One of my pet peeves about the festival circuit is that while most of them do a fantastic job of getting people to the theater to see films from around the country, they don't seem all that concerned with helping filmmakers turn that into something tangible. And while street cred is nice, in a environment where it's increasingly important that filmmakers find ways to make their money back without standard distribution, a festival needs to better focus on helping filmmakers with the self-distribution they're inevitably going to have to do.
You'll see this soon, I'm sure.
With that in mind, I'm teaming with the beautiful restored Hollywood Theater in Pittsburgh to present "Indies for Indies", a filmmaker-centric festival/screening series designed to help filmmakers grow their audience in Pittsburgh and, perhaps mostly, importantly, help put money in their pockets in the meantime. We're working toward the last week of February as a start date. It'll be on-going from there.
Each week, we'll screen a different feature-length film paired with a short three times. I'll act as the master of ceremonies, if you will, and work with filmmakers to promote their film locally. The filmmaker behind the features will get 25% of all ticket sales (we'd love to make it more, but we have to ensure the series survives first) and will be encouraged to sell merchandise at the venue, of which they, of course, will keep 100%.
We're really not sure yet how much that'll be, but we're hoping to grow it into something significant. With some luck, we might even be able to bring out of town filmmakers in to talk about their films. We're also going to try and get local businesses involved in some way, but we're not really sure how yet. One of our primary goals is to make this as attractive as possible for filmmakers, to find ways to get them as much money back as possible, because if you can't make a little bit of your budget back, how are you going to make another film?
We've already got local media support lined up, so at very least, the films will get some sort of media push in Pittsburgh. And that might really be the biggest value of the series to a filmmaker, the chance to get a foothold in a city where they otherwise might have trouble, a chance to connect with audience members that could become fans of theirs for years down the road.
Since it's a festival, the series won't affect distribution or anything like that, plus you get to be an Official Selection, which is always nice to put on the webpage.
We've already contacted a number of filmmakers about this opportunity, but I don't know everyone and I expect some of the best films we could screen I don't know anything about. So, we're accepting submissions, starting now. The submission fee is small, because as a filmmaker I know how annoying submission fees can be, but we have to pay operating expenses somehow. The fees:
Features (narrative, 70 min or longer): $20
Shorts (15 minutes or shorter): $10
We'll be set up on Withoutabox soon and there's a webpage coming, but in the meantime, email us for details: indiesonindies [at] gmail.com
 I'm sure this is not true of all festivals.