Festivals, cinema and then TV – is this still the common journey a film takes? […] we want to break with these common structures and want to offer opportunities for monetising films. We’re not an advocate of exclusivity,’ says Simon Zsebök, Festival Manager of the second Viewster Online Film Fest (#VOFF), who wants to offer filmmakers new ways into the market. The festival selection process is also unusual; as the audience can decide which film will be short listed for the jury, consisting of producer Ted Hope, director Timo Vuorensola and actress Nora Tschirner. With the theme ‘Relationship Status: It‘s complicated’, the online festival is looking for films about tricky relationships. Every film of more than three minutes length can apply and has the chance to win cash prizes totaling US$100,000. We had an inspiring chat with Zsebök about #VOFF, monetizing your film and why it‘s always the right time to submit to an online film festival…
Viewster Online Film Fest
Viewster Online Film Fest (#VOFF) is an online competition that is held four times a year with switching themes. Basically, the audience makes the decision on what films make the short list, which is then passed on to our jury of experts, who then choose the winners! So #VOFF in itself doesn‘t curate any content. The films are online to the worldwide public and they can watch, comment and share the films which will also affect the rankings. When they want to vote for a film, they need to register on Viewster first, a VOD platform, based in Switzerland, that operates the #VOFF.
The fight against exclusivity
I would say anytime is the best time to submit to an online festival, unless you don‘t want to be at an A-list festival. We fight against this rise in exclusivity. Here at Viewster we have the opinion that exclusivity is not forward-thinking enough. I think that festivals that require exclusivity are not helping filmmakers get forward in their careers. We see the importance in exposing the content to as many people as possible and with this reach then trying to monetise the film.
New ways of distribution
During the festival, submitted films will get global exposure from a special festival section on Viewster. The benefit there is that our whole Viewster community will then watch and vote for the submitted films. So it‘s a great way to showcase your film and to get attention for your work. Alongside this we have a prize money total of US$100,000 with the first place filmmaker winning $70,000! As an experience from our first edition we had a lot of positive feedback from people who said ‘hey, I haven‘t made it to the short list, but I did experience some good sales on my film because of the publicity I‘ve received from it‘. This was for example in New Zealand, where the producers sold their film to an airline thanks to the festival.
The importance of festivals
I definitely see a future for online film festivals. But I’m not sure if I’m seeing THE future in festivals online. Festivals should be developing more in the direction of showcasing their work to the world, to gain publicity, so that filmmakers can find distributors and other ways of monetising their work. Film festivals, online or not, are important, to get attention for the films – after all, being a filmmaker doesn‘t necessarily mean being good at marketing or finding financiers, distributors and so on. Film festivals are a good way to reach people from the industry and it‘s a place to sell a film. I think by doing this online you can definitely reach a wider audience, since the industry people don‘t have to physically be there. The classic way of getting your deals with festivals, cinema and TV is obsolete. Viewster represents a new way into the market, we want to break with these common structures and want to offer opportunities for monetising films. We’re not an advocate of exclusivity. Nowadays with the internet, exclusivity is old-school.
Modern ways of financing films
We have three jury members, led by American producer and CEO of Fandor, Ted Hope – particularly famous for his film 21 GRAMS. We have also the Finnish director Timo Vuorensola. He is well-known for his film project IRON SKY. He is currently working on the second part of this story about Nazis behind the moon. We felt that he is perfect for this jury because he‘s a pioneer in finding modern ways of financing films. He got nearly 1 million Euro with crowdfunding for IRON SKY and millions of people knew about his film before it was even produced. That’s the future of filmmaking! Nora Tschirner is our third jury member. She is not only a German actor, but also a producer and director. We thought those three are really a good team, who take on the short-listed films and can even give useful feedback at the end. All information about the festival can be found online at the Festival’s Homepage.
Online submission platforms
I think FilmFestivalLife has a good network of filmmakers and festivals. In general, I like the way of using film submission platforms. In our first edition, we tried using an uploader but we couldn‘t reach as much publicity as using the infrastructure film submission platforms like FilmFestivalLife provide.
Simon Zsebök, Festival Manager
Viewster Online Film Fest
Jun 12 – 26, 2014
Read more FOCUS features from FilmFestivalLife:
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