Recently, we have been hearing more and more often from film makers that thanks to the huge number and variety of festivals, a short film will almost always find its niche. Indeed, thanks to the Filmfreeway platform you can find many suitable festivals. Today, almost any film will meet its festival.
In this article, we have compiled the main reasons why films are rejected by festivals, and prepared tips and recommendations to help optimize your promotion strategy and save time and money.
The main reasons why films are rejected by festivals
1. Inconsistency of the theme, concept or ideological focus of the festival
We suggest carefully checking the concept and focus of the festival. There are festivals that are interested in films with a specific theme or genre focus. It makes sense to have a look at previous film programs of the festival and to read the descriptions of the films.
2. Failure to meet premiere requirements
Many festivals include a world or national premiere requirement in their selection rules. This is more true for the biggest festivals such as Cannes, Sundance, Berlinale or TIFF. Therefore, showing on the first laurel shots can do more harm than help. The Filmfreeway or other platforms have an option to filter films by premiere criteria. Because of this, a film can easily be rejected. Special mention should be made of cases where a film has already been posted publicly on YouTube or elsewhere on the Internet. Major festivals prefer unique content.
3. Copyright violation
As a rule, this applies to the use of musical content in the film. Cinemas disclaim responsibility for copyright infringement. In this regard, the festival can analyze the legality of the use of content in order to avoid the claims of copyright holders. We know a curious case when the right holder of the music did not confirm his consent and the filmmaker could not withdraw the film because of the regulations of the festival. As a result the film was shown without music. Paul Diggler’s innovative design film “Work It Class” was dedicated to this.
4. The production of the film is completed before the specified date
Generally, festivals are interested in films that were made no later than 1-2 years ago. An acceptable completion date for a film is specified in the regulations. Therefore, please be careful.
5. The presence of inappropriate content
Festivals take place in different countries and with different cultural and socio-political contexts. There are topics that may be taboo or restricted from being shown in various countries. It is advisable to clarify these points with the festival organizers. It can be a fine line between erotic scenes and porn, scenes of violence, politics and even smoking or drug use in the frame, etc.
6. Non-compliance of the duration of a short film with the regulations
Film festivals differ in determining the maximum length of a short film. For example, the Cannes Film Festival accepts short films of up to 15 minutes in competition. It is important to keep in mind that the running time of the film also implies the end credits. It can happen that a director shortens a film after it has been submitted, but before the festival has made a decision. In such cases we recommend to inform the organizing committee about the new version of the film.
The fact is that festivals have a limited amount of screen time. Usually the program of short films corresponds to the duration of a regular showtime at a movie theater. Therefore the organizers must have a very good reason to include a 30-40 minute film. The statistics of our festival showed that the length of the film itself has little effect on the likelihood of selection. Here it is a question of the length not complying with the regulations.
7. The absence of subtitles
Festivals take place in different countries that may require translation into the national language. The absence of a subtitle file or a dialog sheet with timings makes it difficult to translate the film. Many festivals require subtitles as a prerequisite. Therefore, we recommend taking precautions if you are submitting your film to countries other than English-speaking countries.
8. The film is unfinished
It is not always possible and necessary to finish what you start. We strongly recommend that especially first-time filmmakers show their new film to as many friends and acquaintances as possible. You’ll understand when the moment comes when you only need the opinion of professionals. But professionals are also interested in the feedback of the most ordinary, unsophisticated viewer. After all, this is a movie!
And to conclude, we would like to say. Don’t let the past be an anchor, let creativity bring you joy. Create, explore and share your new discoveries!