When does the festival take place?
WILLiFEST 2018 dates will be announced in early 2018. The festival is held every September in New York City. Dates and locations are subject to change so please check the website regularly.
What are the categories of projects you accept in this year's festival?
You must select from one of six film submission categories listed below. Additionally, there are screenplay, commercial, soundtrack, tv/web episode and trailer competitions.
NARRATIVE FEATURE FILMS
Any narrative work of fiction with a running time of at least 50 minutes. In order to qualify as a Narrative Feature Film, the submitted project must be either scripted or improvisational fiction. Projects may originate from anywhere in the world. No premiere status is required. Films must have been completed after January 2013.
DOCUMENTARY FEATURE FILMS
Any non-fiction film with a running time of at least 50 minutes, NOT including entirely scripted or improvised fictionalizations of actual events. If your documentary contains limited dramatization of actual events, you may submit in this category, but we will ultimately decide which program is best suited for your project, if accepted. Projects may originate from anywhere in the world. No premiere status is required. Films must have been completed after January 2013.
NARRATIVE SHORT FILMS
Any narrative film of U.S. or International origin with a running time of 49 minutes or less. This category includes student films. No premiere status is required. Films must have been completed after January 2013.
DOCUMENTARY SHORT FILMS
Any documentary film of U.S. or International origin with a running time of 49 minutes or less. This category includes student films. No premiere status is required. Films must have been completed after January 2013.
Any animated film in any style of animation from any country of origin with a running time of any length. No premiere status is required. Films must have been completed after January 2013.
Any film or video in sync to music from any country of origin with a running time of less than 10 minutes. Music Videos have no premiere or completion requirements.
Any English-language, narrative screenplay, stage play or teleplay of any genre. Scripts must have a minimum page count of 10 pages and a maximum page count of 200. Screenplays have no completion requirements. Digital files are currently the only acceptable form of submission. For additional information and detailed submission guidelines, see answers to questions regarding the Screenplay Competition below.
Any film or video that sells a product or service from any country of origin with a running time of less than 7 minutes. This category also includes Public Service Announcements (PSA) which promotes public awareness. Commercials have no premiere or completion requirements.
A film or video music soundtrack from any category of film or video. Sample selection(s) should be less than 20 minutes. There is no completion requirement.
TV/WEB EPISODE COMPETITION
Any episodic television or web program from any country of origin with a running time of 60 minutes or less. The episode may already have been uploaded to a website like Vimeo or Youtube and may be publicly shared. TV/Web episodes have no premiere or completion requirements.
FILM/TV/WEB TRAILER COMPETITION
Any trailer that promotes a film, television show or web series from any country of origin with a running time of 4 minutes or less. The trailer may already have been uploaded to a website like Vimeo or Youtube and may be publicly shared. Trailers have no premiere or completion requirements.
How do you distinguish short films from features films?
If the film is up to 49 minutes in length, it is a Short. If the film is 50 minutes or longer, it is considered a Feature, regardless of category.
Is it true that WILLiFEST will not screen my film if it has screened elsewhere?
WILLiFEST does NOT have a Premiere status requirement.
Can I submit my film as a rough cut?
A film needs to be complete enough for us to be able to make a decision. If you expect that your final version will be thirty minutes long, it’s probably not a good idea to send us a two hour rough cut. If an important scene is going to be missing, you should have notes on your account that should make the screener aware of this.
How old can my film be and still qualify for submission?
Categories have different completion dates so please refer to our Withoutabox or FilmFreeway pages for details. If your film’s production took place more than four years ago but your final cut was completed within the last four years, your film is still eligible. Some categories are completely exempt from this rule so please check Withoutabox and FilmFreeway for updated exceptions.
Do I have to obtain rights clearance for music or other copyrighted material in my film?
From a legal standpoint, you must clear all copyrighted material included in your film before you can publicly screen it. WILLiFEST will not be held responsible for any inclusion of uncleared materials in your film. It is the sole responsibility of the individual submitting the project to secure permission from the copyright holder of the material in question, whether it is music, stock footage, or any other elements that could violate an existing copyright. Quite often, rights holders offer reduced rates for festival films, so you should contact them directly to avoid any possible rights infringements.
Can I submit my film with a temporary music track?
Temp tracks, scratch music, and temp scores are perfectly fine for your submission, but please make note of missing or temporary elements.
What is your preferred format for submission?
