IMDB vs. the Independent Film

As most of us know, IMDB is the leading source of finding professional films in this country. If you're not on IMDB, your film isn't considered professional. People look at it as a fun little project you did with no clout in the filmmaking community. But here's my question: What is considered professional?

From my own experiences with IMDB, a professional production is not one that has been showcased in a film festival or won an award. It is not based on the quality of the final film, or the acting, writing, directing, sound... you get the picture. It doesn't matter if you have the biggest star in the world or have a never ending resume.

No, IMDB judges professional based on two things: the amount of money you spent and how many people worked on your film.

Now, I may be the only person who sees a problem with this judgment. But in my personal experience, I have seen films that have large crews that have spent thousands or millions of dollars... that aren't any good. I have also seen films that are amazing that employ a small crew and knew how to budget. But according to IMDB, the larger film is more worthy of their attention.

I have done research into the IMDB process by trying to submit our first film, "Master of Destiny", into their system. IMDB does recognize The Place Called Sacramento Film Festival as a legitimate festival and in fact, there are numerous Place Called Sacramento Films listed on IMDB. But our film can not get reviewed. After 3 submissions, I gave up.

See, what IMDB does is they review the largest films first, then go down the list that way. So what would happen is that our film would be put last on the list every time I submitted it. And every time, I would read their updates and they would mention that all submitted films were reviewed except for one -- which I knew was ours. Every single time. We made the film for $250 and had a crew of about 6. Which means our film is not "professional" enough to qualify for IMDB. But there are films that spent a lot more money and had large crews that showed with ours last year that are listed. Even winning the "Producer's Choice Award" at the festival didn't put us up on the list.

I'm not saying our film deserves to be on IMDB any more than anyone else's. I just find it interesting that all these independent film companies (IMDB, the MPAA) claim they do not favor studio productions over independent ones. But I think their policy speaks of the opposite. I believe that filmmakers who are able to strategize and budget their spending should be given equal footing with those who spend freely. A quality production should not be based on dollar signs or large crews, but by the end product and the ingenuity of the filmmakers. Since when is being resourceful considered wrong? Apparently in the film business, until we can make a change.
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  • In other words, it isn't about the budget or crew size...
  • The criteria I've come to know is Worldwide distribution and/or Film Festival showing. The festival bit is a bit iffy. They do consider some festivals as not worthy. But if your movie is in worldwide distribution, they have to accept in IMDB.

    Other than that, there are certain criteria that needs to be satisfied before they will look at the submission. This denial is not saying they won't post your movie, they just need verification of distribution and/or festival viewing. (still the festival bit is fuzzy). I have been a part of two movie produced in the Sac area and they are both up on IMDB for festival participation (i.e. Sacramento Horror Fest and the 10x10 Challenge), so I don't see why The Place Called Sacramento fest wouldn't be acceptable. Maybe you forgot to cross some T's and dot some I's??

  • Well, if the film fest has to be "recognized" by IMDb, then how does a fest even go about applying for that?  My films have won awards in many fests, and honestly, the fests that seems like they SHOULD be "recognized" are not, and vice versa.  Seems like there should be some sort of official application with legitimate criteria that IMDb would have to adhere to.

  • Don't think they did Charles. Their criteria is an official selection acceptance in a film festival that is "recognized" by them. So I couldn't start a local yokle film festival just to get my movies in...They have to approve the festival. Even having said that, I probably have over ten movies that I haven't even bothered to submit that may, in fact, be accepted. I'm not looking for a job in LA, so it would just be an ego thing.
  • What a minute! I saw someone below write that Sac 48 Hour movies are excepted into IMDB??? I tried that with ours and they wouldn't accept a 48 Hour type of movie. Did they change their mind's again???
  • I had a similar experience and attitude trying to submit my first movie. The festival mine was in was deemed "unworthy" by IMdB.. However, they eventually included my movie because it had international distribution... via IMdB is actually a part of Amazon, such as CreateSpace is. My movie is manufactured onto video by CreateSpace and distributed on Amazon, thus the international distribution. They had to cave-in at some point. :)
  • Jason... It's time to get back on your medication for your schizophrenia.
  • Julie... If your movie was an "Official Selection" in A Place Called Sacramento" then it should be eligible for IMDb placement. Don't forget IMDb is a BUSINESS owned by Amazona. It's not some some arts council, etc. That's why they don't care about how good a movie is or is not. They let the film festivals do that work for them.
    BTW, "Beatrice" cost me a whopping $250... mostly for cast & crew food.
    BTW, Most of the time "Beatrice" had a crew of one... ME...
    So get off your judgements that just because I'm a "pro" automatically means I had a huge budget and a huge crew... You are wrong on both counts.
    And my intent was not to lecture you, but I found your lament simply to be naive in how the LA movie biz works.
    BTW... I couldn't care less if you respect my work or not. It's the people who write me a check for my work are the one's whose opinions I respect.
  • I just saw this blog of yours Julie and I think that there are a lot of films on IMDB that don't belong there. I haven't seen Master of Destiny, but if the Sacramento 48 Hour Film Fest movies can be put up, why not a film like yours. I understand that a lot of IMDB is based on who's who, but how do they expect film makers who may be starting off small (small budget, small cast, etc.) to get their names out there and finally become recognized? I have to wonder, if you were to pay for IMDB and they didn't allow you to put up your film, why pay if you can show your stuff?
  • Frank, I think you give great hope to the film community of Sacramento. If you can do it, anyone can do it! For any festivals to pick up "Beatrice and the Bike Thief" or "11 Bravo Diaries" is a miracle in itself. WAVE awards? WOW! What an accomplishment for Community Access Television. You must be proud! You see, nobody takes your films seriously. You whined and complained because you didn't win any awards at PCS last year, but it was with good reason. You complained about the judges at PCS not being competent, and I can agree with you on that point. A Place Called Sacramento, in my eyes, is a complete and blatant joke! Best Screenplay: Play Day? LMAO! Seriously? You should be happy that "11 Bravo Diaries" won best ensemble acting. That was a pity award from the judges just like "Play Day" was. Take what you can get. The acting in "11 B Diaries" was tragic. Anyone with any good sense can see that. I will only comment on "Beatrice and the Bike Thief minimally. The late 80's sitcom score, the cinematography, the editing, reminded me of a high school beginners course in television. The last time I shut you up and you called me a Jerk, you said I lit a fire up under your ass to make a feature. Well here we are almost a year later and you have done nothing but promote "Beatrice and the Bike Thief". Now you're going to make an extended version of "11 Bravo Diaries"? I offer you this challenge Frank. I made 3 films this summer and one of them was an Iraq war film. It is still in post production and will be finished by the end of the year. We will show them side by side, that is if you ever really finish yours, and we will let the people decide which is better. I am an amateur and you are a professional. You should have no problem humiliating me and showing me what a professional does to amateurs, unlike what we did to you at last years PCS. We were nobodies Frank. We're nobodies now. So I offer you this challenge. Let's see where we stand against a professional like you, Frank. I would also like to personally invite you to our 30 minute short film on Saturday Nov. 13th at 5:30 in Folsom. I want you to see how real acting happens on a set and how a real film looks like. You will be my personal guest. The bad acting in both "Beatrice" and "11 Bravo" falls on the Director's shoulders. I'm not blaming you Frank, I'm blaming the Director who said that those takes were good. I hope you accept both of my invitations. I look forward to you accepting them and not being a coward and dodging my invitations. Hope all is well with you.

    Jason Borroel
    Borroel Entertainment
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