Submissions are due by the end of the week, August 30, for the first Wizard World Film Festival, held at the Wizard World Ohio Comic Con September 20-22 and continuing to Wizard World Nashville Comic Con (October 18-20) and Wizard World Austin Comic Con (November 22-24).
Submissions can win awards, and the “top entries” in all categories (feature-length films, shorts, student shorts, documentaries, animation, experimental, and music videos) will be shown in programming rooms during the cons. If you’re looking for exposure or to see audience reactions, this might be a good opportunity.
However, I’m cynical. I see this as a cheap way for Wizard to fill its programming slate at no cost. In fact, they will likely make money from this, since it costs from $20-100 per film to enter the festival. Their programming decisions will be aided by screeners, which they’re also accepting entries for, but with no mention of actually paying these folks. (Must be at least 19 years old; film professional, critic, or student (so, anyone); and be able to watch 20-30 hours of film in a month.) There are no specifics I could find on subject matter, either.
Those chosen to have films screened will be notified less than two weeks before the event, which makes travel costs at that point expensive. Wizard will be awarding at each convention “over $3,000 in prizes”. (I note they don’t specify cash.) It’s also kind of weird that a “film festival” is actually a rolling display service, without a single location.
Why am I so suspicious? Because Wizard World runs at a loss. From April-June 2013, their net operations loss was almost $300,000 ($293,666, to be specific). However, when your average event revenue over those three months is $1,450,708, you just need a little bit more income to go positive. Or to stop holding events in NYC, since the company attributed, in their quarterly earnings press release, the loss to “an unprofitable New York City event during 2013…. First year events are often unprofitable as the company spends significantly more to build attendance through advertising and higher venue cost. Historically, our shows that have one year or more of operating history become profitable within the first few years.”