Log in


  • Home
  • A Whole New Peer Entry System

A Whole New Peer Entry System

by Bill Coughlan, TIVA President

This year, we sadly said goodbye to our longtime Peer Awards entry system, and ushered in a new platform, one that is likely familiar to the independent filmmaker contingent, but may be largely unknown to those of us working “in the trenches” in the local production industry: FilmFreeway.

Originally developed as a competitor to the industry-dominant Withoutabox (which was purchased by IMDb in 2008, itself a subsidiary of Amazon), FilmFreeway was set up as a way for filmmakers to submit to film festivals around the world, without dealing with all of the different individual festival submission processes. The system might be thought of analogous to Common App, the system that allows prospective students to enter their information once and use that to apply to several different colleges. Only in this case, the user enters their information once, and can then use that to submit to multiple different film festivals. And on the other side of the equation, film festivals can collect all of the information from their submitters in one central location, as well as screeners for evaluation and systems for judging those entries.

But the Peer Awards is most definitely not a film festival. So why choose this system over our prior one?

Part of it is the user interface. While not as robust on the back end as our previous system, FilmFreeway — designed to appeal to a wide audience of users — is set up to be as simple as possible. That's not to say it's easy, but once you familiarize yourself with the basics, entering is straightforward and easy. The layout of the site is designed with the user experience in mind: the user is the first concern, not a secondary thought after the underlying database functionality.

Another part is the cost structure. Our prior entry system required a full up-front payment of several thousand dollars (and had, in fact, doubled in price this year), whereas the FilmFreeway system operates on a percentage-of-entry-fees basis (and also offers discounts for being the exclusive system for collecting entries). As responsible stewards of our members’ funds, this was definitely top-of-mind.

And yet a third consideration was sustainability. The old Peer system was certainly comprehensive, but required extensive database management experience to take advantage of that functionality. While the FilmFreeway back end certainly isn’t simple, its user interface is logical, intuitive, and self-contained. (And, of course, there is a support team that has been extremely helpful as we work out the basics.)

All that said, there have been some things we've had to work around. Because entrants submit in individual production and skills categories — and not just once overall, after which judges determine what categories it should be judged in — we had to do some extensive work to make the system work for our particular event. This entailed a complete rethinking of our structure and process, such as grouping entries into larger “bucket” categories, with individual subcategories underneath. And we had to develop custom submission-form questions to make sure we were capturing the critical information our judges needed to evaluate the entries accordingly. At all times, we had to strike a balance between making sure we had sufficient information and not making the submission process too cumbersome for submitters.

There have been quite a few growing pains, of course. One thing that truly surprised us was the number of pleas from Iranian filmmakers asking for fee waivers — Jim Pennington has done a yeoman's job of gently informing them that (a) we do not offer fee waivers, and (b) their films are not eligible in the first place (which would be clear if they stopped to actually look at our event page before emailing blindly).

As we work through this process, we welcome feedback from everyone involved. We may or may not continue with FilmFreeway in the future, but any decision we make in that regard will be done with the best interests of our membership first and foremost — and for that, we need (and sincerely appreciate) your input.

Since the process is new, we decided to reprint our “Frequently Asked Questions” here for your review — including a dedicated "how-to" video (customized to our specific needs) produced by TIVA Vice President Zeke Dowty. Give it a read, reach out to us with any questions at peerawards@tivadc.org, and happy submitting!

FilmFreeway Entry Walkthrough

Since FilmFreeway is new to TIVA as an organization (though many of us have used it individually), here are a few off-the-cuff tips for accessing the system and submitting your work:

  • Add a New FilmFreeway ProjectThe first step in the process will be to set up an initial FilmFreeway profile (if you don’t have one already) and enter your project information; again, you only have to enter your project information once, and that information will be carried through for as many entries as you like.
  • The next step is to go in and submit your project for the awards. (Because it’s a new process to a lot of people, we’ve had a few people who thought they’d entered, only to find out they had just entered their project information, but not actually completed the submission process.) Choose your production or skills submission category along the right-hand side of the Peer Awards page (i.e., http://www.filmfreeway.com/TIVAPeerAwards), open the tab and click the big “Submit Now” button. Then you can answer any specific questions necessary for your category (e.g., target audience, subcategories, budget range, etc.) and add that submission to your “shopping cart.” (It works just like most other online shopping sites.)
  • FilmFreeway Shopping CartOnce you have added a submission to your shopping cart, you’ll see a “Cart” link at the top of the page; click on that to see your shopping cart, where you can enter your payment information and click the “Complete Your Order“ button at the bottom of your cart to finalize your submission. That’s all there is to it!
  • We do ask that you submit entries one at a time — mostly because that’ll allow us to direct your entry to the appropriate judging team, and make sure that we get the right information for any potential trophy or award certificate (since that may differ depending on which category is being judged). A bit longer to do for multiple-award submitters, but it isn’t especially onerous.

