Gone Fishing, the festival data is complete!

Film Festival Spreadsheet Well it’s nearly complete. The problem is that I keep getting invites to more festivals, and so, like the making and selling of a film itself, it just keeps going on and on. I am not complaining as it is a fabulous distraction to be invited to wonderful festivals around the world, but it’s not going to get the next movie made!

OK, so I wrote a few months ago on the blog, about the ongoing festival campaign and the spreadsheet we put together – but the data at that time was incomplete. As the main push for Gone Fishing has now ended, I thought I should tally up that data and share it – so here it is.

All in all, we entered 139 festivals… Of those festivals we were rejected from 66. That gives us a success rate of just under half at 47.5%.

And of those 73 festivals we got accepted into, we won an award at 28 (sometimes we won multiple awards, giving us wins closer to forty), resulting in a ‘win award’ rate of around 38% (that’s of the festivals we actually got into remember – overall, if you consider every festival we entered, we had a win / success rate of just over 20%).

This figure is slightly skewed as not all festivals were competitive, but most were. Without doing a lot of number crunching and head scratching I can’t give you an exact figure, but I would geusstimate that about 10% of all the festivals entered were non competitive.

Film Festival Map 4
Festival DataNow the really interesting stats come from WHERE we were accepted. The map shows we were hugely popular in the USA, but not so popular in Europe. In fact in the UK, we have only played officially in two festivals, being rejected from the others we entered – this trend began with Edinburgh 2008 who declined our world premiere (also note that one fest, the United Film Fest, is a touring festival out of the USA so I don’t count that one). I also know there are a couple of UK festivals that are not in the sheet because I dealt with them before we started logging everything in detail in a spreadsheet, often by handing someone at a festival a DVD and a form – for instance the Leeds Film festival is not in the sheet and I did apply there and heard nothing back.

In the first instance I wanted the world premiere to take place in the UK, but was met with some indifference from UK festivals and so ended up premiering in Rhode Island (which I am glad we did – if you have not seen the nail biting video blog of this, check it out below)

Of all the figures, only Europe and USA really have enough data to display any kind meaningful trend…

In Europe (including the UK), of the festivals we entered (40), we got into 32.% of them (13) and won one award.

In North America (inc Canada) of the festivals we entered (87), we got into 63.5.% of them (55) and won 30% (26) festivals

Quite a distinction. I can say with some certainty that American audiences warmed to Gone Fishing, were Europe was far less enthusiastic. Anecdotally, that was also my experience at the coal face while attending festivals.

We spent around £3,000 on festival submissions, which I funded myself, and continue to fund from sales of the DVD. And as most short film festivals don’t cover expenses, I had to pay for air travel and accommodation when there – so again, I guesstimate a further £3,000 on expenses (though I did manage to run some workshops at some festivals to claw some costs back, and also lived rent free in LA with Gen and Zee when there).

So it’s a costly business for sure.

Right now we are playing in Korea at the Asiana International Short Film Festival and in a couple of weeks I fly out to Bilbao in Spain for a week, to attend their festival.

You can download a copy of the spreadsheet we created by clicking here – we hope you find it useful with your festival run.

But was it worth it? I will have a long think about this and report back on the blog in the next few days. Also, I am filming an extra module for the Gone Fishing online workshop to go into greater detail about festival strategies and help members create their own stretegies for their films (remember, if you sign up now, you will get all updates when they are published).

OK, for those of you who didn’t watch before, here again is the video blog from Rhode Island, crammed with tips on attending festivals.

Onwards and upwards!

Chris Jones, Film Maker and Author


5 Responses to Gone Fishing, the festival data is complete!

  1. Liam November 6, 2009 at 1:12 pm #

    I haven’t seen GONE FISHING yet but it seems to be a “feel-good movie” (I mean this in a good way).
    Thus, I’m not surprised to see it get recognized in America more than in Europe. In France, where I come from, sentimental/cute/happy-endings/feel-good movies are usually frowned upon and have a harder time getting accepted into festivals. That’s a trend I’ve definitely noticed.

