Fake Film Festival Scams

How to tell if you are ruining your credibility by passing off fake awards

For the aspiring filmmaker, producer or artist, a festival is a dream come true. The ability to show your work and passion to thousands of people, and even the ultimate dream, to sell that product and become rich and famous. It’s an egotistical artist’s dream! But remember friends, there is an old saying, “if it seems too good to be true, it probably is” and that is why today, so you can avoid these issues, I will write you a quick guide to avoiding getting scammed on fake nonsense.

The Mark

What kind of sucker falls for this

For any scam, you need a mark. So lets first talk about the type of person these scams are targeted at. Typically these are hard working people. They have created something and want the world to see it, even if it is a horrific embarrassment to themselves. The first step is Identify where to find MARKS that are stupid, desperate and looking to shop an inferior product around that can’t draw any attention on its own merits.

This is where sites like FilmFreeway.Com come in.

Film freeway is one of a few internet sites that require payment for access to their social media style page system where you can pay AGAIN to submit your work to a festival

To be clear, not all festivals on Filmfreeway are scams. But, as you can see with a SIMPLE ASS 30 SECOND GOOGLE SEARCH OF NEWS AND EVENTS, FilmFreeway appears to come up A LOT in the world of Film Festival scams, as it appears to go unregulated until a festival is REPORTED to them as fake. FilmFreeway boasts over 7000 events, but according to THIS article on Submittingtofilmfestivals.com  only 42 festivals have ever been removed from the site.

This may very well be due to FilmFreeway.Com taking a percentage of the “submission fees” as well as charging the scammers for membership. In addition to this what technically constitutes a “Scam film festival” is pretty vague. Some festivals take place online (in these cases they are not technically festivals. Legally it would be a Gathering at best.) Even if they claim a venue, technically if 3 people show up (All in on it) and take a picture, boom, it was a real thing. The point is, submitting your work to festivals can be both an expensive and dangerous game. That multiplies tenfold for people who are DESPERATE to get recognition. The starving artist, moviemaker. People with a ego who are willing to believe ANYTHING if someone tells them they finally won something and are getting the recognition they think they deserve. 

But how do you keep the people AROUND the mark from cluing them in? Well, first off if they are involved in the project, they very well may be just as desperate and willing to believe anything while doing no research at all. Or, more likely, an “artist” can be a very emotionally fragile individual. Someone who tends to cry, flail with childish rage and emotion, essentially, someone that nobody in their life can tell the truth to. We all know someone like that…You like them, but it’s too much trouble to argue with them or break bad news to them. This is the perfect mark they are looking for. Don’t be that guy.

Imagine an artist struggling with a product he wants people to see, but it’s not really that GOOD. HE BELIEVES in it though, and won’t hear a word about its quality from anyone. Mistakes were made, but this is an artist’s work and he is going to get it off the ground. IF WE COULD JUST GET PEOPLE TO LOOK AT IT, right?

This is the sucker FilmFreeway was made for. “Here, pay us and you can submit to THOUSANDS of festivals, you will definitely be famous!”

Many Articles have been published on spotting fake film festivals. I will list a few below before we move on to how to SPOT one, so that if you would like to learn more these resources are available. Of course, just googling “scam film festivals” will bring this up, but I will assume someone desperate enough to do this kind of thing isn’t going to go second-guessing their ill-gotten awards that real filmmakers and artists have to actually work for. Stealing a film award, to filmmakers and people in the industry is like presenting a fake medal of honor. People WILL check on this award you cite, and if it is fake, it WILL rob you of your credibility. The assumption will be it was YOUR scam. Leaving you not only in a worse place, but anywhere from $15.00 to $300.00 USD poorer as well. And keep in mind, these people submit to MULTIPLE “festivals”.

That’s how the scam usually starts. A desperate filmmaker or animator googling how to submit to film festivals, or an email like the one below, telling you THEY FOUND YOU. I know, it’s clearly a form email, but like I said, artists can be very desperate when they want attention and validation. 

