Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 12
  1. Collapse Details
    FESTIVALS AND CONTESTS: Read the Fine Print & Protect Your Work
    #1
    Admin Luis Caffesse's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Austin, Texas
    Posts
    11,093
    Default
    DISCLAIMER:
    The content of the following post is my opinion and my opinion alone.
    It should in no way be seen as endorsed or supported by this site or any of its owners.

    __________________________________________________ ___________________________

    Recently a friend of mine sent me a link to an online film festival which he thought our DVXuser LoveFest entry might be a good fit for.

    As I read over the fine print of the festival rules, I was shocked.
    Before I go further let me say that I am using this contest as a case study.
    I'd like to use it as an example of things that you should look out for,
    and how you should not take submissions of your work lightly.

    ALWAYS take the time to read all the rules and regulations and compare those to other leading festivals in order to make an informed decision.

    Seeing as the festival deadline has passed, I'll go ahead and post the link as I think it's a perfect example of what you need to be looking out for.

    "The Doorpost Film Project"
    http://www.thedoorpost.com


    At first glance this is a festival like many others online.
    They are seeking short work (5 minutes or less) which fit into a variety of predetermined themes (more on that later).
    They have some decent prizes - and various rounds.
    Winners of the first round are given a budget to make a second film... etc.

    So, where's the problem?
    Let's take it step by step.


    1) Entry fee of $50

    I can hear people saying already, "But every festival has an entry fee"
    First off, not every festival has an entry fee, but yes the majority of festivals do.
    So let's put this one in perspective:

    Telluride Film Festival: $45 entry fee
    Sundance Film Festival: $35 entry fee
    Cannes Film Festival: NO entry fee for short films

    Those are arguable three of the most prestigious festivals in the world, which have real costs associated with them in order to put them on.
    Meanwhile an online festival which has virtually no overhead is going to charge you $50 to enter? It simply doesn't make sense.
    So make sure you look at the entry fees - and ask yourself if this is in line with the rest of the festival market.
    Weight it against other festivals of both higher and lower prestige and make your decisions wisely.



    2) No Names Available
    A festival should have a list of people behind it - I'm not even saying they have to be known people - but there is no reason they should be hidden.
    Look up any major festival online and you should be able to find the name of the Film Director, the Programming Director, or at least a contact person of some capacity.

    Here is an excerpt of the 'About' section of this festival:
    (emphasis mine)

    "The organization’s supporters are a consortium of investors from multiple continents, diverse backgrounds and distinct walks of life
    unified in the desire to see the substance beyond our eyes, to hear the sounds beyond our ears, to know what exists beyond our experience."

    A consortium of investors from multiple continents?
    It's starting to sound more like a business venture than a film festival, isn't it?
    More on that aspect later.

    Looking at the 'Contact Us' page doesn't yield any further info.
    No specific names, no titles, just a phone number.
    The phone number, which I called, yields only an answering machine.

    So ask yourself - is a festival put on by no one in particular worth a $50 entry fee?



    3) The Fine Print

    This is the clincher.
    From their rules and regulations page:
    (again, emphasis mine)

    "FILMMAKER HEREBY GRANTS THE DOORPOST FILM PROJECT A "GRATIS," NON-EXCLUSIVE, WORLDWIDE LICENSE, IN PERPETUITY,
    FOR THE LIFE OF COPYRIGHT, TO
    EXHIBIT, BROADCAST, TRANSMIT, DISPLAY, DISTRIBUTE, REPRODUCE IN COPIES,
    COUPLE WITH OTHER FILMS, SYNCHRONIZE, SELL AND OTHERWISE PERFORM THE SUBMITTED FILM"

    Now granted, it is not rare for a festival to have the non-exclusive right to redistribute your work.
    This is generally used as a clause which allows the festival to use your work as part of future promos, advertising and promotion for the festival itself.
    Sometimes they just like to have the films online. While I'm not a huge fan of 'lifetime' non-exclusive rights -
    what I find to be very questionable here is the addition of 'SELL.'

    To be clear - by even submitting your film to this site you are giving them the right to sell your work and profit off of it in perpetuity.
    They are under no obligation and you have no claim on any of the monies generated from your own work.

