Thursday, June 16, 2011

So you missed the deadline to submit to a film festival! Now what?

So you missed the deadline to submit to a film festival! Now what?

The following advice is specifically for the YoungCuts Film Festival, but much of the advice can be applied to other film festivals.

So you intended to submit to a film festival, but you weren't ready for their Early-bird deadline, you forgot to send your film for the regular deadline and now you have successfully procrastinated until you managed to miss their late. drop-dead, final deadline.

And now this morning when you go to WithoutABox and look at the Festival listing, this is what it says:
SPECIAL SUBMISSIONS ONLY • Final deadlines have passed. If you have a deadline waiver or special instructions from the event, select a Category of Entry to continue.
Giving up is certainly an option, but many Festivals like the YoungCuts Film Festival choose their deadlines so that they can be flexible enough to give filmmakers a break on missing the deadline.  Before you ask for an extension or deadline waiver, take a look at when they announce their Festival selections.

In the case of the YoungCuts Film Festival, here is what it says:
Approximately 15-Jul-2011
The 15th of July is a month away! There is obviously some wriggle room there! And saying that the notification date is "Approximately" July 15th means that there is even more wriggle room. You can probably still get your film in. 

And to answer the next question, yes, you can get a deadline waiver for your film for the YoungCuts Film Festival. If you do decide to submit through WithoutABox, you can use "2011" as the waiver code if WOAB asks for one. 

Before you do though, a few pieces of advice.

The key to submitting your film to a Festival after the final deadline (assuming that you can get a waiver) is to imagine that you are running a race with a series of hurdles. These hurdle start out very low and easy to jump in the days after the final deadline has passed and grow increasingly taller and harder to vault over the closer to the Notification Date that you get. 

The first hurdle is Getting the Festival a Screener Copy to Review.
Since speed is of the essence, we would repeat the specific advice from our deadline reminder on Sunday:
Here is our suggestion for how to submit and give yourself the best chance of having your film picked.
If you are submitting through

Submit your film as a Secure Online Screener. (Only Festivals that you submit to can see your film.)

We will assemble a judging panel and let you know within one business day, how likely we are to program your film. (i.e. Whether or not you need to mail us physical copies of your film.)


On the other hand, if you would like to submit directly to the Festival, download the 2011 application form from here: 2011 YoungCuts Application Form.

You can scan the completed form and e-mail it to us at or fax it us at 514-227-5158.

Then pay the submission fee by Paypal to or fax us a credit card authorization to 514.227.5158.

Finally, upload your film to, protect it with a password, e-mail us the link and password and again within one business day, we will let you know if you need to send us physical copies of your film.

Your second hurdle is Getting the Festival Physical Copies of Your Film.
Be sure that you understand exactly what the Festival wants. Be ready to ship them the material that they want, when they ask for it. Be extra careful to test what you are sending so that there are no errors or glitches. Try to ship it so that you can track your package and make sure that the Festival receives it. Be careful of special circumstances that could cause a delay (like say the current Postal Strike in Canada.) 

The third hurdle is Having Made a Great Film.
Keep in mind here that the Festival is in full swing watching and judging the Festival Submissions. In some categories, they may already be penciling in rough screenings of films. Before the final deadline, you just needed to get a Festival judge to fall in love with your film and champion it. Now you might need to convince a judge to fall out of love with another film so that you can take its spot. It is not going to happen if your film is as good as the films already submitted. It has to be better. And the closer to the Notification Date, the better that your film needs to be to be selected.

The fourth hurdle is the Length of Your Film
Again the Festival judges are already starting to pencil in rough screenings. If they are programming 100 minutes and they have 75 minutes penciled in, that leaves 25 minutes of film to program. If you have a 30 minute film, the judges either have to decide to make the screening longer or bump one of their rough picks to play your film. In either case, if they do pick your film it probably leaves them no room to program other films during that screening, which they may be reluctant to do. The closer to the Notification Date, the closer to being fixed the screenings will be and the harder that it will be to squeeze in a longer film. As a general rule, the closer to the Notification Date, the shorter that your film will need to be to be chosen. 

The fifth and final hurdle is Responding Quickly to the Festival
As a Festival gets closer and closer to making its Selection, it sometimes needs information or material from a filmmaker. How quickly they can get that information or material can sometimes be a way that the Festival decides between two equally good films. If the jury is divided between two films and both films are missing information or material, the filmmaker who responds fastest and best to the Festival Director's requests is going to see their film get programmed. 


So, again, yes, you can have a deadline waiver, but be sure that you are ready to run the race and vault every hurdle along the way before you start running.  

Submit Yesterday! or Faster Even!

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