Festivals & Filmmakers: Here is FilmFreeway.com

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Reblogged from RenegadeCinema.com | Festivals & Filmmakers: Here is FilmFreeway.com

If you’re a filmmaker or film festival that has grown disgruntled with the online submission service WithoutABox, you’re not alone. Thousands of filmmakers from around the world, including yours truly, have grown tired of the overpriced and appalling service the Amazon owned website provides and up until recently there hasn’t been any viable alternative. No competitors were willing to take WAB head on. Of course there has been the increasingly popularFilmmakers & Festivals Against WithoutABox, but the petition-oriented site which is more of a declaration platform, doesn’t provide any real world solutions to the problem. The status quo remained the same for many years: there had been no other trustworthy, online solution for filmmakers and filmfestivals to connect with one another.

Thankfully times are changing and the good news for all of us is that FilmFreeway.com has launched and acquired quite an impressive crop offestivals. The new service is in full operation and today I had the opportunity to interview Zachary Jones, one of the founders of FilmFreeway, about this very ambitious project.

Renegade Cinema (RC): What inspired the idea of creating the long overdueFilmFreeway website?

Zachary Jones (ZJ): FilmFreeway was created, quite simply, as a solution to a problem.  In our view, festival submissions were broken.  The industry was dominated by a market leader with grossly outdated, dreadful technology, a miserable user experience, backed up by an unfair, predatory business model.  We saw an opportunity to create a product that would make film festivals’ and filmmakers’ lives easier.  FilmFreeway was created to simplify and improve film festival submissions with modern technology with a fair business model.

[read more at Renegade Cinema]

Filmmakers & Film Festivals Against Withoutabox


Filmmakers & Film Festivals Against Withoutabox. is a movement that was started back in 2011 (and quite possibly had its seeds planted well before) and now has upwards of 11,000 followers as of August 18, 2013 and includes festivals as notable as the Honolulu Film Awards, which recently had to change it’s name from the Honolulu International Film Awards and even some of the majors.  A blog posted in September 2011, on Blogspot, lists several detailed reasons as to why this movement is relevant and necessary to the future of the independent film community.

Included on the list of reasons film festivals should avoid doing business with Withoutabox are the fees and rules that come with operating under the WAB umbrella.  They make it incredibly difficult for festivals to operator efficiently, to grow exponentially and put too much strain on the filmmaker, at least as far as financial contribution goes.  You can read it in detail here: http://boycottwithoutabox.blogspot.com/  These complaints aren’t uncommon with film festivals and even some of the majors have started pulling their festivals from WAB’s list of partners.

I have utilized Withoutabox both as a filmmaker and a festival programmer and coordinator.  In addition, I had attempted to start a film series in New York, that would be completely free of submission fees.  The only problem was that Withoutabox didn’t like the idea of hosting a film series  that didn’t involve any kind of currency exchange. The catch to having a free-to-submit to festival listed on their site is that they would require the festival coordinators to put down thousands of dollars.  This was unacceptable and I never got this particular series off the ground.  This is why festivals continue to program via the antiquated “pay to submit to” system.  It’s not so much about covering operating costs, but because the submission platform they use requires fees, that the filmmakers are expected to front.

Other film festivals I’ve worked with on the programming level have been endlessly bullied by WAB and its ridiculous policies to the point where some of them have invested in an online submission tool of their own.  I have even gone so far as to discuss the idea of collaborating with some of these festivals to  develop an open source submission platform which can be tailored by any festival or series and added to their websites, free of charge so long as they have a web developer competent enough to create a kick ass site. They can choose between having submission fees or not and if they choose the latter, they don’t have to fear being financially punished and can pick and choose between multiple service providers to handle any payments or refunds. In my opinion, this is the most logical solution to the WAB monopoly and allows a constant to be maintained across a wide gamut of film festivals so filmmakers can become familiar with a single basic system.

Anthony Kaufman, who wrote a blog on IndieWire (a website I detest but the journalist in me feels I should at least reference it briefly) had made some similar points.  Kaufman’s article concentrated more on WAB’s outdated technology platform and how terrible the films looked in their online video system. In his article, Kaufman interviewed Barbara Morgan, the Executive Director of the Austin Film Festival.  She is quoted as saying “Before Withoutabox, it was easier to be a festival, we did our own marketing, we could track our own marketing, we reached a tremendous amount of filmmakers on our own. When we went the way of Withoutabox, that opened up all kinds of issues…. I guess the biggest issue with them is that we didn’t really need them, and then we had to pay for something that we didn’t really need.”  I think this rings true for many film festivals, both small and large.  The mega film festivals have already started dropping their affiliation with WAB and the smaller ones are quickly following suit.  It has gotten to the point where many of them are realizing they don’t actually need WAB to run a good, solid film festival.

