Phil Peel

Film, video, photography, sound and story

I don’t know whether you’ve ever have to submit a film to a festival.   Note I said “had to”

I automatically wrote this as a chore – something  necessary – but onerous.   …and that is because until recently you’ve had to use “Withoutabox“.  A website which is a complete pain to use.

Initially the concept seemed wonderful.  Before 2000,  when WAB  was set up, Film Festival applications all had to be done individually – by post.

So very few of the films I made ever got sent to many festivals, as it was just so time consuming sending off VHSs.  Remember those ?  I even bought a very  expensive multistandard PAL/NTSC VHS recorder simply so I could enter US festivals.

Then Withoutabox came along. The first website to allow filmmakers to upload their details and apply to multiple film festivals all from the same place.

Then it was bought apparently for $3million by IMDB, which had also been bought by Amazon.

btw IMDB was originally a voluntary run film buff listing.

This was pre World Wide Web. When the internet was text only. I remember in the 1990s downloading the entire IMDB lisiting from a USENET group called “rec.arts.movies”overnight onto floppy discs.

Later it was run on Cardiff University’s computer in South Wales.

Anyway I digress.  Though initially a great improvement, the Withoutabox system seems to have had no development for many years. Having to use it, is now unnecessarily difficult, time consuming and complicated.  For example : I’ve had a problem with my login address. I’ve filled in their support service. Two weeks later – still no response. This is a service I’m paying for. Not a free site.

The festivals were also unhappy as Withoutabox charged them thousands to use the service. Even more if festival entry was free to filmmakers.

But until recently it was the only way. Why?

Believe it or not Amazon had managed to patent the concept of using the internet to  apply for festivals!

” In 2001 Withoutabox had been  granted the monopoly on using the internet to administer film festival submissions”     …and Amazon have many lawyers, who defended their monopoly.”

But things are changing. More and more festivals are now using FilmFreeway or Reelport amongst others.

Stephen Follows wrote about Withoutabox’s patent  on his fascinating blog  back in 2013, but I’ve only just come across it.  So I thought I would share it for you.

Here’s the Link..

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