August 24, 2014

With Free Online Screeners, Is FilmFreeway Braced to Become Withoutabox's Serious Competition?

When Withoutabox first showed up, it was a boon to filmmakers. Not having to fill out a different form for every film festival submission saved endless headaches for us, and made the review process easier for film festivals. But this summer, alternative submission platform FilmFreeway has been steadily gaining respectable festivals to its banner, and toting an easy interface, free online screeners, and recent platform additions that bring it up to speed with Withoutbox, it might prove to be an enticing replacement to filmmakers frustrated with the WAB monopoly.

One of the growing sources of discontent between filmmakers and Withoutabox has been the WAB online screeners. The concept of an online screener is great -- it saves the filmmaker a trip to the post office, time in getting the DVD to programmers, not to mention it saves trees (and whatever substance DVDs are made of.) If you've ever submitted this way, you'll know Withoutabox has users upload videos to their IMDB page and opt to keep them private. However, the interface is somewhat limited, and something as simple as deleting videos often requires a support email. There's also no way to really know what it looks like on the film festival's end, which is a pretty serious concern since the most important aspect of a submission should be the film itself, and making sure the programming team sees it at its best.

FilmFreeway on the other hand, allows the filmmaker to control the online screener by using their own private link from Vimeo or YouTube for free. Sure, you can include a Vimeo link in your cover letter on Withoutabox, but you're not guaranteed that all programmers will see that. At about $2.95 a pop per WAB online screener (after the first freebie) you can start racking up the extra expenses if you plan to submit to a fair amount of festivals.

How does the rest of FilmFreeway stack up to Withoutabox?

Here is the familiar layout of Withoutabox:

Having used both, I can say that in my opinion, FilmFreeway's design is much cleaner and overall it's a lot easier to navigate. It has almost all the same features, having recently added such things as a press kit this summer. As of August, there seems to be no way to include a cover letter, which is unfortunate. If FilmFreeway could add the option of a cover letter, and even more fests started using FilmFreeway, it would make me reconsider using Withoutabox at all. Here is FilmFreeway's interface:

FilmFreeway claims to now have over 1,000 festivals using their platform, including EU's largest independent fest Raindance to 18-year-old doc fest Full Frame, as well as SF Indiefest, Indie Memphis, Cucaloris, and deadCENTER, to name a few.

If more festivals start using FilmFreeway, would you be looking to switch? What would you be looking for in a new festival submission platform? What would be deal breakers or makers?

Links:

Your Comment

29 Comments

I've been praying for a day when someone comes to compete with WAB. Their online screeners are the worst. You can't even screen in HD. I hope FilmFreeway becomes the standard. It's about time someone knocked WAB off it's outdated pedestal.

August 24, 2014 at 3:27PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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I only used WAB to submit to one festival and I wouldn't say it sucked, just that it could have been way better.

August 24, 2014 at 3:52PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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I've been submitting through them for about 8 years now and it was nice at first because they were the only ones streamlining the process. But now their website is clunky and outdated and the online screener system is like something out of 2005.

August 24, 2014 at 7:14PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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I would say it sucked. It's a joke of a website. I'm so glad someone is building an alternative.

August 24, 2014 at 11:16PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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"There’s also no way to really know what it looks like on the film festival’s end..."
Yes there is, you just watch it back. Alas, it's quality is terrible.

August 24, 2014 at 6:10PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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BTW there is also reelport.com which is better than wob but has it's own flaws

August 24, 2014 at 7:14PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Tony

The problem with Filmfreeway is that with some festivals you will never know if they are scam of fake. Please read this article in Indiewire and you will see that the only platform that allow those festivals to operate is Filmfreeway.

http://www.indiewire.com/article/an-iw-investigation-the-dark-underbelly...
http://www.indiewire.com/article/an-iw-investigation-the-dark-underbelly...

Could these festivals have any relation with ffw?

August 24, 2014 at 7:24PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Monty Lapica

Just do some simple google detective work and decide if it's something you want to submit to.
You should be doing that with any festival your thinking about submitting to, to begin with.
Boils down to common sense.

August 24, 2014 at 8:07PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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john forbes

Filmfreeway is SOOOOO EASY to submit that submitters doesn't have to read the festival guidelines to submit, easy trap for fast submitters, easy cash.

August 24, 2014 at 8:46PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Monty Lapica

Wait, so your complaint is that FilmFreeway is too easy to submit with? Haha. I bet Withoutabox wishes they had that problem.

August 25, 2014 at 3:26AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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John Thompson

You can read the regulations on the festival website. The link is provided at the festival page. And Filmfreeway is completely free for filmmakers. You don't have to pay for anything apart from the festival submission fee, if the festival has one. It has some flaws, just like above mentioned "cover letter", but considering other submission platforms like, Withoutabox, Reelport, Festhome, Shortfilm Depot; Filmfreeway is way BETTER!

August 26, 2014 at 11:15AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Rahul K

I'm not sure why you'd submit to festivals you haven't looked in to. You should know where your film fits in the circuit and what fests it'd play well at. The shotgun approach to festival submitting is always a bad idea, and the middleman (WAB or FilmFreeway) has nothing to do with it.

August 24, 2014 at 8:52PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Film Freeway is so much more easy to navigate around and the support is awesome!
The only perk for me using withoutabox was getting my imdb page. Other than that they are horrible!

Btw since imdb is owned by withoutabox or vice versa.......another big complaint is if I join IMDB pro and pay them $240 a year...why on earth should I have to pay $35 to upload my own poster??????
That's just disgusting!

August 24, 2014 at 8:00PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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john forbes

Well IMDB is owned by Amazon, so I guess WAB is too.

August 25, 2014 at 12:04PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Brian

I am a screener for a festival and I really HATED using WAB. The search engine was near useless, even for simple name searches. If you searched for "Army of Darkness" as an example and just searched one keyword, like "Darkness" it would return no matches! I would have use CTRL F to manually search the entire listing of entries to find my assigned movies to screen.

I don't know if there is an option for the flim makers to upload in HD, but every single entry I viewed was in 360p and looked terrible. I managed to find some of the entries off site and viewed them on Vimeo in HD, just because I didn't feel like being tortured anymore with WAB's terrible quality.

I've never used FF, but ANYTHING is a better alternative to WAB at this point.

August 24, 2014 at 9:06PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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ScreenerX

Wow, this new site seems like a WAB killer! Thanks for posting this.

August 24, 2014 at 9:43PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Michael Hawk

I love Filmfestivallife, Festhome, Reelport and Shortfilmdepot <3

August 25, 2014 at 12:09AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Lindsay Caine

I've used both and FilmFreeway is by far the best.

August 25, 2014 at 3:24AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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John Thompson

Just gave it a try, it's really awesome!
Easy, straightforward, pleasant interface, and absolutely free if you're submitting to small festivals who have no entry fees.

Best I experienced so far, after the disappointment towards Withoutabox and the ugly-fallacious-illogical-moneystealing Movibeta (never again!), then some average satisfaction with Festhome and the best in this bunch Shortfilmdepot and Reelport (solid and efficient as Germans can do).

Thanks guys, this is going to be my favorite platform from here on!

August 25, 2014 at 9:41AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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WITHOUTABOX sucks so bad there is even a website dedicated to why they suck!
http://withoutaboxsucks.com/

Here are the main reasons why:

1) GREEDY COMMISSIONS

They demand nearly 20% of the entry fees that they get from the festivals! This causes festivals to dramatically raise their prices to make up for this incredibly greedy commission. Even if your festival attracts people, you may not have all your operations costs covered, and many festivals have gone bankrupt after using Withoutabox

2) FORCED MARKETING PACKAGES

They force festivals to buy a “Marketing Package”, the cheapest of which starts at $750 and goes all the way up to $3,500 per month. Most festivals can barely survive as it is without having to be forced to buy so called “marketing packages.” The majority of these “marketing packages” are basically are just a very spammy email that they send out to an aging database of filmmakers

3) FORCE FILMMAKERS TO LICENSE RIGHTS

Buried in their terms of Service, Withoutabox makes outrageous claims on the intellectual property rights of entrants. This forces festival organizers have to deal with the fallout of such hidden consequences of using Withoutabox.

From their Terms of Service: “You grant us a nonexclusive, royalty-free, worldwide, perpetual, irrevocable, and fully sublicensable license right to use, copy, reproduce, transmit, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, and display any information, data, Work, or any other information associated with your Work (collectively the “Submitted Materials”) you submit to us via the Services in any media or format.”

They were the only major option to begin with but now for the first time they have serious competition!
They will be out of business soon I am sure!

August 25, 2014 at 11:46AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Carl Sandberg

using WAB to submit to fests right now and its such a joke of an interface, slow as hell, and looks like it hasnt been updated since 2004.

August 25, 2014 at 1:13PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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john jeffries

I know this is a US site but it still amazes me that so many people don't see past WAB to the likes of Shortfilmdepot and Reelport. OK, so these platforms deal largely (exclusively?) with fests outside of the US, but it's a big world out there and you don't want to ignore these, surely? Also, lots of these festivals don't have the almost-mandatory entry fee that seems to dominate WAB-affiliated US festivals.

FilmFreeway (hideous hipster branding notwithstanding) definitely shows steps in the right direction. Unfortunately, my first easy submission through it was indeed too good to be true when the festival then contacted me and asked if i could now register 'properly' through their own site.

But these are early days.

More and more festival platforms are springing up and it's frustrating because having too many of them works against the initial idea - a one-stop shop for submissions. Still, three or four platforms is better than hundreds of individual submissions.

