What are some free/cheap festivals?


(Hailey Buck) #1

Hey Everyone!

Just found this website and loving it! I am currently airing my web series and am finally starting to get a hang of marketing, so the next step is looking into festivals. And WOW did i not realize how expensive some of them are. Since I am on a broke college kid budget, does anyone know of any free or cheaper festivals?


(Bri Castellini) #2

Oh boy do I feel you here. I spent probably the same amount making my show as I did on festivals. Oofa doofa is that rough.

Here’s what I’ll say before I recommend any:

  1. Instead of submitting to a lot of inexpensive festivals, which will sometimes turn out to be scams (happens a lot, sadly), I’d suggest making a list of festivals you think your show is a good fit for, based off of their previous acceptances, and then checking their costs and prioritizing from there.
  2. Seriously, keep an eye out for cheaper festivals. Many of us have been scammed before and as @Meredith_Burkholder said in her AMA regarding online-specific festivals:

Definitely steer clear of online only festivals. Those won’t do you a ton of good and are often just taking creators money and not giving much in return. Research the festivals and see what they’ve done in the past. Their websites and social media presence can show a lot about the festival and it’s initiatives… The only one I know personally that is not cheating you, is the Asia Web Awards. The thing to understand is that if they’re taking a submission fee, that fee should be going to organizing and paying for an event which draws industry professionals and/or the public to the festival. When you don’t have anything to spend that money on, but your website, you have to wonder where that money is going.

All that said, this is a great thread for highly-recommended film festivals (as well as a few that turned out to be scams).

Try to go for local festivals before anywhere else, as well- you’re more likely to get selected if you can physically attend, and sometimes local festivals put more of a priority on celebrating local talent than pulling from elsewhere.

Cheap festivals: I’ve had great experiences with Pilot Light TV Fest (in the UK- about $20 for a submission which by many standards is very cheap), The Monthly Film Festival (TMFF- $5 for submissions. It’s online but $5 isn’t much and they’re very communicative which is important), the Largo Film Awards ($15 submissions), and the StoneFair International Film Festival (Scotland, about $8 for a submission).

Definitely don’t submit (for free, which is how they get you) to IndustryBoost or Indiewise (or “Grand IndieWise Convention” or whatever they’re going by). They accept literally everyone who submits and then say that they’ll screen anyone who pays to travel to Florida for the fest, so all things considered it’s most definitely a scam. Also, the laurels suck (see below) so it’s not even worth it for that.


(Bri Castellini) #3

@JasonRyan @hermdelica @rjlackie @HackettKate and especially other LIW creators (not sure your usernames on here, sorry!)


(Arthur Vincie) #4

One of the things we’ve explored with Three Trembling Cities is public non-festival screenings. So far, we’ve screened at the New York Public Library a couple of times, the Irondale Theater (as part of an evening on immigration/immigrant rights), a bookstore, and at a couple of college campuses. The event has to be a good “fit” for the series. Overall, I’ve spent less money on these than I do at a typical festival (especially when you factor in travel + food + lodging + drinking).

The flipside is that these events were for connecting with audiences and creating new fans, rather than networking with other creators and industry folks, or picking up good reviews. So we’ve also submitted to webseries-centric fests, and mostly avoided “film”-centered festivals because they often want a premiere.

If you’ve made a genre project, you should consider submitting to sci-fi/horror/fantasy/comic cons. The entry fees are usually pretty low compared to film festivals, and if you get in you typically get one or two day passes. The projection systems and screening rooms at many of these places isn’t the greatest, but you will never get a better, more engaged audience, and the organizers have always been really friendly. For my previous feature, I also picked up some great reviews and interviews, and even sold some DVDs! [I’ve also screened at sci-fi bookstores and sci-fi meetup groups].

If you’ve made something that’s not genre-specific but does have a niche audience, I would look at what public gatherings/events that audience engages in (including festivals, but also professional conventions, meetup groups, etc.)

Anyway, those are some ideas. Good luck!


(Herman Wang) #5

FilmFreeway has a filter for entry fee amount, so you might as well take advantage of that.

That being said, I second the suggestion of applying to local festivals, even if it costs a bit more. A local acceptance will put you in touch with a lot of people with similar interests.


(RJ Lackie) #6

I haven’t really done much festival submitting; we didn’t really do the rounds with Santiago and I’m not a producer on my other indie projects. So, alas, I’m not much help.