So I have completed my short film, False Double, and as I begin the task of sharing it with the world, I plan on writing all the ups, downs, and sideways involved with trying to promote a short film.
For me, step one was to create an account on withoutabox.com What is withoutabox you say? Well withoutabox is a web site in which Amazon has made it easy for filmmakers to find and enter film festivals. You just have to enter your info and upload your film once, and with a click of a button you can submit your film to as many film festivals as you like.
On the flip side, Amazon has made it easier for film festivals to exploit filmmakers with no repercussions. While the ability to upload your film and make it accessible to film festivals is a great feature, it also makes it easier for the film festivals to just ignore your submission without ever watching the film.
In the good ole days you would mail the dvd to the film festival, and then someone would choose to catalogue it, or just throw it in the garbage. The point is that an actual person had to make some sort of effort. Fast forward to today, and film festivals can just write a program that will automatically update your submission status from red to green, and then choose to watch your film at their leisure. That is if they are not swamped with thousands of submissions, and never get around to actually watching your film.
Amazon can easily fix this by adding a notification when the festival plays your quicktime. They can even track if the festival stops watching your film after 8 seconds, but the lesson is, it is not Amazon’s problem. They even make a quick buck, $2.95, for $.05 of bandwidth and storage.
Amazon is not completely indifferent to your struggles. They are kind enough to provide you with Submission Protectionfor your festival submissions. For a small fee, $1.39, Amazon will refund your money if, “ the Competition to which you submitted your Work does not take place or gets de-listed from Withoutabox during the applicable Submission Entry period.” So basically, you get to pay Amazon to protect yourself from Amazon.
After all the blood, sweat, and tears, the struggle continues long after your film is complete. But when your film is finally accepted by a festival, and screened for a receptive audience, there is nothing better.
Note to self: Buy Amazon Stock