Top Five Tips for Spotting a Scam/Fake Film Festival

Top Five Tips for Spotting a Scam/Fake Film Festival


The emergence of innovative festival submission platforms has totally revolutionised the film festival industry. Platforms such as Filmfreeway, Festhome, Filmfestivallife etc have created and built a truly awesome platform helping to make the interactions between filmmakers and film festivals seamless at the click of a button.

With every innovative product comes a side effect. For the film festival submission industry, this is in the form of how easy it is to create festivals sorely with the intention of scamming unsuspecting filmmakers. These 5 tips will help you increase your chances of not falling for these kinds of festivals.

If the festival is less than 3 years. Watch out.

60% of film festivals today die after just 3 years of operation. The fact that receiving submissions have been made so simple today doesn’t guarantee that a festival will keep standing after a while. Running a film festival is very serious work. Administrative wise, scouting and managing volunteers, venue preparation, sponsors etc are some of the basic issues a festival battles with every year and not many have the will power or strength to manage and handle this. We usually advise that the credibility of a festival should be taken more seriously if it has been running for at least 3 years. For festivals that have to survive this long, maybe, just maybe they will live for the next 5 more years.

Check out the festival’s website.

Now, scam festivals have definitely upped their game today by making sure they invest in their website. They go all out to make sure their website is virtually appealing and less suspicious. But there is just so much they can hide. Go beyond the catchy design and look deeper. Visit their website, go through their galleries and see the kind of pictures from screenings and award events they put up there from past editions. Check out the events where they claim their screenings took place and search on google if truly those places exist on the map. Check out the contact details and organisers of the festival and cross-check their names and profile on LinkedIn. You will be amazed at the level of information you will discover through this simple background check

Send an inquiry email to their team and see how fast they respond.

We believe that if you have to wait for so long to get feedback on your inquiry to a mid-size or small community film festival with an entry fee, then they don’t deserve your submission fee or better still, they don’t care about your film, they only care about making sure you input those credit card details and pay their submission fee. Obviously, this might not be the case especially for the big festival (for obvious reasons), but we strongly believe a small size film festival number 1 priority should be the level of attention to the filmmakers and their films. Note that this isn’t a priority for other top-notch film festivals, but that this should be more deliberate for other small film festivals

Google for any press releases about the festival.

No matter how small a festival is, there should be at least 1 external media outlet that has talked about it. It can be a community news outlet, a blog, a youtube channel profile etc. I have seen a film festival currently in its second year and not one media outlet has written about its first edition. We couldn’t even find a list of selected films or films that won awards at the first edition, yet, it claimed to be a top-notch film festival sponsored by the government of that country. We finally confirmed the festival was real and truly held its first edition but we definitely didn’t submit our film to this festival because its PR was totally bad. The festival would have turned out to be a scam festival and we wouldn’t have been surprised as this is one of the traits of such kinds of festivals.

Are there too many award categories?

If their website links to a filmfreeway page only and filled with so many categories (e.g best makeup, best actor less than 10 years, best actress less than 5 years etc) just walk away. It’s probably not worth your entry fee.

There are many more signs to watch out for but your guts should be able to tell if a festival looks fishy from the clues above. Goodluck with your submissions.

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