In my opinion as a filmmaker and a programmer, the big problem with WAB is that filmmakers don’t want to engage in any real research when it comes to finding a festival to whom they can submit their work.  WAB makes it ridiculously easy to locate a festival and send them your film, a service which at the start seemed like a blessing.  The reality, it seems, is that filmmakers spend hundreds and hundreds of dollars in one bout of submissions to maybe, five to ten festivals, all through Withoutabox and most of the filmmakers don’t bother visiting the festival’s sites to look at the types of films that particular festival has programmed in the past.  This results in a huge number of disappointments when the majority receive rejection notices.  Thus, filmmakers file complaints against said festivals, WAB investigates and thus a vicious circle of “what’s wrong with the system, who’s fault is it” begins and the filmmakers, who failed to do any real research, are made to look like helpless victims.  Many filmmakers love this because they essentially get attention and press for being complete and utter failures, while sticking it to the festival that rejected their work.

Submitting to the festival circuit used to take real work; sitting down in a library and opening several books on film festivals and making phone calls etc.  It’s now TOO EASY and we’re TOO OUT OF TOUCH with the festival coordinators to make dumping any submission fee really truly worth it. Not only do film festivals need to adopt a new submission platform/system, but filmmakers need to step up their game and stop blindly dumping submission fees to any old festival that comes up on a list.  Research is key. I say again, research is key. I say one more time: RESEARCH IS KEY!

All the indie legends that started out in the festival circuit didn’t get there by submitting through Withoutabox.  Heck, WAB wasn’t in existence until well after the 90’s indie hayday had ended.  These indie film leaders researched and submitted the old way.  Many of them got invited to the major festivals because they were inventive and didn’t depend on a computer system to get their work out there.  They made SURE their movies were seen by the RIGHT people.  This is the kind of initiative filmmakers need start taking again, otherwise it’s all for naught. WAB may not openly post easily accessible information on how many submissions are festival receives, vs. how many it programs, but that data is out there and a good festival is willing to share such info with you if you ask for it.


Manhattan Film Festival Submission Testimonials


mffavatarThe Manhattan Film Festival has released a video of filmmaker testimonials, featuring selected filmmakers from the 2012 season. Included are: Phil Nelson (Festival Director), Eric Norcross (Caroline of Virginia), Mark Blackman (Welcome to Harlem), Kristina Harris (Diminished Chords), Erik Peter Carlson (Transatlantic Coffee) and Chloe Elaine Sharf (Nora).

The video was produced to build support among the independent filmmaking community in the hopes of discovering works that would otherwise not be submitted to the festival. MFF’s regular deadline ends February 25th, 2013 so filmmakers have time. The late deadline is March 18th and WithoutABox users can submit up until April 8th.  For more information visit MFF’s website at: http://www.ManhattanFilmFestival.org and find them on Facebook & Twitter.

Direct Link URL: http://youtu.be/3Hv-dsVutFY

Filmmaker Profile: BJ Barretta


BJ BarrettaBJ talked with us in Washington Square Park – NYC to discuss his film SURVIVING DEATH which will screen with us at the PHILIP K DICK FILM FESTIVAL at IndieScreen on December 8th. 8:30 pm – 9:00 pm

Filmmaker Profiles are produced by Eric Norcross for film festivals around the globe. For more information, visit his website: http://www.FilmAnthropology.com

For more information please visit the Philip K. Dick Film Festival website at:

And connect with us on Facebook:

Soul… consciousness… what happens when we die? Is exploring the afterlife the purview of science, faith, or reality TV? Do we have the ability to know what lies beyond? The capacity to understand? And should we even dare?This award winning documentary by BJ Barretta explores objectively both sides of the debate providing insights into a possible solution. The viewer however needs to reach his own conclusion about the outcome.Insightful and entertaining.

