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Temecula Valley Film Festival Is Not For Indies…

What a beautiful location and what a great place to bring indie films.

What a pity that the organizer, Ms Jo Moulton is not at all a film lover and has no respect for indie filmmakers.

Unless you are a big star, your film will screen in a storage room with no AC and plastic folding chairs, just like ours did.

This place would kill an inmate, forget about room filled with audience.  After 10 minutes of extreme temperatures and the staff walking back and forth through an old door that always lets in so much light that you see absolutely nothing on the projector screen, almost 1/2 of the audience walked out. This never happened to us before, as we always had packed screenings at other reputable festivals and audience waited way after the screening to take part in Q&As. Of course no Q&A was to take place in Temecula….

Temecula FF only respects filmmakers who can bring in a celebrity. In that case,  you are treated VIP style with wine, photographers and red carpet. Everybody else is pushed to the side and screening room where they screen true indie films is worse than my kid projector in the basement.

Ms Jo Moulton who runs the festival asked me about 8 times during the few days the festival runs who I am and what film I am with. She also told me that one of her worst nightmares just came through, because her daughter has decided to be a filmmaker. Jo doesn’t like films or filmmakers and the festival she runs is not a place for any indie artist.

During our red carpet arrival, every filmmaker is to get some camera time with local TV station. As our turn came, the reporter started uncomfortable looking to the side behind us. We turned around and saw one of the festival volunteers pushing a bigger star through the crowd. We were immediately pushed away as the little starlet was placed right in front of my face. Goodbye our 5 minutes of fame.

The award ceremony is a joke where no awards are given to films screened, unless they are local to Temecula. The rest of the night is filled with honoring of big hollywood filmmakers and bands that have never heard of this place before. There is also and audience award, which, in our case didn’t matter at all, because room we screened in didn’t even have hosts or volunteers to distribute the ballots.
Will never come back to the festival, but will visit the town again for its wineries and really friendly people.

Final evaluation:

Price: very affordable
Perks: lots of free wine

Media: local newspapers and TV that gives attention to big stars and films of the festival
Interaction with filmmaker: interaction with celebrities only

Rating on a scale from 1-10: 5


Final thought: I was so very sad that the events at this festival turned out so unfortunate. I wish we had some big stars, I wish we had big movie to show, because the people in the town are so lovely. The main theater is beautiful and the wine is of course delicious. It is a great place for a day trip and wine tasting,  but don’t bother if you are a filmmaker.


List of scam festivals for 2009 from our experience

January 7, 2010 1 comment

IndieFest Chicago

Queens Film Festival

Montana Independent Film Festival

La Femme Film Festival

WildSound Feedback

Temecula Valley Film Festival

ReelHeart International Film Festival

More reviews are coming up. Please feel free to add bad experiences that you had.

Filmmakers Avoid La Femme Film Festival

January 7, 2010 1 comment

Terrible and expensive place to screen. For the submission fee of $70, you get a room with a couple of chairs and none of your posters nowhere to be seen. We were also “lucky” enough to have our screening scheduled against the opening party of the festival. Needless to say that nobody had any idea we were showing, besides our friends.
Also needless to say, that there was no effort from the festival organizer to put any attention to our film, because our time slot was in competition with the film crew, that paid huge money to the festival publicist.
During the closing ceremony, we struggled to find parking place, because place dedicated to VIP only was not for us. The parking attendant laughed when we asked and said : “Well, are you a celebrity?” Foolish of us to think that since our film was at the festival, we might have been the VIPs. At that point, we were so upset, that we approached the organizer Ms Leslie La Page to find out what exactly happened with our screening, our posters and her festival. She was very busy standing around carrying a baby, I guess her son…
Upon our approach, she started looking very uncomfortable, claiming she is very busy and cannot talk to us. We did mention we emailed her earlier with no feedback. She started getting more upset, looking for any way out. We left. We didn’t bother to attend award ceremony, that was dedicated to people, who paid thousands of dollars to receive her award.
How does this woman sleep at night? Scamming filmmakers of their money, taking their promotional materials and trashing them right away? If this woman is really a mother, I feel very sorry for the children she will raise. Nothing good comes from family of thieves, liars and con artists. Avoid this place if you are a serious filmmaker. If you film is no good, this place might be a great for you, because for few thousand $, you can buy attention, great screening time, publicity and award. No respect though. That you can only buy with good film.

Final evaluation:
Price: expensive
Perks: some if you have extra
$ to pay for them
Media: Ms Leslie has some friends that lent their names to the festival, they are as interested in indie film as I am in farming
Professionalism: appears good until personal contact
Interaction with filmmaker: only with the rich ones

Rating on a scale from 1-10:  3 (at least the “festival” takes place)


Final thought: After receiving emails from other filmmakers that attended La Femme, wanting to stop Ms LaPage from running

the festival another year, I realized, that we came out OK. We didn’t pay any additional money besides the submission fee, we didn’t get

scammed into her bogus publicist, we didn’t travel across the country to attend this circus. We came out OK, just smarter. Will you?