    Okay - so what if you don't care about money? What if you decide you weren't going to make money off your short anyhow
    and you just want to be able to put it up on your own site and get it out there and make sure as many people see it as possible?
    Well, you're out of luck there too:

    "FILMMAKER SHALL NOT POST, UPLOAD, DISPLAY, TRANSMIT, OR BROADCAST A SUBMITTED FILM OVER THE INTERNET
    FOR A PERIOD OF THREE (3) YEARS FROM THE DATE OF SUBMISSION OF THE SUBMITTED FILM.
    "


    Yes, you read that correctly.
    If you submit your film to this site you no longer have the right to place your own work online in any capacity for a period of 3 years.
    I could go on and mention some of the finer points of what happens if you become one of the 15 finalists, but I'll stop here.


    CONCLUSIONS
    The purpose of this post is to urge those of you submitting your work anywhere to make sure you properly gauge any festival/contest you are considering
    and read the fine print to know what you're getting, and more importantly, what you may be giving away by simply submitting.

    This festival was used as an example - but there are many sites like this cropping up each and every day.
    Why?

    Online video distribution is the goldmine of the coming years.
    The revenue generated through short form content has more than tripled in the past few years.
    Revenue from online video brought in over 1 BILLION dollars in 2007,
    and it is estimated to be an 8 billion dollar a year industry within the next 5 years.

    Because of that there are many people out there scrambling to do everything they can to build up a library of content they can distribute in coming years.
    In the case of the festival mentioned above, ask yourself this:

    What is to stop them from taking the library of content submitted, which is conveniently split up into categories of 7 different themes,
    then turning around and licensing it to any number of online, VOD, and mobile content providers?


    The answer is nothing.
    The rules and regulations filmmakers have to agree to in order to submit their film sets the stage for just that.

    So be careful.
    We all want to get our content out there - but with more and more distribution outlets available online everyday
    we have to remember that it is the content that has value.

    Protect yourself and your work -
    Read the fine print and make educated and informed decisions as to where it goes.


    Reply With Quote
     

  2. Collapse Details
    #2
    Senior Member stinkpot's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Location
    Happy Land - Cleveland
    Posts
    851
    Default
    Great post Luis! I hope people take heed. For many, their art is a very personal thing and to just sign it away (especially unwittingly) would be just tragic.

    Thanks for looking out for us man.
    -
    -
    -


    Reply With Quote
     

  3. Collapse Details
    #3
    Bronze Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Location
    Los Angeles, CA
    Posts
    1,642
    Default
    Wow, uhh, I think I almost submitted to that festival because I distinctly remember the "consortium of investors" setting off huge bells and whistles. Not to mention $50, no, I only paid that or more for one of the sixteen I sent my music video to -- The Accolade, which sounded legit to me and really sounded like a good fit for music videos.

    I tried to read the rules carefully but I was in a bit of a rush, which is bad, because festival entry dates were coming up for most of them and I was trying to get everything ready. I read the fine print every time I just hope I didn't miss anything...

    This is a great post, you should always make sure you are protected.


    Reply With Quote
     

  4. Collapse Details
    #4
    Senior Member dasher's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Posts
    154
    Default
    Here's another note.

    A lot of film festivals are now offering development deals as prizes. This is a bit of a joke. 1 million dollars in development is sort of like saying "you get a million dollars worth of natural air" .

    It's always worth it, in my opinion, to send a quick letter to the programmer of the festival to ask for a waiver. About 50% of the time they'll say yes and regardless it means that they'll look at your film even closer if you have that type of contact with them.


    Reply With Quote
     

  5. Collapse Details
    #5
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Posts
    607
    Default
    This is a great post, Luis. I have recently been making the festival rounds with a short and was shocked to see things like this as I was checking out different festivals. I don't think I stumbled on any that were this bad, but there were definitely things in the submission agreements, even on withoutabox, that made me turn away.

    I totally agree that these kinds of festivals should be avoided but, the thing is, I'm not sure they'd ever really have a leg to stand on. Distributor's delivery requirements are usually significant, including copies of signed releases and proof that you have the rights to the music used in the work. There doesn't seem to be any way that these guys are checking on that at all which could give them significant legal problems even if the filmmaker WANTED them to sell the film.

    I guess its probably one of those deals where these people would sell or run these videos on their site until they got sued or a C&D letter from a law office.


    Reply With Quote
     

  6. Collapse Details
    #6
    Default
    reposted from another thread

    I was considering entering the Chiller TV Dare2Direct contest for Horror Short's. Then I read this part of the rules.

    ...you are at such time granting Sponsor, its affiliates and its licensees, successors and assigns a worldwide, royalty-free, perpetual, unrestricted, irrevocable and fully sub-licensable right and license to consider, disclose, broadcast, use, re-use, reproduce, repurpose, modify, digitize or enhance, adapt, change, alter, edit, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, re-distribute, publicly perform, publicly display, and/or otherwise exploit your Submission (in whole or in part), and the images or likenesses that appear in your Submission ......