  2. John Lubran November 6, 2009 at 5:24 pm #

    I loved your video blog Chris and look forwards to seeing Gone Fishing. Tell that old reprobate Ivor “He’s not Cecil B DeMille, he’s a very naughty boy”. Seriously though, many congratulations to you and all who supported you.
    John Lubran

  3. Paul Brady November 6, 2009 at 8:03 pm #

    Hi Chris

    Well my friend we share the same history. My film Janey Mary (the Irish Film) was like yours well received in the US especially and certain parts of Europe, and won awards in these regions. Except for our own home countries mine being Ireland. You could look at this with two heads scratching both in the process, but it boils down to your style of story telling or choice of film and how that plays out against the ‘judging demographic’ and type of film they are expecting. Films made in our home countries need to have a specific ‘artistic’ element to them. Films like ‘Gone Fishing’ and ‘Janey Mary’ tend to have a mainstream element to them and unfortunately for us they will not go down well with the festival judges in our own countries. In the US on the other hand they love these type of pictures and types of stories and of course you’re going to win awards because they are seen as something fresh, a type of story American’s love told with a European voice. So I see this as a personal triumph, as you know that the place that matters like the US you’ll score big and you have a track record to prove it.
    So in summary dear friend you have a unique gift for telling stories that have universal appeal which are especially loved in the US whereas in Europe we have to make films about pigeons with unusual small feet or grannies who love estascy tablets to score any success!!!

    It can seem cruel and upsetting as you made a great film and yet it gets accepted into festivals and wins none in your home country. Easy to be pissed off over, but look at all the positives you have a demographic testing ground model with ‘Gone Fishing’. It’s the same type of yardstick Studios gauge success with certain types and styles of storytelling with audiences around the world. And you and I have both proven it’s successful, now put that into practice with a feature and you’ll find yourself ‘sitting on a beach earning 20%’!

    All the best
    Paul Brady

  4. Guy Rowland November 7, 2009 at 4:48 pm #

    Mr Jones, I do think you are on to something here. I really like the spreadsheet and statistics idea to take what is usually a very subjective area and apply just a little science to it. The results, I think, are pretty damning for Europe generally and the UK in particular.

    In Blighty we love to moan about the state of our industry and how we don’t get the breaks or budgets – yet somehow tired and dismal home-grown “edgy” movies get churned out each year. I think the root of the issue is that far too often we don’t focus on story, craft, and – most of all – on engaging the viewer. Worse, we seem to revel in it!

    Gone Fishing is as British as it gets, but doesn’t fall into the parochial traps that keep most British movies from ever getting anywhere. I think it is a mini-template for truly globally successful British features, if only UK film bosses bothered to raise their eyes to look.

    I’ll be interested to read if you think entering so many festivals was worth it in terms of what you wanted to get out of it. But – possibly by accident? – I think you’ve objectively discovered something that many of us have only suspected for a long, long time.

  5. Lee Neville November 7, 2009 at 7:21 pm #

    Hi Chris,

    Actor Lee Neville here.

    In offering my two cents: I know you said that you would write on your blog later as to whether or not your ‘Gone Fishing’ journey was worth it; but I think whether financially or not, the journey you’ve taken has been completely worth it to you as a filmmaker and the rest of us who you’ve invited to share your journey with. I mean what a great initial £50 idea. Your journey would make a great film itself- how about that as a feature film idea? Hopefully you’ve gained enough contacts in the US market where ‘Gone Fishing’ has been most welcome to allow you to make an even bigger impact next time.

    ‘Gone Fishing’ has been an amazing inspirational journey. And finally having seen it, and you talk so passionately about filmmaking as you did at the recent London Q&A and seminars you lead at Ealing Studios, I think many of us who are equally passionate about entertainment, should be grateful to your inspiration and openness.

    I’m looking forward to your next piece of inspiration. Can’t wait!

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