Help me get to film festivals

Hey guys, I started a Gofundme.com page.  I’m about to go to Wales for a film festival and I’d appreciate any help you can give me to cover expenses, and help me get to further festivals in the future.  If you can donate anything, I’d be grateful.  The only reward I can give is to continue to post updates from my travels, as I’ve done so far.  Please click here to help me out.

Overwhelming Majority is an experimental documentary short dealing with issues of loneliness, alienation, and social anxiety. A young woman recounts a suicide attempt, muses on the nature of connectedness, and ultimately yearns for understanding.

Film festival information, pt. 3

The film festival submissions process still baffles me.  I have no idea if I’ve gone about this the right way, if there are things that I should be doing but aren’t, and what I can do from here to improve my chances.  One of the things I did is to send out emails to the festivals after they’re over asking for comments and some have been nice enough to respond.  I’ve gotten a few emails from festival directors who have taken the time to reply in depth giving me some interesting perspectives on my work, and it has helped me see exactly what these festivals are after, how I can improve for the next film, hopefully.  Actually, one of the most in-depth and longest critiques I got helped me understand how much of an idiot that festival director was (or at least how different out perspectives are), so at least I learned not to submit to that festival again.  I’ve also started taking the opportunity to get the programmers drunk and ask them in person when I go to festivals, to find out specifically why my film got in.  From my communication so far, here are some good points to take away:

-There will be festival directors and programmers out there that are idiots.
I appreciate the in-depth response that I got from this one guy, not least of which is because he took the time to respond: most didn’t.  And I don’t feel defensive about it, don’t want to use this post to lash out, but I will say this: he just didn’t get it.  Since none of you have seen my film anyway it’s hardly helpful to delve too deeply into specifics.  Everything in my film that other people have complimented me for was for whatever reason seen as a mark of amateurism, right down to calling it an ‘experimental’ film.  Some festival programmers will have no experience with (or interest in) experimental films, no art background, and no desire to play anything but the slickest Hollywood-style productions.  And to be fair, my film isn’t for everyone and probably wouldn’t have played well to that particular audience.  I’m still working out a way to know in advance which festivals my work will play well at, so I’m not wasting as much money in submission fees.

-Don’t submit unfinished work: only submit the best possible film.
If the film you’re sending in isn’t ready to go up in front of an audience that minute, it’s a waste of a submission fee.  Programmers will not watch a film in its entirety if it sucks, and I’m sure they have to watch a lot of shit.  And whether it’s true or not, they say they can tell from the first few minutes (seconds?) whether a film is worth their time.  You’re not guaranteed to have your film watched all the way through.  For the other side, rough cuts aren’t accepted well.  A direct quote: ‘If they can’t submit a finished film before our submissions deadline, how can I trust them to finish it on time for the festival?’  Really, I think that’s a legitimate argument.  ‘Submitting late is better for you than submitting an unfinished film.  Or don’t submit at all, wait until next year.’

-It’s really out of your hands.  Also, shorter is better.
There was a programmer who really loved my film, had it as a contender all the way up to the final notification deadline, but still didn’t program it.  He wrote me that people programming festivals see a lot of shit (which I can firmly believe) and that originality is greatly valued.  Talk about mixed messages, considering that he rejected me, so I’m not sure how valued it can be.  But he said it would have gotten in if it were shorter.  ‘Programmers love short films that are in the 5 to 7 minutes range in total run time. Why? Because they can usually fit it in easily anywhere into the schedule.’  Unfortunately, Overwhelming Majority is 10:46.

-Programmers will read your cover letter
Evidently that’s one thing that set me apart, or helped explain my work, or gave insight into my film for one programming director.  And because it’s so rare, finding the one person who totally gets this film is great…especially when he’s the one who picks the films for the festival.  My cover letter’s description of central themes and inspirations helped him build a program around my film.  Also, that guy from above, who thought the term ‘experimental’ was just a mask for it being severely amateur, read my cover letter too, and mentioned it as another reason he rejected me.

Even other filmmakers I’ve talked to don’t have any special insight into submissions, they’re just as confused by the whole thing as I am, and they’re on their third or fourth film now.  And I sure don’t know why I got into the festivals I did, except that the programming directors that saw them liked them enough to include them.  So in conclusion, I really don’t know anything after all, but I’m slightly wiser going into the process and hopefully others will be as well.

edit: this is post #200!  Congrats to me.

Part One | Part Two

Film festival information, compiled

I’ve decided to compile all the things I’ve learned so far as I’ve gone through all the film festival submissions process.  I’ve been tracking this info down for a while now, and this is what I tell filmmakers when asked about applying to festivals.

Here are three sources that I found to be useful:
Film Festival Secrets – Christopher Holland
The Ultimate Film Festival Survival Guide – Chris Gore
Official Rejection, dir. Paul Osborne

Now one of the problems with those books and movies is that they all came out in 2009 and so are almost 10 years old now.  Information moves fast, and some of the stuff in there isn’t quite applicable.  That’s why there haven’t been any new books (or even new editions).  Supposedly, websites were supposed to take the place of these new books, giving us more up-to-date information.  To some extent, that’s true, as there are some good things to find online, however, Chris Gore’s Ultimatefilmfest.com (advertised in his book) isn’t there anymore, for one.  Christopher Holland’s Filmfestivalsecrets.com is still up, but I have no idea how long it’s been since it was last updated.

One of the problems I’ve found is that most of the information out there is directed towards people making feature films, and especially narrative feature films.  I made an experimental documentary short, and while the information I found was still applicable, it wasn’t directed at me.  So then, why write books, articles, etc toward helping people that have made a few shorts and are on to their first feature?  Why let people struggle through film festivals with a short and then give them information for taking their feature to festivals?

Here are some articles that I’ve found informative:

http://justshutupandshoot.blogspot.com/2013/12/my-definitive-list-o-recommended-film.html

http://therumpus.net/2016/05/the-great-film-festival-swindle/

https://stephenfollows.com/what-film-festival-directors-really-think/

http://reelplan.com/2016/06/01/the-other-sides-truths-about-film-festival-submission-fees/

http://www.raindance.org/worlds-top-short-film-festivals/

http://www.indiewire.com/2014/10/attention-filmmakers-heres-everything-you-need-to-know-about-film-festivals-68857/

http://www.moviemaker.com/archives/best_of/50-film-festivals-worth-the-entry-fee-2016/

A few of those websites have lots of past articles about festivals and have proven useful.

Part Two | Part Three

New framerate for the Kodak super 8 camera

Well, since January when the camera was first announced, they’ve managed to make at least one improvement…sort of…I just happened to be browsing Kodak’s super 8 site and noticed it.

Instead of speeds of 9, 12, 18, 24, and 25fps (as originally announced), it will now have 18, 24, 25, and 36fps.  We’re getting slow motion, is the “glass half full” reading.  Of course we’re also losing the two lowest framerates, so there are actually less options now.  Will there be firmware updates in the future to add more framerates?  What about single frame speed, and timelapse?  While it’s a step in the right direction, I don’t understand why Kodak doesn’t work more toward making all other super 8 cameras obsolete.  Here are a list of features cameras had 35 years ago that make them still desirable:
-single frame advance and timelapse features (already mentioned)
-72fps
-constantly variable framerate
-variable shutter angle
-physical, manipulable buttons and dials
-optical viewfinder

I suppose those last two are in some ways considered outdated, but it seems to me that without them, it’ll be like the difference between shooting a modern DSLR and my old Spotmatic.  And I know which way I’d prefer to work.  We also still don’t know how quiet the camera will end up being.  Will we be able to shoot sync sound without requiring a blimp of some sort?  Will that be another accessory, like the handgrip?

Another thing on the wish list for me?  New lenses.  I want an American-made Kodak Cine-Ektar 12.5mm f/0.95 macro lens in C-mount.  And I don’t want to spend more than $700 for it.  Might as well dream big, hmmm?

The Lights of Seven Falls

Video

Last summer, some friends gave me their old camera. It was a Minolta X-700 with a 50mm f/1.4 lens. With that camera and a few rolls of film I had in my fridge, I made this.

I feel truly blessed that people bring me things I can use. I’ve been given six cameras, and bought several more over the last few years, none of them costing more than a couple good SD cards.

While it frustrates me to no end that it seems like no one cares about shooting film anymore, I’m happy that I can provide a recycling service for people looking to offload (what to them is) junk. If you are thinking of getting rid of something like an old camera, please don’t just toss it – if nothing else you could donate it to your local thrift store, but ask around first, because someone you know might appreciate and use it.