Withoutabox Shut Down Operations October 30, 2019

By Mikel Fair
Withoutabox is shutting down? Yes, they have released a notice that they will be discontinuing their submissions service in October of 2019.  The exact notice reads as follows:
"After more than 10 years operating the Withoutabox film festival submission service, we have decided to phase out the service over the next year. We are working with current film festival customers to fulfill Withoutabox’s commitments through October 30, 2019 and are working with filmmakers to ensure their submissions are properly processed during this transition. We are grateful to all the filmmakers who have shared their stories through Withoutabox and the film festivals who have discovered talented artists around the world using our service. Additional details can be found on our help pages."

Film Festivla Submitter's Handbook ebook and AudioBook

Withoutabox Is Going Out Of Business?

It's hard to believe it, but it's true. We started using Withoutabox back in 2008 for the Houston Comedy Film Festival. I remember back then, that we had to pay a setup fee, a deposit and a higher commission on our submissions and we were forced to buy a mandatory marketing package. It was a significant investment at the time. We held a fun event and received really outstanding submissions through Withoutabox. At the time,  they dominated the Film Festival Submission business. Over the years, more competitors popped up and Withoutabox lowered their commission rates, marketing requirements and eliminated the setup fees. I guess it took a toll on their overall profits and they couldn't make the adjustment.  It's hard to believe that a company owned by Amazon would be having money problems, but I guess they just couldn't make the adjustments necessary to stay competitive in the market.


Did FilmFreeway Destroy Withoutabox?

In many ways, the competition from FilmFreeway had to be hard for Withoutabox to handle, but we are still getting great submissions every day from both portals. Out of our 12 partner film festival events, Withoutabox made up about 25% of our submissions in 2018. Down from 40% in 2017. The Oregon Short Film Festival actually gets about 60% of it's submissions from Withoutabox for some reason. Especially the drama category. The Portland Comedy Film Festival, Houston Comedy Film Festival and Austin Comedy Film Festival get many more submissions on FilmFreeway by far. Part of this, is because of FilmFreeway's Top 100 rating system, which ranks Film Festivals in a way that Withoutabox never did. New filmmakers and screenwriters are always asking the question, "What are the best film festivals in my area?" Or "What are the best comedy film festivals in the world?" The rating system really helps give film festivals like ours, visibility.


Austin Comedy Film Festival Top 100 Ranking


5 Things FilmFreeway Offers That Withoutabox Never Touched

Agility is a key business term, when people talk about a company's ability to adjust to the market. There are 5 key things that FilmFreeway embraced that Withoutabox never offered, and I truly never understood why.

  1. A Festival Rating System - When thousands of festivals exist, it's hard to tell which ones are good and which ones aren't. The rating system helps. Having an opinion from other festivals about your festival can really help eliminate some of the festivals that aren't run as well.
  2. Screenwriter Photos and Presskits - When one of our partner festivals accepts a screenplay or film, we post about each film on social media. Facebook (See the Oregon Scream Week Facebook Page), Twitter and Instagram are useful tools for us and we need pictures to post. As a screenwriter on Withoutabox, there is no way to upload a headshot, poster or artwork to represent a screenplay. We would spend hours, emailing screenwriters for materials on Withoutabox, which is something that is really easy to find on FilmFreeway, which gives all submissions the ability to add a photos free of charge.
  3. Film Festival Photos - On Withoutabox, only a small 105x66 pixel photo was allowed to represent your entire festival! As you can see, by viewing the Oregon Documentary Film Festival FilmFreeway page, they allow banner ads and plenty of photos to help market the festival. The internet is a competitive and visual place. Withoutabox really missed an opportunity here.
  4. Direct Filmmaker Email - FilmFreeway offers a system that allows Film Festivals to send filmmakers direct email. This is really useful for film festivals. Sometimes, we need to send out a few hundred emails to update our filmmakers about a change and when using a 3rd party email service, our delivery rates can be less than 50% sometimes. Communication becomes an issue when a festival trying to make "first contact" with a filmmaker. If you email one by one, your emails start going to the junk folder, which is never a good thing. FilmFreeway solves this problem, because filmmakers have already opted into their system, making it easy for festivals to use the FilmFreeway system to contact filmmakers.
  5. Festivals Offline Until The Event Date Has Passed. - This is a big problem and a massive money loser for Withoutabox in my opinion. I will explain what this means. When a festival notifies filmmakers about their decision on the notification date, Withoutabox would not allow the next season of the festival to be relisted until the event date passed. This would take some of our festivals offline for 45-60 days. FilmFreeway allows you to relist your festival for the new season any time you want. Therefore making it easier for festivals to start accepting new submissions, while simultaneously working on the upcoming event. This means that our partner festivals are only open for submissions for 10-10.5 months on Withoutabox vs 11.5 months on FilmFreeway. If we hold our festival twice per year, the difference is even more staggering. The Austin Comedy Short Film Festival was only open for submissions on Withoutabox last year for about 9 months vs FilmFreeways 11 month listing. Why would Amazon continue this rule, I'm not sure. But whether they realize it or not, it cost them a lot of money in the long run.
Withoutabox RetailMeNot Coupon, FilmFreeway and Festhome Discounts

