So many actors now are multi-talented actors, writers, and directors producing their own content. But once you’ve made a short film, how do you get it seen? The festival circuit can be a bit of a nightmare with literally hundreds and hundreds of festivals to choose from. We chat to Zachary Jones, founder of the super cool online submission platform FilmFreeway.com about how they help streamline the process.
Casting Networks: Firstly can you tell us a little about FilmFreeway and how this film festival site was started?
Zachary Jones: FilmFreeway is now the world’s #1 submission site across all metrics including: most active users, most international web traffic, most film festivals, most Oscar-accredited film festivals, as well as the easiest, most convenient and reliable way to submit to film festivals and creative contests. We created FilmFreeway so that filmmakers and other creatives would have a free and easy way to discover and submit to thousands of festivals around the world in a single place, as well as provide festivals with advanced software and tools to make their jobs of managing festivals easier and more efficient than ever before.
CN: We love the idea that filmmakers aren’t charged to submit their films via FilmFreeway, something we hadn’t seen done previously by other big companies. Was this something that you were passionate about doing at the onset of creating FilmFreeway?
ZJ: Absolutely! FilmFreeway is the only submissions platform that is 100% free for submitters. Naturally, some festivals charge their own entry fees, but we never charge submitters an added fee for use of our service. There are hundreds of festivals and contests on FilmFreeway that are completely free, too! We know that it can be very expensive to make and market an indie film, that’s why it was vital that we built a system that catered to the needs of filmmakers foremost.
ZJ: I can tell you that the number of submissions that we process for festivals each year overall is in the millions.
CN: Why do you think it’s so important for filmmakers to capitalise on websites like FilmFreeway? What do they offer that a filmmaker wouldn’t get by, say, looking up film festivals themselves and submitting directly?
ZJ: First, FilmFreeway offers unparalleled convenience. Submitters can discover and submit to the best film festivals in one, easy to navigate place, rather than waste hours scouring the internet looking for events that might or might not be a good fit for their projects. Submitters can also use our tools to filter for festivals based on a number of criteria such as years running, project runtime, Oscar-accredidation, event type, deadlines, event dates, etc. They can also read reviews from actual FilmFreeway users that have experienced the festivals in the past. We provide all of the information a submitter would want to learn about a festival and back that up with a simple and fast submission process. FilmFreeway then makes tracking and monitoring pending submissions as simple as can be. We also offer a variety of free tools for filmmakers such as our Laurel Creation Tool, which allows filmmakers to create festivals laurels with just a few clicks, beautiful project profiles and digital press kits, and unlimited video storage.
CN: Over the years, what do you think has been FilmFreeway biggest contribution in helping both filmmakers and the Film Festivals?
ZJ: Before FilmFreeway, the festival industry was dominated by a single monopoly that had gotten absolutely out of hand with an outrageously greedy business model and a ridiculously outdated website and user experience. Since our arrival, festival submission fees have never been lower. We’re very proud that both filmmakers and festivals have reaped the rewards of less expensive fees and vastly better quality software and service.
CN: Do you have any tips and tricks for filmmakers looking to start using FilmFreeway for submitting their short or feature to the film festival circuit?
ZJ: A good strategy to is spread your submissions across top festivals as well as some of the younger festivals, that way you hedge your bets and have a good change of acceptance to a wider range of contests, sort of like college applications, you submit to top schools but also have some back-up schools, too.
CN: And perhaps you have some thoughts on the biggest mistakes filmmakers make when trying to get their films seen?
ZJ: Remember, it’s a numbers game. Don’t get discouraged of you’re not accepted to a particular festival. In fact, some of the best festival experiences we see reported are from some of the smaller, lesser known festival that really go above and beyond to offer an incredible experience for filmmakers. There are so many wonderful, hidden gems in the festival circuit and really, something for everybody. Do your research and find the festivals that you think will have the greatest likelihood of aligning with your film’s subject, tone and the audience you seek.
CN: And finally, what does the FilmFreeway team have coming up? Any more exciting new projects or developments for filmmakers to be aware of?
ZJ: We’re just getting started. We’re working hard every day building awesome new stuff. We have some things in the works that we think are going to blow people away when we release them. Look for a steady stream of updates in the coming weeks and months.