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QCFF 2022 Screener Guide

GREETINGS! Welcome aboard! We open submissions for QCFF 2022 on 1/1. That’s two months earlier than previous years, but still after the announcement dates for Sundance and SXSW. We close on the same schedule as before, 7/31. We are hoping that we have selections final by 8/7 – if you are curating a category (more below), we need your final selections as close to 7/31 as possible, and not later than 8/7. Once the selections are final, we still need to set the running order and generate the program. Full program and schedule should publish not later than 9/1.

Each year, we carry over just the active or requested screeners. We’ll continue recruiting screeners through July. If you can recommend anyone who would like to get involved as a screener, please send them my way. We also have openings for category curators in Horror, LGBT, and Social Justice. Curators are in charge of a category, and submit their short list for selections as a final recommendation. Curators are strongly encouraged to attend the festival, meet the filmmakers in their category, and interact with the audience introducing the selections.

This year, we’re again exclusive with FilmFreeway as our online submission platform. You should have an account using your email address as the ID. You should have received a message with the password links if the accounts are new, otherwise, you should be able to log in as before and choose QCFF from the menu. (If you need password help, click the password recovery link – ping me if I need to delete and recreate the account.)

Thank you again for helping out. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask. Finally, if you are on Facebook, please join our Allegany Allied Arts Volunteers group ( — this is a great place for discussions and updates on other things we’re working on.

One specific note that didn’t fit elsewhere (or got lost!): If you are attached to or involved with a submission in any way, LET ME KNOW immediately and DO NOT RATE the submission. We may ask you to avoid a category in which a project you are involved with is submitted.

In lieu of a formal screener guide (we’re still working on it), here are some notes and frequently asked questions. Please let me know if you have any questions. As submissions start coming in, and we start seeing ratings and answering questions, we’ll provide more guidance, suggestions, and answers to common questions as they come up.


General category notes: (These are the same notes given to filmmakers.)

Animated shorts/features in any genre. May also be programmed in other categories as appropriate, particularly Kids/Family.

Appalachia is a cultural region in the Eastern United States that stretches from the Southern Tier of New York to northern Alabama, Mississippi, and Georgia. Appalachian subject matter is more important than being made in Appalachia…

The cult category is intended for offbeat, irreverent, “midnight” movies. For example, …

Factual, not fictional. “Advocacy journalism” is the practical limit. If your project relates to historic preservation, redevelopment for the arts, or creative placemaking, please contact us for a fee waiver.

Re: Cult vs. Horror: blood scenes will probably push into Horror.

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender – films that explore the LGBTQWERTYUIOP experience or feature LGBT characters or situations. Emphasis is on positive experiences.

Music features and shorts/featurettes tend to be programmed separately from short music videos. Short music videos are generally part of our “Happy Hour” music video block, and we encourage filmmakers to grant rights outside of festival for this block.

Social Justice
Exploring current social issues, here and around the world, through documentary, biography, and fiction.
Re: LGBT vs. Social Justice: Advocacy is the main determinant. Social Justice is mostly about politics and creating change in society, so non-political entries should go in LGBT.
Re: Documentary vs. Social Justice: Anything not completely non-fiction (and there are a few every year) goes in Social Justice. Other than that, neutrality is the main determinant. Documentaries are expected to be unbiased, while Social Justice entries are expected to advocate for change.

In all categories, the dividing line between shorts and features is over/under 40 minutes. For Music Videos, under 10 minutes.


General screener notes:
Our first priority initially is making sure someone looks at each submission. While you are able to submit a rating for anything in the system, please concentrate on things that have not yet been rated. Ratings are 1-10. It is very unlikely that we will screen anything with an overall rating of 6 or below, and as we move through the calendar we will begin rejecting low-scoring submissions. Once we start marking things as Pending Selections, you are encouraged to put on your judges hat and submit additional ratings to help us determine the awards list.

We have a number of flags we can apply to a submission. Here are the defined flags:

RED – Adult content (Apply to submissions in Animation, Kids/Family, Music Shorts, or Music Videos to indicate Adult content. We commonly program from all these categories into Kids/Family blocks, and this helps keep things appropriate.)

YELLOW – Pending Selection (We mark pending selections to make searches easier, to make alternating choices easier, and to avoid notifications until decisions are final.)

GREEN – Redevelopment for the Arts (apply to submissions in Documentary that involve redevelopment for the arts, historic preservation, building arts, etc… Bonus points if it’s also regionally appropriate to Appalachia, or features the C&O Canal or another inland waterway. These may be selected for screening in one of the Educational Panels.)

BLUE – Maryland Filmmaker (Applied to submissions either made by a Maryland filmmaker, or shot (at least in part) in Maryland.)

PINK – LGBT (Apply to submissions in any other category that include LGBT content.)

ORANGE — Family (apply to submissions in any category that are family friendly / kid safe.)

BLACK – Black Block (Apply to submissions in Music or Documentary for the block following Happy Hour.)

Broadly, we try to program one shorts block and one feature block per category. Blocks are generally 2-2.5 hours, and feature blocks can contain featurettes and shorts to fill out running time. We tend to start laying out the schedule with the evening feature blocks.

We have four hours from 12-4pm on Saturday and Sunday that is for family friendly programming in categories such as Animation or Documentary – please make an effort when screening to tag things that are family friendly. (We have dropped the Kids/Family categories this year, but are maintaining the 12-4pm hours.) We try to save the programming that would be R-rated for 8pm or later.

There are two instances where we want to apply a weighting to the ratings. For films made in Maryland or made by Maryland filmmakers, we will effectively add +1 to the aggregate rating. For films in languages other than English where subtitles will be required, we will effectively add -1 to the aggregate ratings. Note: Music video shorts in the Happy Hour block are usually screened without subtitles when not in English.

We are rather flexible with categories. Many of our submissions may be appropriate in more than one category, and where possible, we should note that in our ratings. Cult may have significant overlap with Horror/SciFi. Animation may overlap Music. Documentary may overlap Music or Appalachian. We may choose to select a submission in a different category from which it was entered.

If you find something that’s in the wrong category, two suggestions. First, if it is obviously something we want, let me know and I can move it into the correct category. Second, if it’s obviously something we don’t want, at least mark it “don’t recommend” or the equivalent, give it a low rating, and we can let it drop. DO NOT waste your time watching after you’ve decided we can’t or shouldn’t use it.

Each screener that submits ratings on FilmFreeway will receive two guest passes. Screeners are also encouraged to volunteer at the festival. In addition to event staff for the four day run, we also need volunteers for load-in and load-out on the days before and after festival. Load-in 10/5, festival 10/6-9, load-out 10/10. Festival runs noon-midnight four days, so we have plenty of volunteer event staff to fill at concession, merch, and ticketing. Setup involves a fair bit of sound, light, and AV cabling. We also need tech crew for projection and other AV.

Also, if there are films you are aware of on the festival circuit that you think we should consider, please put me in contact with the filmmaker. I can also grant submission fee waivers or discounts if needed.