Direct Link URL: http://youtu.be/TsAak6e86Qg

Imagine Science Films: The Science of Sleep & Dreams


NYC Skyline from 7 WTCLast night, I ventured up to the 40th floor of the new 7 World Trade Center building at 250 Greenwich Street for a panel discussion that was held at the New York Academy of Sciences. The subject of the discussion was “The Science of Sleep & Dreams” and is part of the continuing Imagine Science Film Festival, running until November 16th throughout New York City.  The evening started with a visually stimulating experimental short that utilizes animation to simulate what it would look like if we could see the brain “dreaming“.  This short presentation was followed by a flickering light display called “The Dream Machine” – which creates an effect that essentially puts people into a state of sleep (or near sleep for some). You can see a picture of its effect on Imagine Science Films’ Facebook Page.

This performance was followed by a panel discussion moderated by Tim McHenry, the Director of Public Programs & Performance & Producer of the Brainwave Series at the Rubin Art Museum.

Imagine Sci-Films Panel Discussion: Sleep and DreamsFirst up to talk was Professor Matthew A. Wilson, a professor of Neuroscience. He studies memory, how it is formed and how it is used. A part of his research delves heavily into dreams and he explores how dreams help with memory creation and maintenance. His experiments involve rats, mazes and the like. Hearing him talk about his experiments is intriguing and thought provoking. Mr. Wilson has found a mechanism to “hear” the dreams of his rodent subjects and can interpret what is heard into graphics, thus studying the rat’s dreams literally on a visual level. What he has established is that rats who are trained to run a maze, often dream about running mazes. There are some statements Mr. Wilson made that, for one reason or another, have stuck with me through the course of the night and I’m unsure as to why. Statements like “when the rat moves, it thinks about where it is, when it stops it thinks about where it could be“.

Erin J. Wansley from the Harvard Medical School was next to speak.  What is a dream and how do our minds select which of the barrage of experiences will be dreamed?  She explores this and the idea that sleep helps us to remember.  Her tests have shown that her human subjects who have dreamed tend to retain knowledge and those that don’t dream tend to have a more difficult time with retaining knowledge.  Her discussion also delved into the structure of dreams and how those structures change through the course of the night.  For example, early in the night the dream is in rehearsal mode, exercising what was learned while in an awake state and later on in the night it connects with historical experiences to help refine its own understanding of what it has learned. So the next time you have a dream in a strange locale you haven’t been to in decades or a dream that features people you haven’t thought about in years – it’s likely that your brain is using what is available to make sense of certain information.

WIDE AWAKE by  Alan Berliner

Filmmaker Alan Berliner is a documentary filmmaker who describes his profession as  about having “access”.  So it’s easy to understand why this self-described insomniac made himself the subject of his own film WIDE AWAKE, which explores his inability to sleep.  While they didn’t show the film in its entirety, they did show clips and the filmmaker talked briefly about his insomnia and a little about his experience making a film about it.  As soon as I get around to watching it on Netflix, I’ll post my thoughts on it separately, but I will say that I am genuinely intrigued by what I saw.

Fun Ideas I took from the panel discussion last night:

1. Did you know that babies smile in their sleep long before they learn to smile while they are awake? As we all know, smiling is an essential survival skill so it makes sense that the early on the brain would be actively teaching itself how to work it.

2. Dreams are no stranger a phenomenon than being awake, in that we don’t quite understand being awake as much as we don’t understand being asleep.

3. Lack of control of sleep and dreaming is what disturbs us, not necessarily the content of our dreams.

4. Drowsy driving is equivalent to drunk driving on a cognitive level. I knew this, but wanted to reiterate it since I am an advocate of safe driving. Human error is normally the result of fatigue. So get some sleep friends, especially if you’re operating heavy machinery!

5. Lack of sleep and psychosis have a connection.

6. Dreams are often a depiction of movement through space, where time has been altered (or at least the dreamer’s perception).

7. Dreams are in part, a reflection of the processing of memory in the brain.

8. Studies have shown that the direction an athlete flies and the jet lag can often determine who the winner of an NFL or MLB game will be.

