Posts Tagged ‘Film Festivals’

Even more Sympathy Pains Screenings

May 23, 2014 Comments off

Sympathy Pains Logo -  for webThanks to everyone who came out to our Little Rock Film Festival screenings of Sympathy Pains last week – talked with some GREAT people and had a good time watching everyone watch the film – it’s been a while since I’ve had a chance to do that. It’s always fun to see what people do and don’t laugh at – I still wonder why a couple of jokes don’t get the laughs I think they should…

It’s been a good week for Sympathy Pains news. We just won an Award of Excellence from the La Jolla IndieFest, and will be screening June 19th at the Trenton Film Festival in Trenton, NJ.

It’ll be a while before we hear anything more about new screenings, but if you’re in New Jersey (and who isn’t in a New Jersey state of mind?), check us out! Their website for tix and info is


I Love FilmFreeway!

May 2, 2014 2 comments

filmfreewayAfter writing about it a few times (here and here), I finally started using FilmFreeway, the new film festival submission tool that’s aiming to compete with Withoutabox. And as much as Withoutabox is lousy, FilmFreeway is great.

The simplest explanation for how user-oriented FilmFreeway is: I set up my account, got two films ready to submit, and actually submitted one to a festival in less than 30 minutes, with no confusion. For those of you who’ve used Withoutabox – that’s pretty amazing, both in the short amount of time, and the lack of getting lost in byzantine menus designed for filmmakers with a marketing team and publicists.

There’s still room for improvement, two places in particular: First, the FF search tools are nice and simple, but could use a few more filters for genre or other specifics to help find the festivals that are good for your film. Second, if you have more than one film in FilmFreeway, it constantly defaults to the first one you put in. Yesterday, I submitted Sympathy Pains to about 15 festivals, but each time it would default to a short film that I had previously submitted to a different festival. If I forgot to change the default film, there was no way to change it once you hit “Save.” I had to delete the submission and re-submit the correct film.  It would be nice to be able to select the default film when you’re submitting to a number of festivals.

But those are small quips compared to the Soviet-era functionality that is Withoutabox. I also found a few festivals that had less expensive rates on FilmFreeway, which is nice.  And for Festivals, there’s no charge if you don’t charge filmmakers, which encourages free submission festivals, which are a lot of international ones.

Not every festival is on FilmFreeway, yet, so there’s still some use for Withoutabox, but the sooner they all get there, then the sooner Withoutabox will either have to improve their functionality or go away. And I’m happy either way.

Without Withoutabox, the Saga Continues

February 10, 2014 Comments off

An email showed up in my inbox this morning, “Invitation to FilmFreeway.” I don’t know why I even looked at it, I tend to ignore the many invites I get, but I glanced at it and realized that it’s the Withoutabox competitor that’s been promised for a while. Here’s my original post about the withoutaboxsucks website and their crusade to get you to know that they don’t like withoutabox. But FilmFreeway seems to be doing something about it. I haven’t dug that deeply yet, but they have 83 festivals signed up, and more than a few good ones. Their fees are cheaper (I assume for both the filmmaker and for the festival), and the website looks like it was designed more recently than 1997.

You might want to check them out. I’m not looking forward to having to look at two websites to find the festivals I’m looking for, but if competition can help spur withoutabox to have a reliable search engine and a more streamlined site, I’m all for it.

And it looks like there are a few festivals that are listed on both sites, so it might be worth switching over, eventually. I’m curious to see how this all ends up.


So you’re going to a Film Festival?

June 11, 2012 Comments off

Then simplify your sound design.

Spent last weekend at the Little Rock Film Festival, which was a blast by the way, and noticed something about a number of the films. Not the films themselves (may of which were GREAT), but about how they were screened. There were some excellent projectionists for some of the films, and then there were a few who were… uncertain of their jobs.

I imagine that many of the readers of this blog (making the leap that there are many readers of this blog…) are filmmakers or filmmaking types, and most of us at least dabble in short films… short films are a bitch for the festivals to make work.

Think about it, you’ve got 4-10 films in a short film block, and you’ve got to deal with each film’s aspect ratio, codecs, and other technical specs. I once put together some shorts programs – you wouldn’t believe the codecs that some filmmakers think are standard enough to send out to strangers.

And then there’s the sound. I thought I’d give some tips to short filmmakers about your sound and what you can do to help make it sound better at festivals. I’ll try and do a “Joe’s theories of sound design” post one day – this isn’t that.  This is just some simple tips to make sure that a lesser trained projectionist, which many festivals are going to have, doesn’t hatchet your film.

Of course there are some things you just can’t control. I went to a screening one time where during the 3rd act, as my characters were pouring their hearts out to each other and Paul Dickinson’s beautiful score was playing quietly in the background, the space opera in the next theater went into their final bloody battle. So as my characters are trying to pick up the pieces of their lives, they’re accompanied by laser canons and synthesized horns.

The tip first is that your sound needs to be mixed well – again, that’s a topic for another post, but very quickly – it needs to be mixed so we can hear the dialogue and the important sounds over everything else. Don’t mix in headphones or in your computer room. Mix in a theater so you can really hear what it’s going to sound like. Especially, throw away your headphones when you’re trying to do a mix. I heard a lot of bad sound in a lot of shorts – some of them were just mixed poorly and some of them had another problem which is the next tip:

Don’t use surround sound. Use a stereo mix. Some of the problems were that the films were mixed in surround, and playback wasn’t prepared to handle that, so some sounds got thrown only into some speakers and other sounds were just mixed strangely because they couldn’t handle the surround mix. Keep it simple so they can’t screw it up. It’s a short film – really, how much surround do you need?

Give the projectionist something at the beginning of the film to know how loud to set the volume. When the opening of your film is a giant explosion, you know what’s going to happen with the rest of your film? The projectionist is going to freak out, and lower the levels so that blast sounds OK (not great), and now either the rest of your film will be WAY too quiet, or the projectionist is going to keep tweaking it through the whole film – and probably not in a subtle way.

I always put a “daringly Dull productions” logo at the head of my films for a couple of reasons, not the least of which is that is has a soundtrack that lets the projectionist find a level and leave it there. It gives them an easy gauge, and then I make sure that the rest of the film bounces around at a similar level to the logo. It makes it easy for them, and my film sounds good.

None of this is an excuse not to have a good mix – you have to take the time to do that, too, but these are some more things to keep in mind to help the festivals show your films as best they can. At all points in the filmmaking process you want to think of your audience, but in this case, your audience is at least partially the person handling the projector and the mixer level – they can make or break your film, so make their job as easy as possible.

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