Online Film Submission Platforms Unite To Promote Fair Business Practices

On 20th October, the online film submission platforms FesthomeFilmFestivalLifeReelport, Shortfilmdepot and Uptofest signed and officially launched the 'Fair Submissions' Code of Ethics - expressing their common desire to share fair business practices. They commit to offer filmmakers, festivals and any other agent in the global film industry guarantees of a service of quality.

In recent years the interaction involved in submitting a film to a festival has been greatly improved by the appearance of online submission services, allowing filmmakers and festival organizers to efficiently exchange films and information over the web.

However, not being an area of online commerce with specific legal regulations has given way to tricksters and hoax artists to follow deceiving ways in order to 'make a quick dollar' from filmmakers. In some cases so-called platforms let filmmakers submit their films to festivals they don't have agreements with, thus collecting fees from filmmakers without knowing if the festivals will even consider the submission. In other cases these platforms accept submissions on behalf of 'festivals' that are either completely fake or very poorly organized events which were set up with the sole purpose of collecting submission fees for quick profit, misleading inexperienced filmmakers into believing that they will get the chance to show their work and get recognition in a professional environment.

'It is easy to find rotten apples in a basket if you leave the basket in the open. Those who treat filmmakers like ATMs are not the ones we want to be identified with. "We" means those online submission platforms that attempt to providing a good service at a reasonable rate and believe that honesty should preside our operations. We are all online submission platforms, but a distinction had to be made.' Victor M. Muñoz, Communication Manager at Festhome

Last February, while attending the Clermont-Ferrand Market, Festhome, Reelport and Uptofest agreed on an initiative that soon was welcomed and joined by FilmFestivalLife and Shortfilmdepot: creating a document that regulated their behavior as online submission platforms, to not be mistaken for their ambiguous and unethical competitors. This self regulation took the form of a Code of Ethics for Fair Submissions that the five committed to adhere to.

'By signing this code, we want to ring a bell about the highly ambiguous practices of some of the online film submission service providers. Pratices which may not yet be known to the public and - even worse - to film professionals using them. Joining our most valued competitors we want to unequivocally demonstrate that we are all for competition - as long as it is fair and it happens within the realm of legal and ethical conduct. Not only to protect ourselves, but all the parties involved, particularly the filmmakers.' Luca Zamai, Founder & CEO at FilmFestivalLife

The document is available on the dedicated website, where it can be already accessed in four different languages. 'Fair Submissions is a powerful joint statement, providing filmmakers and festivals with an unprecedented landmark in securing good practices in the online film submission process. These are essential, especially for short film, where filmmakers are always grateful for guidance when they start navigating the international festival circuit.' Laurent Crouzeix, Project Manager at Shortfilmdepot

'The setup of "Fair Submissions - Code of Ethics" mirrors our intention to be easily identifiable as service providers that users can trust, which is empowered by the code itself and by the Fair Submissions Stamp placed on each of the signing platforms' websites.' Annie Doerfle, Account Manager at Reelport

'The Code of Ethics looks forward to motivate other platforms to join us and together improve fair business practices', says Luis Collar, Managing Director at Uptofest. In order to adhere to the 'Fair Submissions' Code of Ethics interested platforms will have to accept verification of its actual implementation and would be added to the list of official signatories upon their unanimous decision.

All five platforms behind the initiative will be attending the Winterthur Short Film Festival November 6th to 9th, participating in a panel about the future of short film, where they will also be officially introducing Fair Submissions to the attending public and will be available for questions and interview requests. 

22 October 2014, by Cineuropa Shorts