Maybe you’ve never submitted to a festival and are hesitant to put your hard work out there, only to be crushed by denial letters. Maybe you’ve had films in other festivals but don’t know if Mountainfilm is the right fit. Maybe you’re wondering why entry fees are so high.
Below are some frequently asked questions that we receive at Mountainfilm in Telluride. For more details specific about Mountainfilm’s selection process, read Program Director Emily Long’s blogs: “How to Get a Film Accepted,” “The Secrets of Film Festival Selection” and “Making a Film is Only Half the Battle.”
Note: Most of the specific questions about fees, deadlines, process and method for submitting to Mountainfilm in Telluride are listed on our website on the Submit a Film page.
Q) Is my film a good fit for your festival?
A) Mountainfilm focuses mainly on documentary films (though we sometimes screen narratives, both short and feature length) in the broad categories of adventure, environment and culture. While mountain life is certainly part of our programming, we also have a lot of work that is eclectic and often view “mountain” as a metaphor for challenge. Just because your film doesn’t have a mountain in it, doesn’t mean that it won’t work in our programming.
Unfortunately, there is no way for us to know the answer to that question unless we get a chance to watch the entire film. A synopsis or a trailer may give us a good idea of what could fit into Mountainfilm, but there’s no guarantee that it will.
Q) What happens to my film after it is submitted?
A) At Mountainfilm, films are regularly processed in the office and sent to our screening committee. Each film is viewed by at least two screening committee members, at a minimum, and if they say yes, it makes its way to the festival director, who will screen it and decide if it belongs in the final program.
Q) Who is on your screening committee?
A) Our screening committee is comprised of 15 volunteers, including current and former Mountainfilm staff and board, festival filmmakers, audience members and the local media.
Q) How many films are submitted to Mountainfilm every year?
A) We average approximately 450 to 500 submissions.
Q) How many films are accepted?
A) Generally 75 to 80 films are accepted into the festival, which means we have roughly a 16 percent acceptance rate. (That’s three times better than your chances of getting into Harvard!)
Q) Why do you charge entry fees?
A) Film festivals charge fees for a variety of reasons: One is to limit the number of submissions; another is because it costs money to run an open submission system. The final answer a frustrating one: Because we can. With so many filmmakers in the world, there is a copious supply of films. One film won’t make or break a festival, so we — for better or worse — have the upper hand. We promise we won’t use that power for evil.
Q) I’m a poor, starving, student filmmaker. Can I get a fee waiver?
A) Believe it or not, most film festivals are also poor. Mountainfilm is a non-profit organization, so with us, rest assured that your submission dollars are not being wasted on cognac-fueled Vegas parties. Ticket sales at festivals rarely provide enough income to keep the projector rolling and as with most arts, a festival is an commodity that the entire community has to embrace and support. Most festivals generate income through sponsors, generous donors, in-kind product support, volunteer hours and other means. Sound familiar? We’re all in this because we believe in the power of film and want to build community around a dark room with a flickering screen. That said, it never hurts to ask for a fee waiver, but keep your letter short and specific and include a trailer only if it is shorter than four minutes.