A Withoutabox 20% RetailMeNot Coupon Code for film and screenplay submissions is available using the same codes as listed above. Sometimes when you go to Retailmenot, some of the Withoutabox savings codes and Withoutabox waiver codes are for different events or expired festivals.  Not currently using Withoutabox? We have other links for submission portals. Now available, you can get a FilmFreeway waiver codes.


Please join us for our next virtual networking meeting co-hosted by Mikel Fair, author of the Film Festival Submitter’s Handbook. If you are interested in attending the OSFF in the future, or to get updates, please join our emailing list.


More Film Festival Submission Tips Articles

  1. Your Submission Contact Details Must Be Accurate. Do you know how many submitter emails bounce and don't have a phone number listed? Read more ...
  2. Choose A Submission Title That Is Memorable. Is your creative work getting lost in the shuffle? Read more ...
  3. Create A Tagline And A Synopsis For Your Submission. Do you know the difference? Read more ...
  4. Create A Director's or Writer's Biography For Your Submission.  Do you think that a Biography and a Job Resume are the same thing? Read more ...
  5. Create A Director’s or Writer’s Statement. This is an opportunity to explain your personal motivation, inspiration, experiences and challenges that lead to the creation of your submission. Read more ...
  6. Create A Poster For Your Submission. Stay ahead of the competition, don't be generic. Read more ...
  7. Create A Trailer For Your Submission. Because video gets more clicks than text. Read more ...
  8. Include A Social Media Link With Your Submission. Social Media is a free marketing tool that Film Festivals use. There are several reasons why you should not ignore this opportunity. Read more ...
  9. Include A Website Link With Your Submission. All roads lead to a central hub for your submission. Read more ...
  10. The Final Cut vs. The Festival Cut. The edit that you send to festivals matters. Do you know the difference? Read more ... 

Withoutabox shuts down


Mikel Fair

Mikel Fair

From 1999-2015 I worked on location in the television and film industry as a location sound mixer, production manager and field producer. I have also worked in post production as an editor, post sound mixer and composer. Today, I am the Director of Film Festival Circuit LLC, a US based company that manages international film festival events in Texas and Oregon. Our team is passionate about showcasing new independent films, videos, series episodes, screenplays and teleplays of all genres.

Are you new to the Film Festival submission process?

Film Festival Circuit events have reviewed over 5,000+ submissions since 2008. Our judges see issues repeated daily that weaken the presentation of films, videos and screenplays during the evaluation process. The Film Festival Submitter’s Handbook was written to help filmmakers and screenwriters build a successful strategy and avoid common costly mistakes when submitting to Film Festivals.

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