Below are some frequently asked questions that we receive at Mountainfilm.
Note: Most of the specific questions about fees, deadlines, process and method for submitting to Mountainfilm 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 include an eclectic mix of films that celebrate indomitable spirit. Just because your film doesn’t include a mountain doesn’t mean that it won’t work in our programming.
Unfortunately, there is no way for us to know the answer to this 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 processed in the office and sent to our screening committee. Each film is viewed by at least two screening committee members, and if approved it makes its way to the festival director, who decides 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 local media.
Q) What qualities do accepted films share?
A) We accept films that are compelling, engaging, inspiring, moving and make the audience care more about the world. And while an excellent story is a great foundation for a good documentary, it has to be well told to really make an impact. Quality cinematography, editing, graphics and sound also matter.
Q) How many films are submitted to Mountainfilm every year?
A) We average approximately 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) What length of film is Mountainfilm looking for?
A) We seek everything from 2-minute shorts to 100-minute features. Because of time constraints and festival scheduling, it's generally easier to get a short film accepted than a feature. Keep in mind: The most common reason the screening committee cites when denying a film is "too long."
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 nonprofit organization, so rest assured that your submission dollars are not 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 a 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's shorter than 4 minutes.