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?