August 25, 2014 at 2:58PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Simon Ellis

Thanks so much for turning me onto Filmfreeway! I just tried it and it's awesome - simple, fast, free, easy to navigate. Finally! Well, so long WAB, it's been real.

August 25, 2014 at 7:20PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Tim Roberts

A bit strange to talk about a "monopoly": other websites like Short Film Depot (http://shortfilmdepot.com), ReelPort (http://www.reelport.com) exist and also cover quite a lot of worldwide festivals…

August 27, 2014 at 9:45AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Is Without a Box reading this forum? Get a clue WAB. As a platform, you are as dead as Myspace. Just because you have big money behind you, does not make you something worth preserving. You are done, fine, finito.

August 29, 2014 at 8:40AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Love Filmfreeway! Only problem is that most of the free stuff is like in their first year, etc. and yes, who knows how real they are. I also wish there was more big time festivals listed, including Sundance. Ah well, hopefully soon at some point, 'cause it sure beats WAB's crud.

August 29, 2014 at 10:48AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Cal

Film Freeway is sooo much better. The only thing is they don't have as many festivals to choose from. But there are some good ones on there.

September 2, 2014 at 2:21PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Film Freeway is a scam. I was made aware of them on their launch date. I went through every film festival with a fine tooth comb and and after detailed research and checking the film fests in their line-up, the conclusion is that 80% of the fests/screenings are made-up, bogus fests that are are part of a bogus "Film Network", which is run by fake LLC's looking to take your money, a practice that has been running rampant in the film fest world for at least a decade. The other 20% legit fests are small, no-name, cannot-help-you-or-your-film" fests that screen on one day or a few hours at small theatre, screening facility, or car garage. It seems these young Canadians who started Film freeway were looking to be a part of the film fest world, but allowing every small and questionable fest to join them was a major fault and anyone who dies just a little homework can see that they are a small dot compared to the giant the WithoutABox is. I am no fan of WAB, in fact, they are outrageously overpriced with a very confusing list of instructions but, like it or not, the big boys like Sundance, Venice, Canne, Seattle, LAFF, Chicago, New York, AFI, and other top 50 tests are all WAB tests. Film Freeway is like a 5-year-old little boy trying to crash the senior high school dance. Ain't gonna happen.

September 2, 2014 at 5:52PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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John Wong

Really, dude? FilmFreeway has over 1,350 festivals already and it seems they have more and more every day I log on. I've submitted to over 50 very reputable festivals on FilmFreeway just myself, including some Oscar qualifying festivals. I'd say the high school dance has officially been crashed.

November 6, 2014 at 6:00PM

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The above assessment is patently false in just about every respect.

First, one only has to look as far as Film Freeway's festival listings to see that it is heavily populated by well-established and well-known events, including Raindance (12 years), Global Visions (30 years), Cinema Society, San Diego (30 years), and hundreds more.

Second, there's no way that a festival submission platform can screen out every fly-by-night event, and I can tell you from personal experience that WAB has plenty of questionable festivals among their listings. In fact, a lot of 'fake' festivals purposely list on WAB because it can make them seem more legitimate. Film Freeway does have safeguards in place, including the ability to sort their festival listings so that you can screen out web-only festivals. You can also set their listings to only show festivals that have been around for a certain number of years.

Third, while it's true that you won't find Sundance, Telluride or Tribeca among the festivals represented on Film Freeway, you won't find them on WAB either. The largest festivals don't use typically use third-party submission platforms.

Having more than ten years of experience on the festival circuit, and having used Film Freeway extensively last season, I can tell you that it is most definitely not a scam. I've spoken with the founder and some of the developers on several occasions, and they are great folks - friendly and most sincere in their mission.

December 16, 2014 at 5:20PM

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The above assessment is patently false in just about every respect.

First, one only has to look as far as Film Freeway's festival listings to see that it is heavily populated by well-established and well-known events, including Raindance (12 years), Global Visions (30 years), Cinema Society, San Diego (30 years), and hundreds more.

Second, there's no way that a festival submission platform can screen out every fly-by-night event, and I can tell you from personal experience that WAB has plenty of questionable festivals among their listings. In fact, a lot of 'fake' festivals purposely list on WAB because it can make them seem more legitimate. Film Freeway does have safeguards in place, including the ability to sort their festival listings so that you can screen out web-only festivals. You can also set their listings to only show festivals that have been around for a certain number of years.

Third, while it's true that you won't find Sundance, Telluride or Tribeca among the festivals represented on Film Freeway, you won't find them on WAB either. The largest festivals don't use typically use third-party submission platforms.

Having more than ten years of experience on the festival circuit, and having used Film Freeway extensively last season, I can tell you that it is most definitely not a scam. I've spoken with the founder and some of the developers on several occasions, and they are great folks - friendly and most sincere in their mission.

December 16, 2014 at 5:20PM

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