An example of a form email these scammers use to bring in suckers

Since we are on the subject of FilmFreeway.com I will cover this now. FilmFreeway in and of itself is not a scam website. Think of it like YouTube, Facebook, X or any other platform. Users join it, and THEY do the scamming. However, this being said…FilmFreeway.Com comes up in every article below. The FilmFreeway website should NEVER be your only source of information on the award you just purchased, err, won from a scammer. You can submit to legitimate festivals there, but it seems like there are just as many scammers from many countries.

Some quick links below you can read later so you don't look like a fucking dumbass...

Lets Play Detective

The OBVIOUS ways to tell it is a scam

The game is simple. We will pick a film festival (erm…At Random) and I will use the links above and the VERY SIMPLE COMMON SENSE ADVICE to see if the festival is a scam or not. Hey, this one looks good!

The SUN FILM FEST which claims to be currently active and taking submissions on FilmFreeway.Com

For our learning exersize we will be using the SUN FILM FEST as an example. Totally random pick. No other motive here at all. 

Well…Time to investigate, but first we need to know what to look for. 

Long "Call For Entries" Window

If it's all year it is probably a scam. First thing on EVERY ARTICLE ABOUT THIS.

The call for entries window is exactly what it sounds like. The timeframe in which you are allowed to submit your work. This is roundly considered the easiest way to spot a scam by many experts cited in this article. 

Typically, they don’t want to sit around all year waiting on submissions and checking the mailbox every day. They have things to do like CHOOSING FILMS and PLANNING A DAMN FESTIVAL. They give the filmmakers TIME to create, while they plan the event. Think about it, The Cannes film festival, event planning wise, is the same every year. It is for these reasons the call for entry window is usually only 90-120 days before the festival itself. 

Therefore a BIG red flag in the industry is festivals that let you submit work in open call for up to a year or more. AN EVEN BIGGER RED FLAG IF THEY DON’T EVEN CARE WHEN THE PRODUCT WAS MADE. Scammers do this because they make money on your submission fee, and therefore want that window open as long as possible and you able to send in 20 year old crap as long as you pay them 10 bucks. All they are doing is sending some “you won!” JPEG’s to a few dumbasses, what do they care?

How Does SUN FILM FEST measure up?

I would say a year, but…Well, frankly, it does not appear they even POST A CALL FOR ENTRIES WINDOW on Filmfreeway (just a bunch of blockbuster movie names…) or on their own (Really terribly made) Wix website…This can’t be a good sign…You can just submit whenever…Click the images to see full size. 

The Sun Film Fest Rules where you can just submit ALL YEAR ROUND!!
The Sun Film Fest's WIX website that looks like it was created by a 12 year old and contains no information about this topic, simply forwarding you to filmfreeway

In retrospect this should probably not be a surprise since even on google the website DOES NOT EVEN HAVE A TITLE.

Fun Fact, if a company doesn't even bother to title their WIX WEBSITE there is a good chance it is a 13 year old Indian kid scamming you from Bombay

Unfortunately for the SUN FILM FEST in this section they get a huge fail. Not only a huge fail, a SUPREME SHAMEFUL DISPLAY. Allow me to show you why. This, below; is a LEGITIMATE FESTIVAL. Please focus on the schedule on the right side of the screen. Click the image to expand. As you can see it has clear dates and deadlines when everything must be submitted. There is an EARLY BIRD registration, but Regular is May – August…3 MONTH WINDOW TO SUBMIT, 4 MONTHS BEFORE THE EVENT.

What a legitimate festival page looks like


OH WEIRD, THE ENTIRE YEAR TO SUBMIT, AS WELL AS THE DEADLINES JUST BEING THE BOTTED TITLES OF FILMS THAT ARE DEFINATELY NOT IN THIS FESTIVAL, PUT THERE FOR THE PURPOSE OF INCREASING KEYWORD SEO. I screenshotted this on the rules page so that we were clear they DEMAND YOU OWN THE FILMS you submit. So unless Quinton Tarantino, Martin Scorsese and Peter Weir are submitting 20-40 year old movies to the same film festivals as powerhouses on the level of “Gulf City” This may be a giant red flag if you have at least 2 neurons firing that can communicate with each other.

