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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  • Yeah.. think you're missing the point, Frank, and being incredibly insulting. A Place Called Sacramento is a RECOGNIZED film festival in IMDB.. in fact, both of your films "Beatrice and the Bike Thief" and "11B Diaries" are both featured. Two films that showed with our film at the same festival, same year. So don't talk about fair with me and use this as a way to brag. That's the difference and me. I'm merely raising a point and experience I found interesting. Just because you spent lots of money on yours and had a huge crew does not mean your film is more professional than ours. So next time you wanna lecture, do it to someone who respects your work.
  • Well Julie... I think you're picking up on some of life's great lessons. Number One is Life is Not Fair. And for that matter, neither is IMDb. They are part of "The Industry", and as such your little film is a bother to them... because you are not part of the industry in their eyes. They will take other movies that may be much less than yours, BUT have been accepted into a RECOGNIZED film festival (such as many of mine). Their reasoning is if someone else (we sort of trust) "accepted" the movie into their film festival (we recognize), then it must be OK for us to put it into the database. When that's not the case (as seemingly yours is), they don't want to have to do a lot of work to have to watch your movie, review it, etc. and then decide whether or not to include it. It's much easier to say, if it's in a recognized festival, that's good enough for us. I have a bunch of movies that have never been in a festival and I didn't even bother trying to get them in IMDb for that very reason. It's not about "how professional" your movie is... Sorry, but that's the way they work.
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