FilmFestivalLife discontinuing service on February 15th, 2021

With great sadness we’re announcing today that on February 15th, 2021 FilmFestivalLife is going to stop collecting film submissions. This is the first step before a total platform shutdown a month later.

Timetable:

  • Until February 14th, 2021: We’ll still collect submissions as usual.
  • February 15th, 2021: All open calls will be automatically closed. Filmmakers will no longer be able to submit their films to FFL partner festivals.
  • February 15th – March 14th, 2021: Festivals and their teams will be able to access their accounts and your submission panels, screen and evaluate all current submissions and get in touch with the filmmakers over FFL’s communication panel. In this time festivals will have to screen and select their submissions and export all necessary information for further handling.
  • March 15th, 2021: We’ll take the platform offline. We will however keep a record of all activities and data until December 31st, 2021.
  • January 1st, 2022: All data will be irreversibly deleted.

Why is this happening?

When we launched FFL in 2012 we had an ambitious plan: Creating fierce competition in the formerly Withoutabox-controlled area of online film submissions, with a modern, more user friendly, transparent and convenient platform. We bootstrapped the project without big investments putting all our time and effort into passionately creating and making this new platform known and respected. And we achieved this goal for a while. It was an exciting time, a roller coaster of memories. I had the honor to collaborate with an inspiring bunch of people, to whom I’ll be eternally grateful for their dedication, passion, inspiration and love. The FFL offices were a place I longed going to every single day, just to meet those people and grow with them. It was fun and rewarding.

Then FilmFreeway came along, with significant backing and admittedly better technology and user experience. They also had an amazing marketing department and an unbeatable business model: “free”. They did everything right. And we started lagging behind. No capital to execute the meanwhile needed usability improvements or to hire a marketing superstar. The end was already looming.

Our business model couldn’t compete, but also couldn’t be changed into FilmFreeway’s commission-based model because of the type of festivals we were mostly working with: Festivals without fees. For this reason we couldn’t embrace the “free” model – even if we would have loved too. We introduced convenient “Film Plans” striking deals with festivals to make submissions even cheaper than at FilmFreeway’s. Still, being more convenient than them didn’t outweigh the perception that we weren’t “free”.

Several diversification attempts like the “FFL-Agency” or the “FFL-Hub” – which we also developed ambitiously and passionately – were never able to take off. Whenever we implemented a fee, however little it was, someone came along with the all so common “If only it was free…”. It was frustrating.

Not being a charitable association or a state subsidized enterprize, it became impossible for us to create sustainability.

Then came Covid19 and here we are today.

It hurts to kill this baby. It hurts to write these lines. It hurts to have failed you, dear filmmakers and festival people, who we ultimately started this journey for.

Many festivals and filmmakers are hurting because of the pandemic – we hope you are personally not affected too bady. In case you are, our thoughts go out to you. We’ll come out of this stronger!

We wish everyone the best and hope our paths will cross again.

Luca Zamai

Luca Zamai is the CEO and founder of FFL. His film career began as director of photography in the field of reportages and documentaries for international TV and film productions including ARD, Arte, VOX, Channel 4, RAI, MTV and VIVA. Since 2001, he has progressively shifted to production management, seeing him directing and producing short films. Luca is seriously invested in his film community, often appearing as guest speaker for filmmaker support initiatives and advising as a panelist for film schools and festivals including HFF Potsdam, ISF Köln, Berlinale and Sehsüchte. Reach him at luca@filmfestivallife.com

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