I am not calling the Sun Film Fest a scam at this time, but I am saying that the APPEARANCE is not good. But hey, there are other criteria, right? This is just ONE fail, right? 

Lack of Verifiable History

Otherwise known as "Ever heard of Google, asshole?"

So we have questions about the legitimacy of this film festival. No big deal, surely there is some proof they exist. It says right on their page they have been in operation for years now..

The first thing to do is simply search the festival. In the case of the SUN FILM FEST the only things you will find are the FilmFreeway page, and their terrible Wix site…And THIS IMDB page. Not a good sign.

The Sun Film Festival IMDB linked from their website, completely empty aside from being gay

So, complete fail when looking for legitimate information and reviews other than the FOUR on their Filmfreeway. next is if this festival is NOT ONLINE, look for photos of the previous year’s events. I did. They offer THESE IMAGES of previous festivals! So it’s legit right?!

This is where tools like google image search start to come in handy

That’s not a great sign. They were just generic photos of a theatre that looked stock to begin with, having no captions, staff photos, nothing. No Red carpet, nobody’s face….But to find out this very well may be a THANJAVOR INDIA Theater and not THE FUCKING SPANISH COUNTRYSIDE would be something to raise the eyebrows, eh? Oh yeah, did I mention that they claim this festival is in SPAIN? lol.

They also have an Instagram where they simply post the same cheaply made “award” images shown on FilmFreeway.Com. And that is it. There is no verifiable proof aside from stolen theater images, a filmfreeway page that has MOVIE NAMES INSTEAD OF SUBMISSION DATES and a wix website that this organization even exists.

Facebook, twitter, linkedin? nope. Just an instagram that SUSPICIOUSLY LACKS these Theater images. Almost like they don’t want to post them where people can comment and call them fake. Or I guess for any other number of reasons…


Probably fake photos of the backs of people’s heads in a theater that google image search says is in India, shoddy website, and a FilmFreeway page that looks like AI made mistakes on it…Do I even need to dignify this with an answer? They fail through the floor. Holy crap. What kind of RETARDED FUCKING DUMBASS would fall for this. 

Who in their right mind would see this, give them money and A COPY OF YOUR FILM? To get an award you can never present with your work because it will delegitimize it? Lose your credibility? possibly even brag online and get humiliated? What immense asshole would ever buy into such a pathetic and shoddy scam.

A few. Like I said. Artists are so egotistical and hard to deal with sometimes, not only will they forgo common sense, the people around them usually have to walk on eggshells to avoid a childish temper tantrum. It’s an artist thing, I guess. They don’t even have a staff or contributors page..They have an INTERVIEWS page where they simply publish interviews with indy filmmakers you have never heard of from countries that don’t matter. 

"Oh Hi, instead of who works here and creates this festival, here is what looks like a staff page but is actually an interview from some foreign filmmaker


Prestigious Locations

"I wonder why A Film Festival in Europe is interested in my vulgar ass flash cartoon?"

Two important notes here. Film festivals in prestigious locations have contracts and become staples, they run for years. If you hear about a NEW festival in one of these locations, that could be  a red flag. one in New York, LA, Paris, or For instance, if there is a film festival with a $9.99 Euro entry fee, being held on the coast in Spain that supposedly has only been running for 3 years, you might want to ask for some verifiable proof of legitimacy that this thing actually exists. After all, it’s not like a POOR STARVING ARTIST FROM AMERICA LIVING IN NEAR POVERTY WILL GET THAT MONEY. If they had throwaway Europe trip money, they could probably get their product seen by themselves. 

In an article from Hollywood Reporter we see how this kind of thing can play out. 

Landing on the morning of Oct. 29, Marinangel checked into her Airbnb (a spare room in the somewhat unglamorous west-of-London town of Slough, perhaps best known as the setting of Ricky Gervais’ original The Office) and got ready for the red carpet opening-night reception, where she would be able to mingle with fellow filmmakers from the 22 other shorts taking part in the event.

But Marinangel still hadn’t heard back from the organizers about Eternal Waltz‘s exact screening time, and wanted to invite friends. With no other contact except the solitary email address she’d been coordinating through, she rang the university.