There’s more information available on both the dedicated FilmFreeway entry page and our Rules and Terms page, and as always, you can direct any individual questions to peerawards@tivadc.org.

Submission Process Walkthrough Video

Frequently Asked Questions

I’m a TIVA member, but I don’t see the TIVA member submission discount. How do I get my reduced submission rate for my membership?
Because the FilmFreeway system does not interface directly with the TIVA member database, special discount codes (which can be entered at checkout) were emailed to currently active TIVA members. If you did not receive your discount code, first please check to see if the email was filtered by your email client. If you still cannot find your discount code, please let us know an we can check your membership status and send you a new code.
Are there discounts for subsequent entries?
While in years past, we have offered discounts for multiple entries, thst is not the case this year. In an effort to make the awards more accessible to individual participants (including those who may only be submitting single entries), we have opted instead to significantly reduce the overall submission fees rather than discounting subsequent ones.
Do I have to be a producer or director to submit work?
No. Although much of the wording on the FilmFreeway site is geared toward producers and directors, for purposes of the Peer Awards you can also submit your work so long as your role is representative of the category you’re submitting to (e.g., an actor can submit for their acting role, or a musician can submit for their scoring work).
I’m not seeing my particular category in the list. Where is that category?
Given the sheer number of categories available for submission, we have broken them down into larger categories and subcategories. For example, Acting on Camera - Fiction, Male is underneath the Acting on Camera category (click the little arrow next to the category to see the available subcategories for each). You will be able to select the particular subcategory on the submission screen.
I have an audio-only submission, but there doesn’t seem to be an “audio” category for my project. How do I classify my project?
You can set it up as either a Film/Video or Music/Songwriting project; either will work for audio categories. Generally speaking, Film/Video is best if your submission file contains video (even just a still video frame, as would be required for uploading to YouTube or Vimeo); Music/Songwriting is best if your submission file is audio only, which you can upload to the FilmFreeway site.
Does my work have to be completed for me to set up my project?
No. You will have the option to upload your project file at any point prior to judging. So you can set up your project now and upload when it’s complete. Similarly, you can also update your submission file at any point prior to judging (if, for example, you make a tweak to the audio mix, adjust colors, modify the edit, etc.).
I have a submission that has special viewing requirements and can’t be judged through an online system. How do I submit that project?
While all submissions must be submitted through the FilmFreeway platform, we have contingencies in place to evaluate and judge these special project (such as interactive pieces). For purposes of your submission, set up your project as a Film/Video project (possibly including some kind of preview piece) and note the special requirements on your submission form. (It won’t hurt to also email peerawards@tivadc.org to make sure we’re aware of it, as we will need to make special judging arrangements.)
Why can’t we just submit using the old system?
Unfortunately, because of several changes this year, the old submission system is no longer available for us to use. We selected FilmFreeway for several reasons, including its overall simplicity (both in terms of its user interface and behind-the-scenes systems) and its familiarity to a significant portion of our membership. We do understand that it’s a new system to many, and there are understandably tradeoffs involved. As always, we welcome your feedback so that we can continue to refine the syste, and evaluate its continued use in the future (not to mention updating this FAQ document).
I missed the [early bird / regular / late] deadline. Can I have a waiver to submit at the lower rate?
As always, please reach out to us with your particular situationm but unfortunately, once a deadline has passed, we cannot issue waivers to submit at lower rates.
I can’t afford the entry fee. Can I have a discount?
We do offer discounts for active TIVA members (at all levels); if you are interested in TIVA membership, please visit the Join page on this site. Otherwise, we strive to make submission fees reasonable enough for most people to afford while still being sufficient to cover costs. We also offer discounts for early submissions, and student discounts in certain categories. (And our high school-oriented Peer Promise category is free to enter, though restricted to currently active high school students.) Otherwise, we do not offer discounts or free-entry waivers.
Does my submission include a ticket to the awards ceremony and screening event?
Submission fees and event tickets are completely separate; event tickets will be made available closer to the event weekend itself. Please be sure to budget accordingly.
I’m submitting the same project in multiple categories. If we should win an award, how do I make sure the names on the trophy are correct for each category?
As noted in the submission process section above, please enter each submission separately (i.e., one at a time, up through final checkout). This will allow you to make sure that each entry has the correct names listed, as well as ensuring that we are able to direct the entries to the appropriate judging teams (since different categories have different judges).
Why do you want us to enter submissions separately? Does that mean I’m paying more than I would be normally?
