"PART TWO - SCREENING FEES
The not-so-secret secret of the festival world is that someone is probably being paid, even if you aren't. Fees vary so greatly that it's difficult to come up with a standard, but many films are paid $500, $1000 or more to screen at fest. Some even split box office revenues with the festival - a nice incentive for filmmakers to work hard to get an audience for their film.
Some festivals don't pay screening fees on principle (wherein often the rich - or those with distribution already - get richer and the poor get nothing). Some don't have the financial resources to pay for filmmaker travel and a screening fee. But at a certain point on your festival run, you probably will have reached your saturation point. You've played (or been rejected) by all the major fests and you've been to enough regional fests to keep you in messenger bags and Stella Artois commemorative glasses for a lifetime. This is probably the point at which you should start asking festivals (if you haven't already) to pay to screen your film."
Read the entire long post here; lots of good advice there probably (i only say probably because i have not been able to test out a lot of the ideas in the post, but they sound good; and i am sure A.J. is speaking from direct experience in many or all cases).
(and in a not so distant part of the spacetime continuum/collective unconscious i hear Tom Hall devising a response to that - A.J.'s - & possibly this post, so let me just save some future work & post a link to Tom's recent published thoughts related to this matter here :)
Also related: a new festival (perhaps even a new kind of festival; like a painters group show) that I am planning for '09 in NYC will share revenue with filmmakers & or will pay screening fees; openly (no secret) & universally (to every filmmaker). I've started searching for investors, funders, & venues for the event; there is a nice amount of interest in the project at the moment.
More soon, here & probably elsewhere (will post links here).