There was a problem.

The school knew nothing about the Eurocinema Film Festival, and it certainly wasn’t taking place within its walls. Marinangel was outraged. She fired off several angry emails before eventually receiving a rather short reply Oct. 31 — a day after the festival was supposed to take place — saying that there had been “some issues” with contacts at the venue (something denied by the university, which contacted the London Metropolitan Police’s fraud department).

As you just read, sometimes people SHOW UP to these fake events to get their award, spending thousands in air travel and accommodations, just to find out it was all a scam to get 20 bucks American out of them. They do it to Thousands of desperate filmmakers and animators, with the help of marketing from Filmfreeway.com in many cases according to these sources.

How Does Sun Film Fest Measure up?

Sun Film Festival claims to be held in El Alto Ampurdán, Cataluña Spain.

Possible I guess…They charge 9.99 Euros to enough suckers, maybe they can pull it off. Lets have a look around. Remember, this is a small Indy festival for independent filmmakers so small they charge you 10 bucks to enter. So massive they target YouTubers with under 5k subscribers to give “awards” to. They claim they have sponsors, but show none on their website or FilmFreeway page…LIKE ALL THE OTHER FESTIVALS DO…But hey, lets go look anyway, this could be legitimate…They might be doing something small and humble…


These Geniuses get people to BRAG ONLINE about being dumb enough to believe this.

Welcome to fabulous El Alto Ampurdán Cataluña, where if you make flash animations you will be invited to join the elite at the Sun Film Fest

This is starting to look like the Nigerian prince scam of Filmmaking. For the amazing low price of 10 Euros processed on Filmfreeway.com your film is whisked away to one of the most beautiful and expensive vacation destinations in the world. Home of the Salvador Dali museum as well. Which is probably where you will go if you travel there, because I am starting to get the feeling that there isn’t a film festival in sight. 

Call me a cynic, but what kind of egotistical asshole playing nice to people’s faces to get money out of them while trash talking them all behind their backs would believe ANY OF THIS.

“yeah man, I can’t get anyone to watch my shit for free on social media, but for 10 bucks you will make me a European film legend.” – Some fucking asshole (Probably)

It’s possible SOMEONE will go here, but very unlikely it will be any broke indy filmmakers from America. Good luck of you try.

But what about the Venue? That would tell us something right? Well despite this being YEAR 3 of this “festival” existing, I could find 0, count them, ZERO references to any venue past or present. No photos of previous years, no staff, no news articles, not even a damn blog from a winning filmmaker. The MOST I found were some botted Autoposts on twitter shared from…You guessed it: FilmFreeway.

Utter fail on behalf of the SUN FILM FEST.

So what's The Verdict

lol what do you think it is? This is a completely fraudulent award. Only a fraud would accept one too.

I went back to r/filmmakers and asked this same question and gave them Sun Film Festival’s name and information. NOT ONE thought they were legitimate. So at least, if you see someone posting “awards” from the “SUN FILM FEST” you can rest your mind at ease about one thing. That person is fucking stupid. Stupider than REDDIT ANSWERS. Which I am of course kidding about, because r/filmmakers had some pretty informative things to say!

A reply about SUN FILM FEST on r/filmmakers showing us only an desperate unprofessional dumbass would fall for such a thing

So even if you are thinking “ok AP, not everyone uses google reverse image search and does forensics before submitting a film” that is not the case. Someone who knew nothing but the name of the festival came up with this. This is common sense. No Organizer listed, no staff, no VENUE, and so much more.

If the person who made this mistake ever ACTUALLY WORKED in production and event planning I would have to REFUSE TO BELIEVE this could be a mistake. In that specific case, that hypothetical giant fucking asshole WOULD KNOW ALL THESE RED FLAGS BECUASE HE IS USED TO LOOKING FOR THEM WHEN NOT GETTING SCAMMED TAKING GIGS. If, for instance, this person owned a production company I would have to assume they were legitimately passing a scam off on their audience, or that since I saw them last they damaged their brain with drugs.

