"Top tier festivals receive so many submissions today that the odds have become lottery-like."
Yes, festivals are a good money maker for some but is it worth it for most filmmakers?
I’m about to say something controversial as a festival programmer / founder. Your intuition is right. It’s not worth it... For the most part. I’ll explain.
The people who get accepted into the big festivals are so rarely the little guy/girl, and it's basically a circle jerk of only those who have a big name or star attached getting in.
You hate that, and I hate that.
Your recognition should be SOLELY based on how good your work is, but to be honest, generally it's not. Politics, hidden agendas, and nepotism is rampant in this industry.
You hate that, and I hate that.
PLUS, when you get accepted and even when you win an award you're thinking "is all there is!?" You’re in the same place you were last year and, asides from some moments of recognition, it’s nowhere near the level of success (especially not monetarily!) that you thought it would be.
Again, I hate that too.
That’s why I started thinking “What would the ideal film festival for indie filmmakers look like?” And I’m not talking about “indie” as in a $10 million Woody Allen film.
I’m talking about “indie” as in “I've exhausted my personal network and everyone I know’s already donated all they can to my next passion project, and now I’m homeless and alone and the Sun is a black hole of false hopes and misery.”
So together with just a couple other indie filmmakers, we decided to solve all the problems we humanly could that plague “traditional festivals” (ie. pretty much every film festival that exists just to squeeze more money from you and dangle that carrot of fame in front of your starving artist’s face).
indiefilmTO was built for filmmakers, by filmmakers, with an entrepreneurial twist from the startup world, and indiefilmTO Festival is no exception.
We don't discriminate in genre, in length, in budget, or in anything asides from "How good is your god damn film!?"*
*NOTE: We have a bias towards films that have themes that matter to Toronto audiences. Obviously we want the most eyes on your film, so we are constantly looking for ways to position your film as "relevant" to the Toronto market.
For example, if your film deals with wood carving... it's unlikely that such a film is relevant to the general Toronto audience, but if it deals with indie craftsmanship, then that's something Toronto cares about.
Toronto will soon be the Silicon Valley of film. It's already one of the indie film capitals just because of TIFF, but once you're here you'll see why.
PS: If you follow our emails then you'll know how we infuse the startup culture with filmmaking.
The film screenings themselves are just 30% of what we want to accomplish. We have a saying at indiefilmTO that we care more about the filmmaker than the films.
This year it's you.
"Curt has been extremely insightful in sharing his brutally honest opinion on my debut short film that I'd been seeking for ages now. As a first timer, it's very important for me to receive the right kind of feedback for my film so I don't end up making 5 short films with repeated shortcomings. Thank you so much, Curt for indiefilmTO Fest! I'd love to consult you for all my future projects as well."
Sandeep Panazhi, Director / Writer
"We recently completed a short film “La Maisonette”, which we submitted to the indiefilmTO film fest. To be honest, the whole process was fantastic. From the application to the ongoing communication touch points along the way. We enjoyed the process so much (yes, actually enjoyed it – who knew?!) that we wanted to get to know the team and work with them."
Sorren Isler, La Maisonette
"I really appreciated the direct emails from indiefilmTO when judging status information was running late and then having the option to receive the feedback on our projects regardless if we were accepted or not. That information is very valuable, especially for someone who is a first time filmmaker submitting to festivals and not being 100% familiar with how everything works or what others are looking for.
I've read articles and done some research of course, but hearing from people directly involved with judging and programming is extremely beneficial."
Brittany Angley, "The Leftovers"
What types of films do you select?
Questions You Ask A Lot
Our programmers look to check off these three criteria:
Actually, you can look below. Keep in mind that is an old Festival reel, and it wasn't meant for anyone other than the TAC to see.
Who are you Curt?
Good question! Any question about me is a good question.
I could give you a long description here but I'd rather you read about me and indiefilmTO here.
While I'm the face of the company, it's actually a team effort. And more recently, a community effort.
I know you're a non-profit, but can I get a waiver?
We used to give out waivers but now we ban filmmakers from our festival if they ask for a waiver.
Why so harsh? Because simply asking for a waiver is taking value. We want to see that you have added value.
That's why we only un-ban someone after they've demonstrated that they've added value to the indie filmmaking community in some way.
What should I do with my film after the festival?
All of our selected filmmakers will get access to industry panels / workshops on this very topic.
It won't just apply to our festival, it will apply to any.
The worst thing you could do is lose the momentum that your film generated. You want to ride that buzz train and we'll show you how.
Plus, you'll get a bonus eBook of all distributors in US, UK, and Canada. (see below for more details)