Montana Independent Film Festival (MTIFF)

November 17, 2009 6 comments

This was the third year for this “film festival” and we should have known better and save ourselves the $60 submission fee.
Upon receiving the acceptance letter, we were also informed, that if we are planning to make the journey
to Montana for this film-festival, we should absolutely contact the festival organizers.
I have tried this for over 3 weeks without an email or phone call response. Again, we should have known ….
Because we were planning our trip to other film festivals and needed to arrange the plane tickets accordingly, we purchased the flights to Montana before we got any response from the MTIFF organizers. Unfortunately, the day after I was finally able to get in touch with Mr Gil Claveria who runs the MTIFF as well as another festival (also in 3rd year), called Mockfest.
He was very surprised when I told him that we were planning to attend the festival and he tried by all means to change our mind. However, our tickets were non-refundable and we just couldn’t understand why the film festival founder wouldn’t like us to attend, so we decided to check it out. What a terrible waste of money and time!
The festival was to run September 26th and 27th and we have arrived the day of into a small town of Misoula, Montana.
Earlier during the day, we went on checking the town out and finding out the response of the locals to a festival running in their town.
We have found what we expected; nobody in town ever heard of the festival, there were no posters or other promotional material posted anywhere and our hotel had no idea what we were talking about, when we asked if it would be possible to leave our film postcard in the lobby for the film festival.
Upon trying to check in to the festival, we were told by the cash register attendant, that he was not affiliated with the festival and we better wait. And so we did. Finally, a man in a ponytail showed up, only to escort 3 young kids around the theater.
He didn’t look like he was part of the festival, and definitely didn’t acknowledge us while we were the only ones waiting in the lobby.
So we left and went to grab a lunch. The first screening was supposedly already taking place, but since we didn’t see anyone, didn’t meet anyone, we didn’t bother.
We went back after about 1 hour and finally were able to introduce ourselves to the man in ponytail. He laughed and said he didn’t know who we were. Then he said he was joking. Then he said of course he didn’t have any passes or information for us, but we are welcome to go into the theater and see the movie playing.
The auditorium was deserted. Of course. We stayed and watched the movies, that were not bad and left.
As we did, we met with a friend of ours, also a filmmaker. He was very apologetic about MTIFF saying he had no idea why is nobody there.
The festival organizer and his wife did their best to avoid us the whole weekend. We realized, at this point, that it was all a scam, as some locals in town told us, that the building the festival is taking place in, have been closed for years and not in operation. They had no idea you could go and see a movie there, let alone film festival.
We were finally able to meet the founders the night of the “Awards.”
Surprisingly, the auditorium was half full. We had no idea where these dressed up people came from. Then we found out.
The 3 kids from a day earlier are local “filmmakers”, students at local university and this was their first time they showed at film festival. All their friends showed up to see them receive an “award.” Our film and our friend’s film were “nominated.” I guess, just to make up for our trouble, and since there were no other filmmakers there, why not. I have to say, it meant nothing. The festival also means nothing on IMDb, where their awards and nominations are not recognized.
We met Mr Claveria. He claimed to be terribly sick and asked us to keep our distance. He did play with his little daughter the entire time. We left. Bitter feeling left in our mouths. What a scam! What a waste! And what a joke.
With a little effort, this festival could have audience and appear half way decent. The nearby university, the town of friendly locals are all hungry for any entertainment. The beautiful theater and building that nobody knows it exists just goes to waste.

Final evaluation:
Price: expensive
Perks: none

Media: zero
Professionalism: very poor
Interaction with filmmaker: minimal

Rating on a scale from 1-10: 2 (only because the films we have seen there were all excellent)

Final thought: I hear Mr Claveria is making a movie, starring his beautiful wife.
I am glad he doesn’t have troubles like the rest of us filmmakers, that is, finding a budget for his

Please, let me know if reviews of this type are helpful to you.
What other information shall I add?
Shall I be more detailed? Shall I give shoutouts to films that are screened?
Please, leave a comment with your feedback or experience 🙂
Thank you filmmakers. Cheers!

AOF (Action on Film) Festival Review

October 8, 2009 4 comments

Let me just start with: What a great place to screen your film and meet other equally dedicated filmmakers!
AOF Film Festival runs during the last week of July in Pasadena, which is roughly 15 min drive from the center of Los Angeles.
What’s great about this place is that Pasadena lives and breaths filmmakers during this week.
Right upon arrival, we were welcomed with a nice goodie bag filled with helpful filmmaking things, magazine subscriptions, some gifts and invitations to local places.
Also, the full festival schedule and promo material for each film screening was included.