Or a really annoying woman keeps getting involved and fucking up his perspective on what is considered a “fucking disgrace to everything you ever claimed to be about.” Who knows? I’m not psychic. I just know this was objectively simple to figure out.

Look, I cannot verify wether or not the Sun Film Fest is a scam. I can just tell you that it only took me about 30 minutes to get all the information seen here. And that also includes the time to read the articles cited above. So it doesn’t take a lot of time or a research genius to figure these things out. In fact, on a site made for JUST THIS, https://www.submittingtofilmfestivals.com/ they even offer a template email you can edit for any film festival email solicitations you receive, and it is VERY ENLIGHTING. I will include it below, my notes in (blue):

Dear Festival Director,

Thank you for reaching out to me from Festival Name. I appreciate your interest in my work; After reviewing the information you provided in your email, I checked your website and FilmFreeway page. I have several concerns and reservations about the festival and its workings. Perhaps you can address them for me. 

Firstly, I notice a lack of personal information about the festival director(s) and the jury on the festival’s website. (there is no staff, director or Jury information on ANY SUN FILM FEST WEBSITE.) Transparency and credibility are important factors when considering participation in a film festival, and the absence of such information raises doubts about the festival’s legitimacy. 

Secondly, upon visiting the festival’s website, I found it vague and limited in terms of its content and the details about how the running of the festival. The overall appearance of the website, along with a generic email address, gives the impression of a potential spam or scam festival. (Wix Website from some slavic country, barely functioning and looks like trash, Filmfreeway site not only lacks a schedule, they REPLACED it with the generic names of blockbuster films from decades ago) As an artist, it is critical to prioritize trustworthy platforms and events over those looking to make money out of unaware filmmakers. 

Thirdly, it is always questionable when a festival offers more than 20 categories. (SUN FILM FEST has 34 Categories) Additionally, the only prize available to the filmmakers is selection laurels (PNG) and downloadable certificates (PDF) for the winners. (they don’t even do all that. lol)

Considering these concerns, I kindly request you to provide me with more information about the festival and its organizers. It would be helpful to have details about the festival’s history, past editions, notable participants or winners, and any affiliations with reputable organizations within the film industry. This information will assist me in making an informed decision regarding my potential participation.

If I do not receive a satisfactory explanation or clarification regarding these concerns, I will inform FilmFreeway about my experience and observations. They take such matters seriously, and they may consider taking appropriate action, which may include the removal of your festival from their platform.

I look forward to receiving the requested information at your earliest convenience.


Your Name?

Literally everything in the letter. But the things in the form letter are just common sense right? you don’t go sending people money who email you and actually EXPECT things right? 

One guy I know did. One guy who in addition to stealing jokes, decided to take shots at me with a parody character…Errm, that I named….Again, another stolen joke.

And what would that complete sucker do after being confronted with this? My guess would be cry or deny. Most likely pretend he knew the whole time, but if that was the case…Why send some slav scam artist money? you could have made your own stupid JPEG. And why, without a sense of irony, did you present this to your audience as a real award? For these reasons lets assume he is just a fucking dumbass to miss ALL OF THIS. Desperate for some manner of success, but not able to achieve it on his own or in present company. Pride and ego boiling over.

And what immeasurable ninny would fall for this out of desperation and attempt to pass the illegitimate award on to their audience? An act that if done knowingly would END YOUR CAREER if you only had…Lets say 20-50 people watching and they found out you tried to pull another fast one? You surely wouldn’t act surprised on social media for an award YOU PAID 10 DOLLARS FOR RIGHT?

Watch, he will be the victim somehow too. That’s an artist for you. I have news for you old buddy who thinks the high road involves stealing jokes and taking shots at people you claimed to make peace with…You didn’t win shit. According to you I was “Cheapening your brand” despite you utterly tanking after I left. But you know what I would not have done, gotten taken by this bullshit amateur grift. You have been bragging about getting scammed by some fucking Slavs. 

Which to be fair makes you no different than the U.S Government right now. So probably not a huge deal.

Gulf City, Definately not a cheaper brand knowingly passing off fake Laurels on twitter because no real success is coming
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