    Im no lawyer but that looks to me like they can take any portion of your short and make another film out of it. So you basicaly give up all rights to the story characters etc.... Im still going ahead with the shoot but I dont think ill enter based on that. I plan to shoot a feature length version some day and I want to hold onto those rights.

    For those that dont know ChillerTV is a relatively new specialty satelite channel dedicated to horror, I believe owned by NBC. My guess is they are looking for material for which to create "original" films from. Of which you'll never see a dime for.


    Reply With Quote
     

  7. Collapse Details
    #7
    Default
    I don't think ChillerTV is as sinister as you make them sound. The reason why they want the ability to "repurpose, modify" or "create derivative works" is so they can cut trailers, promos, or put it online, DVD, etc.

    It's really protecting their own butts.
    Wey Wang
    Filmmaker

    Blog: NinjaVspenguin, Twitter
    Videos: Youtube, Vimeo



    Reply With Quote
     

  8. Collapse Details
    #8
    Bronze Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Location
    Los Angeles, CA
    Posts
    1,642
    Default
    Quote Originally Posted by Texanite View Post
    This is a great post, Luis. I have recently been making the festival rounds with a short and was shocked to see things like this as I was checking out different festivals. I don't think I stumbled on any that were this bad, but there were definitely things in the submission agreements, even on withoutabox, that made me turn away.

    I totally agree that these kinds of festivals should be avoided but, the thing is, I'm not sure they'd ever really have a leg to stand on. Distributor's delivery requirements are usually significant, including copies of signed releases and proof that you have the rights to the music used in the work. There doesn't seem to be any way that these guys are checking on that at all which could give them significant legal problems even if the filmmaker WANTED them to sell the film.

    I guess its probably one of those deals where these people would sell or run these videos on their site until they got sued or a C&D letter from a law office.
    That's a really good point. I thought the same thing. I mean, if a filmmaker has the resources and is pissed off at a place like that for taking their work and doing something unethical with it, you would win a lawsuit like that pretty easily honestly. The only thing they could say is, "Well you clicked on submit and agreed that you read the terms," and any good lawyer would be able to argue that clicking on a button doesn't constitute signing away all rights to your film, which you would never knowingly do, blah blah, etc.


    Reply With Quote
     

  9. Collapse Details
    #9
    Junior Member LeDirector's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Location
    USA
    Posts
    12
    Default
    Interesting post here. I'm not familiar with the festival, but there are so many online "film festivals" popping up everywhere now that is is not surprising that some are in the group of those unscrupulous film festivals that we have to wathc out for. A few years ago, I submitted one of my movies to a regular "film festival" even though it wasn't around for many years and I didn't hear a lot about it before. The website was not all Hollywood, but it was good enough and it even had a small two or three person staff listed.

    However, once I sent in the film and the submission fee, I did not get any notifications from this film festival ever again. Knowing that all film festivals may not tell you if your film is not selected for their programme, they will at least have screenings listed on their site of the films that were chosen.

    So, I just accepted the fact that maybe my film wasn't selected but then went on their website around the time that the festival was supposed to be taking place and guess what....there wasn't a screening schedule posted. It was the same website as months before when I submitted and even throughout the so-called "dates" that the festival was supposed to take place. The entry fees has to be made out to an actual person too, nothing like "Make the check out to The Sundance Film Institute" or something. Instead, it was like "Make the Check out to Eric Delco" (Yeah, I used a TV show name, but you get the picture) and such.

    The online festival that you mentioned doesn't appear to be a scam per se, but just a little short on ALL of the details as you put it, which may put a lot of filmmakers in an upsetting situation when they find out that they have given certain rights to their work away without knowing it.

    Thanks for posting this info.
    Don't complain about what you settle for.
    Visit the Food for Films Blog




    Reply With Quote
     

  10. Collapse Details
    #10
    Bronze Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Location
    Los Angeles, CA
    Posts
    1,642
    Default
    I have no idea what is the case with some festivals, but one that appeared legitimate and part of several other festivals, events, etc. was this "Hollywood Mobile Film Festival." It's located in Beverly Hills. Totally illegitimate -- I sent an entry last year, only film festival of the 30+ I've sent to that has stolen my money and scammed me. Whatever address they listed to send the entries to didn't exist. I called, I e-mailed, etc., no responses, and my money was never returned. Since then I pay for submission protection through WAB, I think it's worth it.


    Reply With Quote
     

Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •