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How To Hack Your Browser To See Which Film Festivals Are Actually Watching Your Movie

If you’re a filmmaker who regularly submits your work to film festivals, listen up! This easy little trick will help you keep tabs on the festivals you’re submitting to, and determine which ones are giving your film a fair shake.

Film Freeway (the leading festival submission platform) acts as a liaison between you and festival programmers by sharing a password protected Vimeo screener of your movie with festivals. This screener is hosted on your own Vimeo account, which means you can track the analytics of that video to get a sense of who is watching, so long as you have a Plus or Pro account. 

Most filmmakers know this, and are already using the “Analytics” button under their video player to bring up the chart below. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg…

As you start drilling down into the granular details, Vimeo is able to display some really valuable info. Like which region your film was played in (down to the local city level), how many times the film was played and whether or not the viewer finished watching your film…

This is a great start, but doesn’t ever tell the whole story. Especially if you’re submitting to multiple festivals.

Film festivals have programmers all over the country (and the world), so there is really no way to tell who is watching your movie based on regional data. You may get hits on your movie from cities or states that don’t align with your submission, which can definitely cause confusion.

For instance you may have only submitted your movie to festivals in California, Florida, New York and Texas, but you’re getting views from Wyoming and Tennessee. So… Who are those people watching the movie?

Or maybe you submitted to three different festivals in New York, and you’re getting a ton of hits in that part of the country. How do you determine whether all three or watching the film, or if it’s just one watching multiple times?

Thankfully, there’s a little trick that can help us dig deeper into the analytics to get more concrete data. I don’t know how I never thought of doing this before, but after another filmmaker suggested this on a Facebook group I’m a member of, I had to try it out myself and share it here.

Here’s how the trick works…

STEP #1 – VIEW SOURCE URL

To start this process, simply go to your Vimeo Analytics page and from the “View More” drop down menu on the top, select “Source URL”.

Click the “+” icon next to “filmfreeway.com” to expand the data. The page should look like this:

Each of those numbers following “/submissions/“ refer to a unique ID assigned to your film for each individual festival. Keep that window open and move onto the next step…

STEP #2 – PULL UP FILMFREEWAY SUBMISSIONS

In a separate browser tab or window, navigate to Film Freeway and click on your Submissions list. This will bring up the page with all your pending submissions:

STEP #3 – VIEW SOURCE & COMPARE

While still on your Film Freeway submissions page, select “View Source” on your browser, which will bring up a bunch of HTML code on your screen.

In many browsers, you can do this simply by right clicking on the page and selecting “View Source”.

If you’re using Safari, click on “Safari” in your toolbar. Then click, “Preferences”, then “Advanced”. On the bottom of that window you’ll see an option to “Show Develop menu in menu bar”. Click that.

Now in Safari, you can click the “Develop” button on your toolbar, and select “Show Page Source”. This will appear:

With the HTML now on your screen, bring up the search tool (CMD + F, on a mac) and type in one of the Source URLs from Step 1.  This will bring you right to a section of the code that will present the source URL right next to the name of the festival you’ve submitted to.

And voila, now you know who is watching your movie!

Bare in mind that Vimeo analytics can still be unreliable.

If Vimeo is showing a finished/completed view of your film, that is most likely accurate. But an incomplete view doesn’t necessarily mean the festival/viewer didn’t watch your movie.

Sometimes a viewer will hit pause and re-start the film, and for whatever reason it doesn’t show up as being watched or completed on Vimeo’s analytics page. So keep that in mind before you chase down festivals asking why they didn’t watch your movie!

In any case though, this little trick is sure to come in handy throughout your festival submission process. It gives you a pretty clear indication of which festivals are taking to your film and watching it multiple times, and which are less likely to program it.

Have any other tips for tracking your festival submissions? Leave a comment below!

And don’t forget to follow me on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter!

About Author

Noam Kroll is an award-winning Los Angeles based filmmaker, and the founder of the boutique production house, Creative Rebellion. His work can be seen at international film festivals, on network television, and in various publications across the globe. Follow Noam on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook for more content like this!

5 Comments

  • JL Ruiz
    May 31, 2021 at 10:56 pm

    As of 2021 this no longer works as Film Festivals have now the option to hide their filmfreeway link and very few just leave it open.

    Reply
  • Kath
    November 29, 2020 at 4:50 pm

    This is super helpful, thank you! I’ve tried it and it ALMOST works but the Vimeo source URL takes me to my film project, rather than a particular festival. Is this because the video is embedded? Am I doing something wrong?

    Reply
    • Noam Kroll
      January 14, 2021 at 2:17 am

      Oh, that’s strange! Maybe they changed something – I’ll look into it and report back if I find anything.

      Reply
  • John Seymour
    November 30, 2019 at 2:08 am

    This is awesome! Thank you for sharing your find. I will share your share of the find that was shared. 🙂

    Reply

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