Imagine Science Films


IMAGINE SCIENCE FILMS: The Imagine Science Film Festival is in their fifth year and is intended to bridge the gap between science and art by featuring films that feature scientific themes in a unique way. This includes documentary, experimental/avant-garde cinema, narrative fiction (like sci-fi yehehe)… basically an infinitesimal collection of styles.  The festival will run from November 8 through the 16th at various venues throughout New York City. For screening & other events that are a part of this film festival, I urge you to visit their website: http://www.imaginesciencefilms.org/

Peter Mettler: THE END OF TIME


The End of TimeLast night I had the pleasure of attending the opening night film of the Imagine Science Film Festival. The lucky filmmaker to grace the screen at the Museum of the Moving Image was none other than Peter Mettler and his film THE END OF TIME.  Peter’s film is an experimental work that explores the concept of time in a way that might make movie going audiences uncomfortable if they come in with typical expectations.  The work explores a perspective that in itself seems to manipulate time, in that, at moments we feel like time has either sped up or slowed down (not to be confused with a movie dragging at parts or at other times picking up pace, to understand this element you’d probably have to view the film for yourself).  Moment to moment, we shift and squirm almost as if we’re being manipulated, or the space around us is being changed in some way and that we have to alter our own consciousness to adapt.   CERN Hadron ColliderWe’re fed marvelous imagery as we hear quotes from some of the featured characters that stimulate our respective imaginations, that test our mental resolve.  We explore the worlds of these characters – real life people like scientists working at CERN or the astonomers at the Mauna Kea Observatory on the Big Island of Hawaii.  Peter’s subjects aren’t limited to the scientific elite, he also explores the lives of a young family that, at the time of his filming, are renovating a home in a derelict neighborhood in the outskirts of Detroit. He explores the neighborhood of a man who lives within steps of on-going volcanic lava flow. From the Hadron Collider in Switzerland to the slums of Detroit and quaint (but sort of dangerous) world of a volcanic Pacific – Peter manages to unite all these different worlds, cultures, backgrounds and the subject’s thoughts into his exploration of time.

Q&A With Peter MettlerThere were moments that stood out to me, some in the form of lines of dialog but mostly in plain imagery. Time lapse imagery of the Hawaii Observatory at night – while in operation – really blew me away. Line after line of haiku-like statements, strung together to plant the seed of Peter’s own ideas, convincing us that these are our own. Ideas like “If you have a beginning, then you always have a problem” was my favorite line (and apparently the director’s favorite as well).  “In reality there is no such thing as time by itself” and the idea that “We still operate on the level of Past, Present & Future” helps us understand that Time isn’t a thing, but an idea and not much more, albeit an idea that rules our lives.  He even comforts us with facts about human evolution, stating that by the time the sun burns out, the beings that will be around to witness the event will be as far from us as we are from bacteria today.  I haven’t slept so good in years.

The film would have been incomplete without a Q&A session with the director – and I’m happy he had flown in for the screening because his views on the film, the story behind the film, are all important to understanding the work.  I’ve been attending experimental film screenings at the Anthology Film Archives for a long time now and the one thing I can attest to about this art form is that while it can stand on its own legs with or without a trained audience, it’s so much better to be able to talk with the creator about the work.

Imagine Science Films

IMAGINE SCIENCE FILMS: The Imagine Science Film Festival is in their fifth year and is intended to bridge the gap between science and art by featuring films that feature scientific themes in a unique way. This includes documentary, experimental/avant-garde cinema, narrative fiction (like sci-fi yehehe)… basically an infinitesimal collection of styles.  The festival will run from November 8 through the 16th at various venues throughout New York City. For screening & other events that are a part of this film festival, I urge you to visit their website: http://www.imaginesciencefilms.org/

LIPSTICK LIES | Philip K. Dick Science Fiction Film Festival


LIPSTICK LIES - One Sheet Oct 31 2012My friends,

I am excited to announce that my film LIPSTICK LIES is an official selection of the PHILIP K. DICK SCIENCE FICTION FILM FESTIVAL and will screen with them in Williamsburg Brooklyn in December. The festival will be taking place at IndieScreen which is a phenomenal venue for independent film. We hope to see you all there, for those who cannot make it, rest assured I’ll be writing up on the events right here on this blog. So please check back for more updates.

We don’t have the screening schedule as of yet, but in the meantime, I ask that you make sure you like our film and the film festival on Facebook and pay a visit to both their website and our film’s Festival Portal. All these pages have relevant information and are generally kept up to date (especially the Facebook pages).

LIPSTICK LIES Facebook: http://www.Facebook.com/lipsticklies

LIPSTICK LIES Festival Portal: http://www.norcrossmedia.com/lipsticklies

FESTIVAL Facebook Pagehttp://www.facebook.com/ThePhilipKDickFilmFestival

FESTIVAL Main Websitehttp://www.thephilipkdickfilmfestival.com/

INDIESCREEN Main Websitehttp://www.indiescreen.us/

PKD 2012 Laurels Celestial