Thank you for joining us for the Great Lakes International Shorts Film Festival! We have created this innovative portal for all filmmakers and movie buffs to come together and celebrate the possibilities that technology will continue to allow as the digital film industry grows. Your support and encouragement are essential to the outcome of our festival!
Q: What is the Great Lakes International Shorts Film Festival ?
A: Our Festival is an annual, internationally recognized competition that takes place year round. We focus on the art of independent filmmaking and screening the best works of independent filmmakers, in all genres, from all around the world.
Films are selected from the hundreds of submissions we receive each year and are then presented to the world via a one of a kind virtual theatre system over the course of our multi-day event. Prizes are awarded for best of genre and an Audience Award is also bestowed upon the film with the most audience votes.
Q: May I ask for a fee waiver after submitting my film?
A: No, you may not! Films submitted must be accompanied by a fee payment to be considered. Anyone interested in a fee waiver must submit a request prior to submitting your film.
Simply filling out the entry application and sending us your film, hoping we will validate your film entry without an entry fee, only guarantees you will not be granted a fee waiver. In short, always ask before doing.
Q: Why doesn’t your festival use Withoutabox ?
A: There is no short answer to this question, except to say the WAB sucks!
Our festival does not now, nor will it ever use Withoutabox. Withoutabox is a monopoly that is causing serious harm to the independent film community by using unfair business practices to drive up entry fees and making it harder than ever for film festivals to survive, and filmmakers to get their films into festivals.
In addition to demanding huge and outrageous set up fees of anywhere between $500 – $2,000, they also force festivals to pay to them 18% of the entry fees that they get from the festivals, causing festivals to dramatically raise their prices to make up for this incredibly greedy commission.
They also force festivals to place a link on the festivals’ website as prominently as the festivals’ own Call For Entries link so that they can take submissions from traffic that originates from outside of Withoutabox, and thereby preventing festivals from making any money without Withoutabox.
By the time festivals pay all the mandatory fees and the nearly 20% commission, it is highly likely that Withoutabox will have made more money than the festivals who work tirelessly to promote and foster independent film.
Then, after charging all that money, to even heighten their greed even more, Withoutabox holds the festivals entry fees they receive for up to 45 days so they can earn interest on the fees before paying festivals their share. BTW, they don’t pass that interest on to the festival, they keep it all.
Here’s one of the worst things, if a festival offers a fee waiver to a Filmmaker, Withoutabox still charges the festival the 18% commission of an entry fee that the festival never got paid, and the entry fee is deducted from the fees that Withoutabox collected from other Filmmakers who paid the submission fee to the festival. This makes it almost impossible for a festival to offer fee waivers to Filmmakers.
Withoutabox forces festivals to give mandatory “discounts” to filmmakers that pay Withoutabox membership fees. This causes festivals to raise their entry fees to compensate, which is passed on directly to the filmmakers. They then require filmmakers to pay costly membership fees, and discount package fees directly to Withoutabox in order to have access to these so called “discounts.” When it’s all said and down, the filmmaker saved almost nothing, the festival lost money and had to raise their fees to compensate which gave them less submissions, and Withoutabox cleaned up yet again. How unfair is that to the Filmmakers!!!
There are many other issues and reasons why, too many to list here.
In short, if it’s not already too late for that, we don’t participate with Withoutabox because their treatment of Filmmakers and festivals alike is, to say the least, unfair, and their business practices are at the root of everything that is wrong with the Filmmaker/Festival relationship, and they are destroying the Independent Film Industry one entry at a time.
Q. If I withdraw my film from your festival, will you refund my entry fee?
A. Please be advised that as with most festivals, ours does not refund submission fees because a Filmmaker for unknown reasons decides to withdraw his/her film from the festival, so the answer to that question is, no, we will not refund the cost of your submission fee.
Q. Does everyone selected in the festival get personalized emails for everything going on in the festival, and for filmmaker updates?
A. We have more than 100 films in our festival each year, with between 2-5 people to contact for each film every time we have an update, therefore, it would take an entire day to send one update email if we contact each person individually with a personalized email.
As far as I know, there is no festival that does that. Simply put, if we sent personalized emails to every single filmmaker involved in each film that we have in the Festival, we would spend all of our time writing emails, and have no time to actually produce the festival.
I’m sorry that you feel that you have been slighted in this way, but realistically, to send personalized emails to everyone is not feasible.
Q: Are you accepting screenplay submissions?
A: NO. Our festival only accepts films!
Q: When will your official film selections be announced?
A: All film selections for our festival will be announced as they are selected.
Q: Who is eligible to submit a film?
A: Any filmmaker who is of at least 18 years of age and has a desire to share his/her work with the world can submit. Submissions of filmmakers under the age of 18 are accepted when accompanied by an entry form approved and signed by a responsible adult parent or guardian of the under 18 submitter.
Q: Do we offer fee waivers?
A: Yes, but all fee waivers are considered on both a first come-first serve basis, and on the level of need. Each year only 100 fee waivers can be approved, so it is best to get your request in early.
Q: I have never participated in an online fest before, are the films safe and how does the online part work?
A: The films in the online portion of our festival are essentially as private as any screening would be in a standard brick and mortar screening. As with a screening in an actual physical theatre, all screenings are open to the public, but each online attendee will need to purchase an online ticket through our virtual theatre in order to screen yours, or any film participating in the festival.