Our film poster was framed in front of the theater and other posters kept rotating throughout
the week inside the main screening hall.
We were first advised to walk few block over to get our filmmaker interviews videotaped and enjoy
free coffee and wifi.
While there, we met the organizer of the festival, Del Weston, who introduced himself and
immediately recognized the film we were representing. He was very excited to meet us and helpful
with whatever questions we had.
Let me just point out, that this was our first feature film. Nobody in the film has a name, there are
no celebrities, the budget is minimal. The welcome was great! We kept running into festival
filmmakers throughout the whole week and made lots of new connections.
Whenever we had a question or concern, somebody took care of us immediately and solved or fixed whatever was needed.
There were 2 parties happening every night after the screenings where both of the organizers attended and hand out free drink coupons to filmmakers.

Considering press and media, there definitely were opportunities to meet people involved and get your word about your film out. Most screenings were properly announced and filmmakers were invited for Q&A after their film finished.

To be fair, I also need to point out the few of the weaknesses of this festival:
First of all, there were some films we saw that should have never been screened at a festival.
I am sure it is all politics and friends of friends, but there were films with production quality
worse than home made videos. That being said, it wasn’t many and the worse films were all scheduled at “less convenient” times. 🙂
Also, all filmmakers have to pay for their Award Show tickets, which are $150 per person and do not include free alcohol!!!! This is a “bit” much for any indie filmmaker especially if you have a larger crew attending.
But, if you do have a good project in your hands, the film festival will reward you for your art with
special acknowledgment, nomination or award.

The submission fee is anywhere between $45-$70 depending what and when you are submitting and I think it is absolutely worth the money. The connections we made, the films we saw and the treatment we received was exceptional. The screening rooms quality is exceptional and there were no major technical issues throughout the whole week!!! 🙂

Final evaluation:
Price: expensive
Perks: some goodies, some free drinks

Media: some
Professionalism: excellent
Interaction with filmmaker: better than awesome

Rating on a scale from 1-10:  9

Final thought: Would I screen here again?

Yes, Absolutely! This is really a great place to showcase your film and meet filmmakers from all around the world ( I can briefly recall connecting with artists that flew all the way from UK, India, Netherlands or Germany).
I am hoping to submit here again next year! And yes, I will mostlikely pay the $150 Award Show ticket again and will start saving for it right now! 🙂

Please, let me know if reviews of this type are helpful to you.
What other information shall I add?
Shall I be more detailed? Shall I give shoutouts to films that are screened?
Please, leave a comment with your feedback or experience 🙂
Thank you filmmakers. Cheers!

New Filmmakers in NYC

September 30, 2009 Leave a comment

New Filmmakers Series runs throughout the year once a week showcasing the works of independent filmmakers. It is not a festival per say. There are no awards and no ceremonies. But, you will get a chance to show your film at a very cool location (Anthology Film Archives) in NYC.
The organizers are very professional and you can arrange for technical screening prior to your show. They also introduce each filmmaker before their film is played and you get a chance to say few words about the film. They have always answered all my emails and were very clear from the start what to expect during the screening.
When it comes to media or press connections, I don’t believe that New Filmmakers has a great pull.
Even though we had almost full house, photographer on staff and enough buzz going on about the film, there wasn’t a single journalist attending the screening. New Filmmakers have announced the selection of our film about 6 months prior and therefore gave us enough time to promote the screening date. Still, there were no industrial professionals attending.
Also, in our case, we haven’t got a chance to do any Q&As. I have requested to the Q&As right before our screening and was told that it depends on time. When the film finished, the experience wasn’t as exciting as earlier, as there was no closing to the event. The lights simply went ON and since people kept sitting, waiting what happens next I basically stood up and asked all to leave.
New Filmmakers does screen interesting films and I believe their selections are fair. They give a chance to first time artists and it is a great event that lets you screen your film in a real theater for minimal budget.
Submission fee is $30 for features, $25 for shorts and $20 for students.

Final evaluation:
Price: affordable
Perks: 2 free passes to your screening.
Media: none
Professionalism: excellent
Interaction with filmmaker: good

Rating on a scale from 1-10:


Final thought: Would I screen here again? Yes, Absolutely! The theater is beautiful, the location is fantastic and for the ticket price ( $6 ) all your friends get to see your film in a real theater (capacity is about 180).

Please, let me know if reviews of this type are helpful to you.
What other information shall I add?
Shall I be more detailed? Shall I give shoutouts to films that are screened?
Please, leave a comment with your feedback or experience 🙂
Thank you filmmakers. Cheers!


Film festivals YES or NO?

September 28, 2009 2 comments

We have started our festival tour this year and found out that not all film festivals are there to help filmmakers. Some are only established by posers, who failed as filmmakers and use the festival cover to scam others of their money, while raising money for their next project. I have finally decided, that I will cover our experiences in a blog so you can see, which festivals worked for us, and which are a waste.
Looking forward to hear your feedback as well. Let’s make this blog a helping tool and collaborate together on festival advice. The best and worst of all should be reviewed here, so filmmakers know where to invest their submission $.