There are a couple things you can count on in life - you know, death and taxes?
Turns out, there's something entirely reliable in a film festival's submission process, too: the request for a fee waiver.
Because we see them come through almost daily, I wanted to take a minute to acknowledge the waiver requests and offer a bit of insight to filmmakers on our approach to them (and, if you're not a filmmaker, maybe give you an idea of the inside workings of a festival).
We charge submission fees for one simple reason: we have to. Trust us - if we didn't have to, we wouldn't. But in order to make the whole process happen, in order to build a festival and to continue operating year after year, our submissions income is a portion of our budget we depend on.
Since we have to charge to make our process happen, we've made every effort this year to drastically cut our fees to the lowest level possible to continue operating. At this stage in our regular submissions process, submitting a film is only $30 (compare that to $60 or more at other festivals!); it's just $20 if you've got an upgraded project at our submissions partner, Withoutabox.
We are aware that filmmakers - like the majority of us - are on limited budgets in this economy. What we've found in fielding these requests every single day is that the quality of films we see from fee waivers never seems to reach the same quality of those films who have budgeted - skipped a few lattes, let's say - to submit their films around festivals. I couldn't say exactly why that is, but it seems to indicate that our gut - to tend toward not granting fee waivers - is on the right track.
We're glad to see every film that comes through our doors, and we're glad to respond to every filmmaker who requests a fee waiver. Unfortunately, that simply isn't possible. It's our hope, if you do get a response respectfully declining your request for a fee waiver, that you find the funds to still submit with us. From festival events and Q&As to our awards and growing audiences, your investment in us will ultimately dwarf our investment in you and your film.