How many submissions does DWF receive?

We received nearly 2000 submissions in 2015. Don’t worry about the number of films that we receive because, frankly, DWF screens films differently than any film festival that we know of.  Also we do not ‘ask’ films to submit …never have, never will. When a festival ‘invites’ a film to submit or screen at their fest – it effectively eliminates screening slots that should have been given to filmmakers who actually submitted.  Bottom line – If your film is AWESOME – we want to see it.

Will my film get seen?

All films go through a preliminary screening process of three screeners. They are ALL viewed in their entirety – PERIOD. We do not watch films for the first five minutes to see if it ‘hooks’ us. By the time a film reaches the point of being selected for the festival – it is viewed many additional times.

Our choices are not accidents. Frankly, you shouldn’t have to thank ANY film festival for viewing your film. It is their obligation – not their prerogative.

Yeah, right…EVERY film festival “say” they watch everything…

You’re not very trusting, are you? If you are unlucky enough to receive a rejection letter (we interrupt this sentence to say – we REALLY hate calling them rejection letters – it’s just an opinion – no single opinion on the face of this earth will make or break your film. We now return to our statement in progress…) you won’t just get a form letter. We actually comment on your submission. We are probably one of the only film festivals in the country that actually receives ‘thank you’ letters for our rejection letters. But let’s get real. It’s a matter of respect. We care about people because if you are lucky enough to be a part of DWF – we don’t want the attitude. We want the talent, not the bull. Please note that while we do send back ‘positive’ comments from our panelists – we do not send a critique unless requested after the fact.

Who the heck do you guys think you are, charging entry fees to indie filmmakers?

Entry fees are an integral part of running the festival. Remember, we are not some corporation. We ARE filmmakers. As a rule the festival will not waive the entry fee to anyone. If we did it for one we would have to do it for everyone in fairness. Our entry fee is pretty average. If it is of huge concern, don’t wait until the late deadline.

Do you guys give out awards?

Yes – the festival is competitive – however keep in mind that we are not the ‘special olympics’ of independent film festivals (you probably have heard the stories of some festivals who give out awards to practically every film that screens – in fact there is one out there that has been known to give out awards to films that have never even screened in their festival…). While the festival is competitive we do not look at our filmmakers as competing against each other…afterall – who’s to say that the color of blue is better than the color of red? But finally – yes – we do give out awards.

Is premiere status important?

YES. Generally if your project has been seen in Los Angeles prior to our festival – it would have to be AMAZINGLY strong for us to program it in ours. Why?…you ask – do we care? Good question. It is important because DWF is regularly ‘scouted’ by industry and we aim to have films that they have not seen. Also we strive to give filmmakers who have not had a prior opportunity to screen in Los Angeles the advantage. That being said – we will always go with the strongest submissions that meet our criteria – period.

What exactly does ‘unknown’ mean?

Basically you have to answer two questions honestly about your project if you believe that you might have a ‘name’ in your film:

1] Did the person in question – based solely on their ‘name’ – have ANYTHING to do with raising even small sums of money toward the budget of the film? and:

2] Do you believe that their ‘name’ alone will open up any distribution doors?

If there is a question and you really want to submit the project – you may put a note on the submission form stating that you think there might be a conflict. If, after our review, your film is not selected due to the ‘name’ conflict – we will return your entry fee. Please also realize that DWF does program films out-of-competition (Fusion Section) and there is the possibility that it could be programmed in this category.

Shorts…what do you consider ‘short?’

As far as shorts go – yeah, we are looking for shorts 30 minutes or less. If it’s around 30 minutes, don’t worry about it – we’ll look at it. If it’s WAY OVER 30 minutes – it’s not a short… HOWEVER, keep in mind – we have screened ‘shorts’ that were more than 45 minutes long. We really try to find the best without all the rules.

May I re-submit a film?

You can always re-submit a project. DWF has, in its history, programmed films which had been submitted before. A few such films have actually won awards. It isn’t a matter of whether a film was glossed over the previous year – because we don’t ‘gloss over’ films – it has more to do with the inner workings of the festival. (i.e. – who was on the selection committee the previous year…how the film compared to others submitted…if the films had major reworking since the last submittal, etc.)

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