in and that we thought represented the best of what the festival had to offer. I wish it could be another way, but a small festival I think would rather take more good films than accept only the number whose audience they can fill, hoping that the filmmakers themselves will pick ip the slack. It would be nice, though, if filmmakers got a share of the ticket sales, as this would really make all that promo work pay off. There’s nothing worse than being excited about a film for months only to attend a nearly empty screening.
    Hope all is well,

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