I was just about to pack it in for the night, when I had an inclination to see if I had any more responses to my 'Rejection from the SXSW Film Festival Blog.' And I am sure you can guess...I had a response that kind of blew me away. So much so, that I have to reprint here for you to read.
Blog Reader 'Genevieve' took the time to write out this full response to my post. (Genevieve, thank you! Your reply is dead on. And you know what. Since you started the dialogue with me. At the next opportunity, I will begin sharing some of my ideas for what I am doing and what I am going to do in an attempt to have as many people see my film as possible.)
My filmmaking partner is reading over my shoulder and his comment was, "Did we write that?"
We feel the same way. Our ultimate goal was SXSW because we shot in Texas. But we shot a short and hoped that even though we didn't have a top tier budget or big name cast, we could somehow slip in.
What hits me is that the festival circuit is becoming like American Idol. How so, you say? Well, when American Idol began, it was about discovering talent in the rough - finding amazing singers who would never have broken in or had a chance without the show. The last few seasons, however, the show has been planting its own contestants - singers who already have had deals with major labels, who have already released albums with million-dollar marketing budgets. This season, one of those passed through to Hollywood was Joanna Paccitti, a name I recognized because, as a teenage girl, I owned the Legally Blonde Soundtrack. Joanna has released two albums, and had her songs on four different film soundtracks - is she really that "undiscovered?" No. American Idol is no longer about discovering talent, but about marketing the talent they already have.
My point is, the features that get in to these festivals? They aren't really indie anymore. They have B or above level actors, they have directors with recognizable names, and they are getting million dollar funding from the big studios, just under the guise of "Searchlight," or "Focus," or whatever. They are studio films, trying to reach a niche market, and using the festivals as a marketing tool. And the fests, because they want high profile films, allow it.
So, what's a true indie to do? Who knows. Keep trying, maybe, hope that you somehow stand out despite having real funding or a big name? Or maybe we retreat and try a different tactic. The internet, for example. We can provide e-movies, similar to eBooks. Maybe if you get Netflix a bunch of professional looking DVDs, they will agree to list your film as available to rent ... there's got to be something.