Can I charge screening fees for my Short?
We have been taking care of the festival distribution of several famous shorts in the past years, among them films that premiered at well-known festivals, or have been nominated for prestigious awards like the Oscars or the BAFTA awards. We got approached by many festivals and institutions for special out-of-competition screenings of these films. In this article we share some insights about the do’s and don’ts of charging screening fees.
Who owns the rights of your short?
First of all: screening fees can only be charged by the right owner of the film. If your short e.g. is a student film and the school owns the rights or part of the rights, you have to discuss the screening fees, and your share. If you are in the lucky position to have a sales or distribution company for your short, you should clarify who is charging for screening fees at festivals.
Accepted at a festival: In- or out-of-competition?
Most of the festivals don’t pay screening fees for shorts in competition, as there is a chance for the films to receive awards, which might come with a money prize. For curated out-of-competition programs many festivals have a small budget for screening fees. Some festivals run short film programs, satellite events or best of tours. Your film might be invited to participate. In the rules and regulations certain festivals define that you agree to participate in out-of-competition screenings or tours, without charging screening fees. Even if there is no such regulation in the terms, most festivals don’t mention screening fees when approaching the filmmakers to give consent to the screening. So it’s good to first check the regulations, and then politely ask.
Should I agree to out-of-competition screenings without receiving a fee?
There are occassions for out-of-competition screenings, where we agree to show the film without charging a fee. If the festival is quite famous and you can use it for marketing your film, do it. If the occassion and the audience is perfect for your film and you can transport your films message, do it. If the screening is at special locations, as example for some scientists at an Antarctic research station, why not, it will be an amazing social media post.
How much shall I charge?
We consider factors like:
- How long is the film? Screening fees can be a bit higher for 30 to 40 minute films than for films up to 15 minutes.
- How many screenings are planned?
- How big is the venue and the audience?
We start negotiations at around 50$ - 150$ per screening.
What else is there to know?
Normally you will have to write an invoice for the charged screening fees. We prepared a form you can use for your film. If there is time, send the invoice first, and the files later. But we found all the involved parties very trustworthy, and hardly had problems to receive the amount we once agreed on even if we have sent the files first. Send the deliverables in the formats as requested by the festival.
Screening Fees at other events
There are other screening occasions besides festivals, for which you might get approached to screen your film. Art institutions, schools or other educational institutes, embassies, etc. You can basically apply the same guidelines as the ones mentioned above. Fees can be slightly higher.
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