Tuesday, September 15, 2009

With Rejection Comes Fuel

I probably shouldn't write this latest blog. I have been advised against writing about any more film festival rejections. And you know what? In this instance, I do not care. This blog is an opportunity for me to get my feelings out and at the same time provide you a glimpse into my world.

This latest rejection stings a little too much for me not to write about it. And if you are reading this and you begin to believe that my film must not be any good, then so be it.

This latest rejection causes my thoughts to race in various directions. My first thoughts are to question my talents and my film. Maybe it just isn't that good. That is despite it's sold-out world premiere and enthusiastic audience. Maybe those around me prefer to lie to me rather than tell me the truth?

I could be delusional.

My thoughts then drift to whether my film is a film festival film? This I am not so sure of. Whether it is or it isn't, I believe it is worthy. I expect acceptances, not rejections.

Then I begin to remind myself of why I am not actively pursuing the festival route. Getting into a few more festivals would be a wonderful bonus, but it is not a top priority for me. Though I suspect that NBTW will play its share of festivals before it is all said and done.

I would like to be higher on the festival circuit, but as I talk with more and more filmmakers I learn that it is not a battle I really am going to invest in. So far, the festivals have shown that they do not need me. So I must show that I can move forward without them. Eventually our worlds may merge or I may just discover a brighter path on my own.

I am not bitter about this. I have just come to learn about the realities of film festivals. There are certain facts that we filmmakers must face when it comes to festivals. One is that your film may never even get put in a DVD player. This is a more common occurrence than you may think. Another fact is that those connected to festivals are the ones being accepted. I can tell you almost every filmmaker I speak to about their festival premiere tells me that they knew the festival organizers. By the way, I am no exception, it is true in my case as well. The bottom line is the percentage of 'cold' feature submissions that get into festivals, especially the larger ones, is extremely tiny and in many cases, 5 percent or less. If you disagree with me, I would love to hear your argument.

Other thoughts that go through my mind have to do with marketing and promotion. Anytime a festival rejects me, I think about all the promotion I would have done to push the screening and the festival. I view it as a loss for the festival. Though, as I mentioned, these festivals are doing fine without me.

Believe it or not, buried underneath this rejection is great news. The wonderful news actually came before the rejection. For those of you who follow NBTW on Facebook, you are already aware that very soon we will be announcing details of our first screening outside of Los Angeles. The film will screen in Ohio in October. I send a big thank you to Angie Palmer of Skye Public Relations for arranging this upcoming screening.

Also I am gearing up for my second feature film entitled Goodbye Promise. So I will not be pushing one film, I will be pushing two. My hope is that the two films will feed off of one another and together they will help me expand my fan base.

Lastly I just want to give a quick shout out to Filmmaker Jamin Winans who I had the great privilege to hook up with on his visit to Los Angeles this past Friday night. He was in town, in celebration of his film INK receiving a theatrical run in LA courtesy of the Sunset Laemmle 5. Congrats Jamin and Kiowa and your whole team behind INK. You have certainly earned it.


theeditorpro said...

Keep the faith bro. Use the negative as an opportunity to learn, enhance, and augment your skills. Your strategy and determination should only strengthen from all this. It definitely helps to have an honest evaluation of yourself, because then from that you are able to grow. "Calm seas do not a good sailor make." Be resilient. You can do it!


Double Edge Films said...

We could go on for days and days about festivals but you have to remember that the quality of your film is not measured by the number of festivals you get into. This is a huge area where filmmakers fall down and feel bad about their projects - don't give into it. You are exactly right in that likely a good deal of films don't even get watched and it's often a "I know someone" game.

We're in a new time where you can pretty much bypass the festival circuit all together if you're willing to put in the hard work to get your own theatrical screenings. If there are some festivals out there that want to show your film, then of course you send it in because the end goal is having the film get watched. Just keep in mind that it is possible to bypass all of the "gatekeepers" in this business and go direct to the audience. Emerging film clubs like the Annapolis Pretentious Film Society and others are also coming onto the scene. My point is - there are so many other options out there these days so don't spend two minutes feeling bad about festivals!

CFalls said...

Getting into the festivals and getting a distributor is not our goal, it's getting people to watch the movie via theatre, DVD or download.
Also, It's not so good to be a festival-type film.  Look at any Sundance schedule and tell me how many movies you've heard of. 
There are two main benefits to festivals--getting audience feedback (and it's really tough to get honest feedback vs polite comments), and having a fun ego boost. Both are nice but don't serve the ultimate goal.
Didn't get into bigger ones? Fine. Screen at smaller ones, get your quotable comments, awards if you're lucky, then move on and get to your audience. 

Anonymous said...

I have a video link here about my opinion about festivals, so will be brief. Especially when DoubleEdgeFilms nailed it with their comment

I have only been to a few festivals, but I learn fast. Its about standing back from the traditional and looking at the wide picture of why festivals started, why theatrical started.

We are in an AMAZING world now where we have DIRECT access to our demographics. I should not even have to say this but so many people are sleeping.

We have the platforms, we have the marketing via social media, affiliates, it all comes down to one thing about getting our work seen. GRAFT! Hard work targetting our audience directly.

Letting ourselves fly off that cliff without running to the industry to help us. And they don't really help us, they are abusers!

In a way, filmmaker remind me of an abused victim, who has been abused for so long, that we constantly go back for another dose of abuse! We are so used to it.

We really are FREE!! But this is the thing! I think when the dust settles, reality sets in, most will realise that "This is bloody hard work!" I am an artist, artists don't do biz work! You do now or you die!

Its only my opinion, but my brain calculates we don't need festivals! Target our potential fans direct. It will take time, but think how amazing it could be to have thousands of fans in a few short years


Joseph F. Alexandre said...

In my experience, it just seems the better the film, the more screenings and opportunities it gets. Of course, there are exceptions, I mean how many dreadful festival films have we suffered thru and visa versa, films that don't get in a ton of fests that are very impressive...

The bottom line is programmers want to show good films because it makes them look good. Yes, it's a real racket and highly politicized but some how really good films seem to get out there. And, being in LA, how many times have we all suffered thru a packed house sceening set up by the filmmakers that was pretty bad and yet everybody smiled and said great job. I'm not saying it's the case w/ David's film cause I haven't seen it and it may be a masterpiece. But I do know filmmakers can easily delude themselves that their work is better than it is.

As far as exposure goes for Indies, get your film out there anyway you can: festivals, self organized screenings, online, downloads etc.