A few weeks ago I spoke with Chema Garcia Ibarra and Álex Montoya about the proliferation of fake festivals . Both have a lot of experience in distributing their own films and know film festival circuit well.
They were worried about the number of «festivals» of this type that have emerged recently.
I have been observing fake festivals for a long time, but the arrival of registration platforms and the ease of receiving films has led to an exponential increase in «festivals» that do not exist, and are created only to raise registration fees.
With this post I will try to give some key characteristics of fake festivals. This will lend some guidance in your distribution strategy and help you differentiate between fake & the rest of festivals.
First, let’s characterize the two groups :
- False Festivals: Often charge registration fees and do not exist. These are the ones I will talk about in this post .
- There are other «festivals» which, while maintaining many of the characteristics of the previous ones, do seem to do some act or projection to justify their existence , but nothing more.
In this group there would be festivals like the Madrid International Film Festival, an event that nobody knows of in Madrid. It is organized by a foreign company that is dedicated to organizing festivals of this type in other cities. According to its website, it is celebrated in a hotel in Madrid. Do they do any act or projection? Maybe, but with its name it seems like a kind of festival that does not. Its main objective is to charge registration fees to its participants and winners.
It is often difficult to differentiate between one type of festival and another. In many cases, they try to confuse the director or producer to make him pay a registration fee, which is usually high.
Let us now speak of the first group, those «festivals» that are false and do not exist.. There is a case that I discovered recently, known as the European Independent Film Awards , which can serve as a basis for detecting similar cases:
- For starters, the name already causes confusion. These awards call themselves The EIFA , very much like the EFA Awards, which are the official awards of the European Film Academy (European Oscars).
- They have a very basic bases, both on their website and the file on Filmfreeway . It seems to support films from anywhere in the world, with a jury of 15 professionals from different countries. Who are these supposed professionals? There is no information on their website regarding these judges or where exactly they are from.
- Contact information is limited to a Twitter with only 10 tweets, a Gmail , and a contact form. There is also a map with the location of Riva St. Kilda in Melbourne. European Awards in Australia? It doesn’t make sense.
- According to Filmfreeway, is their first year running, which is a very common feature of this type of «festivals. They usually lack previous editions.
- These festivals are created to charge registration fees, so they are usually expensive. In the case of these «prizes» they charge for all sections and have very extensive registration deadlines, which are open all year round. Payment management is also done by Filmfreeway . There are fees for the category of Best Film, Best Short Film, Best Film, Best Soundtrack, etc.
- This is an example of the fee structure in the Best Film category and is repeated in 12 other categories:
– There are about 120 different payment possibilities (12 categories multiplied by 10 deadline options):
Some of the keys to identifying fake festivals, which we can extract from this case:
- The names usually include the city, country or continent.
- There is no information of other editions, nor of known sponsors.
- The bases are very simple and support many types of movies.
- They do not have public projections.
- The offices and contact details are not in the same city, country or continent where they are supposed to be held.
- Extensive enrollment period and several payment options.
- Enrollment rates tend to be high.
Although it may seem easy to identify them, there are hundreds of festivals like this that are reviewed each week. You have to be very attentive, especially when you have to pay a registration fee. These festivals never make exceptions or “waivers” for the payment.
Sometimes, there may also be directors who want to accumulate selections at all costs, regardless of the type of festival they are signing up for. Having a list of one hundred festivals where your movie has been, but that half do not exist, does not make any sense.
Do you have experience encountering fake festivals? We’d love to hear what you have to say. I await your comments.