The security of the actual films are of the highest level, and the films cannot be reproduced, or in any way copied or taken from our virtual theatre and distributed or streamed on any other site. For all intents and purposes, the online portion of our festival is basically considered the same as that of an actual physical theatre screening, and just as safe as well.
We have gone to great time and expense to ensure the highest level of safety and security for each and every Filmmaker’s film, always keeping the Filmmaker’s best interests as our first and highest priority.
Q: How long will my film stay online?
A: Please keep in mind that we would never keep a film available for screening after the festival has closed against the wishes of the Filmmaker, nor would we ever even think of doing anything that a Filmmaker would not be happy with.
With that in mind, of course your film will remain available for screening until the festival closes. After the final date of the festival, you can simply send us a quick email asking to remove your film from screening availability, and we will remove it from availability immediately. In many cases, we leave the film available for screening after the festival has closed because for many films this offers the film more exposure than it would receive otherwise, and the Filmmakers appreciate that.
Q: Why do we only screen films in a virtual theatre?
A: Simply put, the virtual theatre is the future of film festivals. More and more festivals are now screening films online these days, and even the big festivals such as the Sundance Film Festival and the Tribeca Film Festival are moving to online screenings. Festivals are moving to the online platform because of many reasons, including that it allows for so much more exposure for the films. It is expected that, just like the extinction of the 35mm projectors that were replaced with digital, one day in the not too distant future all film festivals will screen almost exclusively online, with only few live presentations, if any.
Q: Does a filmmaker, and his/her family and friends have to pay for a virtual ticket to watch his/her own film in the festival?
A: Unfortunately YES. The payment system that we are currently using does not allow us to extend free passes or tickets. It is not really an unusual thing, for example, if your film were screening in a brick and mortar theatre, the festival would charge an admission fee or ticket price of much more that would be expected to be paid by all who attended, including the friends and family members of each and any filmmaker.
The only difference here is that the people who you might invite will save all the time and travel costs, and will pay a much lower admission ticket price while still having the opportunity to support your film.
Q: If I screen my film in this virtual theatre, can just anybody see my film?
A: No! The actual virtual screening room where your film appears is completely secure. This is because, the link continuously changes for security reasons. The only way to get a current link is to go through the online checkout of our virtual theatre. After you have watched the film and you leave the page, that link will disappear and no longer be valid should you try to go back to it. This is a security feature of our screening and payment platform to avoid those who would attempt to violate both our Terms Of Site Use agreement, and the security of each filmmaker’s work.
Unlike other festivals streaming films online, films in this festival cannot be downloaded, the films HAVE NO EMBEDDING CODE and our HTML code if copied and pasted, the films will not play, therefore they CANNOT be placed on other websites. The only time and place they can be viewed is in our festival. In short, we have gone to great lengths to set this system up to protect the safety and security of each filmmaker’s film, always keeping the filmmaker in mind. Basically, it is just as secure as a brick and mortar theater screening, only much better.
The only difference to a brick and mortar screening here is that both the filmmaker and the people who the filmmaker might invite will save all the time and travel costs, and will pay a much lower admission ticket price, while still having the opportunity to support the film.
Q: Do you have special admission prices for kids or Seniors?
A: NO. Because the ticket price of $1.99 USD is so low, there really isn’t much room for discounts.
Q: Are there any age restrictions for admission into the Festival?
A: There are no age restrictions for admission into the Festival, or any of the film screenings, although we do want to strongly advise Parents of younger children to be strongly cautioned to use common sense and remember that the majority of our films would probably rate a PG-13 or R rating.
Q: Is your event wheelchair accessible?
A: Yes! Since the event is done exclusively online, anyone who can use a computer or mobile device can have access to the films.
Q: How do I view the films on your website?
A: To view a film, simply click on the title or the thumbnail of the film you wish to view. The film list also displays the length of each film, along with your vote, once it has been cast. The “Voting Statistics” area near the top right of the list page displays your current vote count and averages.
Q: What are the requirements to view the films on your website?
A: System Requirements
Internet Connection: To view the Great Lakes International Shorts Film Festival films effectively, you must have a broadband (high speed) internet connection with a download speed of at least 500 Kb/second or faster. Dial-up connections simply do not have enough speed to be able to deliver the video content at a fast enough rate to provide efficient presentation of the film content.
Flash Player: To view and vote on the films, you must also have the Macromedia Flash Player/Plug-in with a minimum version of 7.0 installed in your Web browser software. If you are having trouble viewing the films, it is strongly suggested that you upgrade or install the latest version of the Flash plug-in to your Web browser software. To do this, please CLICK HERE and follow the instructions provided.
Sound/Audio Support: To be able to hear the audio tracks within the films, your computer must be equipped with audio hardware and appropriate speakers and/or headphones.
IMPORTANT NOTE (Please Read): If, after assuring your system and internet connection meets the above requirements, you are still having trouble viewing and/or voting on the films, please click here to submit our online contact form. When submitting the form, please include the name and version number for the Computer Operating System (Windows, OS X, Linux, etc.) and Web Browser software (Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari, etc.) you are using to view the films.
Other Questions will be posted as they come in. We hope this page was helpful to you, and that most if not all of your questions were answered. If you have a question that was not answered here, please feel free to contact us at any time.