Film Festival Costs Got You Down? Find the Free Ones on the 'No Entry Fee Festivals' Blog

If you've ever entered a film into a festival, whether it was a short, documentary, or feature, you've probably had to pony up some decent cash just to be considered -- and that doesn't include the additional costs once you're accepted. What about festivals without entry fees? Do those even exist? The answer, as you probably guessed based on the title of the post, is yes, and you can find plenty of them over at No Entry Fee Festivals, a site that focuses specifically on the free ones. Click through to learn more about it.

Thanks to Scott Macaulay from Filmmaker Magazine for tweeting about the site:

Here is the creator, Tracy Miller-Robbins, who is an artist and animator, speaking about the site:

I started a list of festivals with no entry fee several years ago as a resource for media artists, particularly my students. At the start, I found a couple of articles listing festivals without entry fees. These articles were a helpful starting point, but as I looked, I found many more festivals out there.

Over the past two years, I have continued to add to my no entry fee list of festivals, competitions and other exhibition opportunities. Recently I have evolved this list into a blog for animators, video artists and digital filmmakers, whether they are students, amateurs or professionals, who are looking for opportunities to screen their work.

Many of the festivals are international. A word of caution: these are not for procrastinators. While it can be inexpensive to send a dvd or cd in advance, it can be incredibly expensive to send it overnight. (As an example, the cost to mail a dvd overseas from the US can range from 1.40 if mailed well in advance, (regular post) to 100.00+ to overnight at the last minute.) Some festivals have an online submission option. Some festivals that charge to submit online have free submission for students, but need to be mailed.  Some online submissions still require that a dvd is sent after the online application).

While Sundance obviously isn't going to be on the list of free festivals, if you're a DIY or no budget filmmaker, trying to get exposure at film festivals can be very costly, especially when there is no guarantee you'll get into any of them. Some may question the necessity of such festivals when the internet can reach many more people, but they are still excellent places for networking, and if they happen to be local, you might just have a good time watching and talking about films with your peers.

Head on over to No Entry Fee Festivals to see which fests might be right for your films.

Link: No Entry Fee Festivals

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Your Comment


Joe Thanks this is good to know!

February 20, 2013 at 3:07AM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM


Great idea. We're a bit biased towards the no fee approach for filmmakers as we don't charge for our festival. But considering the filmmakers are providing the content for the festival it seems like a fair approach.

I think online has become a great place for exposure, but I don't think it will ever match the experience of having your film screened at a festival on a large screen in front of an audience.

February 20, 2013 at 3:41AM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM



February 20, 2013 at 4:14AM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM


I've found that North American festivals usually have fees (sometimes quite high), while the majority of festivals in the rest of the world are free. This is based on using Withoutabox (mainly North American) and ShortFilmDepot (mainly rest of world). Having said that, I have had films accepted by festivals I paid a fee to submit to, but never had a film accepted by a "free" festival.

February 20, 2013 at 9:05AM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM


I just stumbled on to this festival resource for filmmakers:

(I have no affiliation with them.)

February 21, 2013 at 5:08AM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM


A great resource and something I will direct filmmakers to in future from our home network base in London England.

We have charged entry fees since we started Raindance in 1993 - for the simple reason we couldnt possibly afford to watch all the submissions and survive. Speaking to the hundreds of filmmakers over the years we meet here in London England, many chose the no fee festivals a little later in the cycle of their film festival life for the simple reason, and no ofense intended, in life (and especially in film festival life) you tend to get what you pay for.

Filmmakers need to decide what they are looking for. In my experience, it almost always is exposure. But exposure to whom? If its merely a room full of strngers to admire and papreciate your work - atend the no fee festivals If however the exposure you crave is to industry, then typically you will need to budget for submission fees. LAst year, 41 of the 101 films we screened got a distribution deal as a direct result of their Raindance screening.

February 21, 2013 at 1:54PM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM


I agree to a point, but theres plenty of festivals that charge and don't offer the exposure of larger festivals such as Raindance. I think if you are having to pay for entry, do your research and see if the benefits outweighs the costs of submitting.

February 21, 2013 at 2:26PM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM


Thanks for the info very cool.

February 21, 2013 at 3:20PM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM

Gary Simmons

Thanks so much for the great article! I hope more filmmakers visit my site! Great discussion- mainly I try to provide options. Many festivals offer awards and some opportunities pay a fee to selected artists. One can also use the site to learn about new work and see work that you may not be able to travel to see.

Best of luck to all of you- we are all in this together!

February 22, 2013 at 10:18AM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM


how can iu submit my film to the festival

November 28, 2013 at 10:31AM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM

randy jones


I tried to submit to your film festival, but the requirements for length submissions appear to not allow some movies to be submitted. We would love to submit our film short - which is 29 minutes including opening and ending credits. However, your requirements state that shorts can have a maximum of 25 minutes, and feature lengths must have a minimum of 40 minutes. That appears to leave out any opportunities for films that are 30 minutes. Any chance this requirement can be reviewed? Thanks! :)

March 9, 2014 at 11:08AM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM


Agree with both of you!

If you want industry exposure, and you have an AMAZING film on your hands - then go to the major film fests as there are only about 25 in the world per year anyways.

And don't bother paying to enter the other film fests outside these top 25 as NO industry players will be there! So you're just paying money, and wasting your time showing to the general public who can't advance your career.

But if all you want is a bio-line that reads that your films were accepted or won at a film fest, and you know it can't compete with the top films at the top 25 film fests - than choose a NO FEE festival - cos all you want is just "credit" really. In this case -- Don't bother paying to enter festivals outside these 25 is what i'm saying...........

August 15, 2014 at 2:59AM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM