As screenwriters, we also tend to wear multiple hats to get our scripts filmed—which is why I wanted to share the article below. It spells out why all film festivals are not created equal. (Just like all screenplay competitions!)
The article is truly shocking and important for everyone to read. It’s important to know that many people pray on filmmakers and screenwriters with what looks like career opportunities. The only way to protect yourself is to checkout these events before you enter. Do a Google search for reviews on the festival (or contest), as well as reaching out to other filmmakers (or screenwriters) on social media. Sure, not everyone’s opinion is gold, but this is where building friends in the industry will really payoff—especially when you respect their work and know they are out there attempting to accomplish the same thing you are—Hollywood success!
Sometimes, it’s very hard to find anything out there about a festival or contest. That by itself is a red flag. Check their website and if that also seems lacking, make note of it and look for something better. I don’t know of many legit contests or festivals that don’t have a solid website promoting their winners.
You won’t be the first to fall for a festival scam, but a little research can help avoid ones that have a track record of duping filmmakers. I’d even take the time to discover which film festivals have long track records of delivering on what they claim to offer. Just like screenwriting, there are a handful of competitions that have real industry clout. That also makes them harder to get into and win an award, but at least your time, effort and budget won’t be misspent.