The only reason we ask that submissions be entered separately is to ensure that awards list the correct names, and to more easily direct your entry to the appropriate Peer judging team. (The system just generates a single database line each time you enter, so if you make three entries in the same transaction, we’ll have to go in and manually separate those out.) Entry fees are identical whether you enter one at a time or in a batch (since there are no bulk-entry discounts or discounts for subsequent entries). Making multiple submissions at once will in no way be a disqualifier; we’re just trying to make sure everything goes smoothly.
I’m having trouble entering through the system. Can you just enter my project for me?
For both logistical and ethical reasons, we cannot bypass the submission system. But if you are still having difficulties after following the process above and reading through the FAQ, please reach out to us at peerawards@tivadc.org (well in advance of any approaching deadlines) and we will do our best to help diagnose your particular issues.
So once I’ve entered all of my project information, is that all I have to do to submit?
No — make sure to enter that project in the specific category for which you’d like to enter via the dedicated FilmFreeway TIVA Peer Awards site at https://filmfreeway.com/TIVAPeerAwards and continue through final submission and checkout. (See the above process walkthrough for details.)
I’m not seeing how to submit payment for my entry. Where do I do that?
You will enter your payment information in your Shopping Cart — be sure to sroll down to the bottom to see payment options, discount code entry, and the final submission button. (See the above process walkthrough for details.)
How do you define a piece as being from “the mid-Atlantic region”?
For purposed of the Peer Awards, the “mid-Atlantic region” is considered to include Washington, DC, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Delaware. Entrants must have lived or worked in those areas during the production in question. We have a pull-down menu on the entry form where entrants have to explicitly confirm this, in an attempt to weed out the surprising number of out-of-area entry requests we’ve already received.
Are there other special rules and terms for the TIVA Peer Awards?
Yes — please see our dedicated Rules and Terms page for more details. After reviewing those, if you have specific questions, please feel free to reach out to us at peerawards@tivadc.org.
How many times am I allowed to enter?
You may submit as many entries as you wish under any of the production/skills categories. (As noted above, it’s preferable to actually make the entries separately.)
Can I submit an entry that was submitted in a previous year?
Yes, but you may not enter it into a category for which it previously won an award. Moreover, the entry still must meet all current eligibility requirements (e.g., production year).
How do I make sure my submission is presented in the highest quality possible for the judges?
FilmFreeway’s built-in video playback system replays video in 720p HD for the judges. This is usually sufficient for most purposes, but if you want to have your submission played back at higher quality, we recommend using a Vimeo or YouTube link as your project file. (This can be specified on your FilmFreeway project page.)
Why do I have to enter additional details about my entry on the submission form?
While the basic information about your entry is entered on your project information page, there are some segments that are required specific to both the Peer Awards and your particular submission category. These help our judges better understand your work. What was the purpose/goal? Who was the intended audience? Were there constraints under which the work was produced? The details also help us verify the entry is being judged in the proper category (e.g., a $25K video should not be included in the under $10K category).
Why do you ask for a suggested 30-second clip of my entry?
During the awards ceremony, each Gold Award recipient will have 30 seconds of their entry presented as the winner comes to the stage. (This is in addition to the Winner Showcase event, during which we will be showing a selection of full Gold Award-winning entrants.) While we certainly could pick a clip ourselves, we want you to have the ability to ensure the clip best represents your entry.
Will I be competing against other entries?
The TIVA Peer Awards isn’t a competition, but a merit-based award judged solely on the individual quality of the entry. As a result, some categories may receive multiple awards of the same level, and some categories may not receive awards. (In other words, entries aren’t ranked “first, second, third,” but are given an award based on their individual level of accomplishment.)
Who judges my entry?
Judging panels are selected on a volunteer basis from industry professionals in the mid-Atlantic region. Judges are selected based on their expertise in the particular category they are evaluating.
What are the key dates for the 23rd Annual TIVA Peer Awards?
July 31, 2019: Early bird entry deadline
November 30, 2019: Regular entry deadline
December 31, 2019: Late entry deadline
March 6, 2020: Award finalist notification
March 21, 2020: Peer Award ceremony
March 22, 2020: Peer Award Gold Award showcase
Will I need to purchase a trophy/certificate if my entry is selected for an award?
There is no additional fee for awards/certificates presented the night of the Peer Awards ceremony. All Gold Award recipients will receive a TIVA-DC Peer Award trophy the night of the ceremony. Silver and Bronze recipients will receive an embossed certificate suitable for framing. Additional Gold trophies as well as Silver and Bronze trophies and/or certificates may be ordered for a nominal fee after the ceremony. (A special discount period will be offered for trophy/certificate orders immediately following the ceremony.)
Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software