Films can be submitted through Withoutabox’ Secure Online Screener system or FilmFreeway’s online screener system. WE NO LONGER ACCEPT DVD SUBMISSIONS OR ANY PHYSICAL MEDIA. If you have any questions please feel free to email us at [email protected]
Do you accept BluRay screeners?
We currently DO NOT accept Bluray screeners or any other physical media for submissions.
Will you accept submissions on any videotape format?
We do NOT accept submissions on any videotape format, nor any physical media. All tapes or discs we receive will be recycled.
If my film includes non-English dialogue, do you require English subtitles?
Yes! We will be unable to screen your film if on-screen English subtitles are not included in your online submission.
How do I submit my project to one of the competitions?
During the Call for Entries period, you submit your project through either Withoutabox (www.withoutabox.com) or FilmFreeway (www.filmfreeway.com).
How many films may I submit?
You may submit as many films as you’d like, but each film must be a separate entry and requires a separate fee for each entry. The submission portals do not offer reduced fees for multiple submissions. If you submit three films, you must pay the submission fees for all three films.
What if my contact information or any other info changes?
You may log into your account at Withoutabox or FilmFreeway at any time to update or revise your submission details at anytime.
When will I find out if my film was selected?
We will contact you via e-mail sometime in late July or August. Please make sure that the e-mail address in your submission details will be operational at that time. If your e-mail address changes, you should update it as soon as possible.
Does the festival project film, tape or digital?
WILLiFEST utilizes the latest HD digital projection technology. We project from an HD file-based server. We no longer project from any videotape format or film. Most accepted films are requested to send a 1080p (1920×1080) 16:9 progressive high definition file version of the film in an .mp4 or .mov format. If you have questions concerning the exhibition format, feel free to contact us at [email protected]
If I submit but change my mind, can I get a refund of the submission fee?
Sorry, but the submission fee is non-refundable.
Do you offer submission fee waivers?
Short answer: No.
Long answer: Submission fees go toward offsetting a portion of the costs associated with promoting our festival on Withoutabox, FilmFreeway, print ads, and local events. These expenses always end up being subsidized by us. The extremely high cost of organizing and hosting the actual festival in September is borne by sponsors and us. We keep both our submission fees and festival ticket prices as low as possible in order to make entry and attendance as accessible as possible. We receive many requests for waivers from filmmakers during our Call for Entries and after discussing the issue at length, we have decided that in all fairness we cannot pick and choose which films to grant waivers to. Therefore, we ask that you consider submitting your film early to take advantage of our Early Bird deadline discount, Withoutabox members receive a discount and as an added incentive, we offer a student filmmaker discount, which applies to every category.
If my film is not chosen, may I speak with a programmer for notes or feedback?
We receive hundreds of submissions so, unfortunately, we cannot.
Is there a screenplay competition at the festival?
Yes! There is a separate screenplay competition. We also accept stage plays, teleplays and now web series. During the Call for Entries period, you can apply through the www.withoutabox.com or www.filmfreeway.com online submission platforms. We select three top winners plus award honorable mention to five more deserving screenplays and feature all of them on the Awards page of our website. All winners are invited to attend the festival as our guests for great networking opportunities with filmmakers.
What types of films or screenplays are you looking for?
First, our Categories list in Question 1 gives a general description of what we are accepting for this year’s festival. Beyond that, we celebrate the independent filmmaker and are seeking interesting and original stories. Basically, we are looking for films with interesting characters and unique points of view. The same could be said for screenplays and other written projects. However, we further examine the writing style and use of language. TIP: Make sure that no matter what kind of script you submit (screenplay, stage play, teleplay), the format is industry standard and you check your punctuation.
How do I submit a screenplay?
During the Call for Entries period, you can submit your script using the www.withoutabox.com or www.filmfreeway.com online submission platforms. Your electronic script will have been uploaded to Withoutabox’ or FilmFreeway’s online servers. Accepted digital formats are Word (.doc, .docx), Final Draft (.fdr, .fdx) or Adobe (.pdf) documents.
What other competitions do you offer?
Can I mail in submission, exhibition or marketing materials?
Since we have gone paperless and green, we are no longer accepting any paper marketing materials (posters, postcards). Submissions will only be accepted online through Withoutabox or FilmFreeway. Exhibition copies are HD files sent to us through any file transfer platform such as WeTransfer or Dropbox.