Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Melissa's OTL Advice Corner - Entry #1 Film Festivals

A year and a half ago when Alicia sent me her film festival list I had no idea what film festivals were really about. I had absolutely no clue that they cost money, that some of the festivals are very exclusive and that there is an entire network dedicated to helping people enter their films into hundreds of film festivals all around the globe.

If you are looking into submitting your film into film festivals here are a few tips from a master submitter!

1. Get to know Withoutabox.com! The faster you can navigate yourself through this fantastic website the better. Get your projects set up and once you do you can submit your films to hundreds of film festivals in about 5 minutes. This site will also keep track of your submission history and keep you notified of up and coming deadlines etc.

2. Always make sure that you take the time to read the fine print details of what a festival is looking for. Often times the title alone with give you an idea about what special things each festival is seeking (but some do not). There is nothing worse then sending your hard earned cash along with your film into a festival that is only meant for a special interest group i.e. Spanish Language movies only!

3. Try to get your film submitted during the Early Deadline time slot. Watch the timelines for festivals that you are interested in and try to submit them during their early deadline submission process. Most film festivals will jack up their prices pretty high for Late Deadline submissions. By being early you can save upwards of $30.00 per submission. This will also allow you to submit to more festivals for the same amount of money that you would spend to submit to one festival during the late deadline.

4. Be realistic about the festivals you are submitting to. For example: I made a short film about a bird mascot and beer. I am not going to get into Sundance or Cannes with this type of film. This film is better suited to smaller underground festivals and very specific location festivals. Base your festival selection list on where you feel your film would do the best. You want to get as far as you can with the money you have. If you really, really want to enter your film into Sundance just because, go ahead and do so, but do a little research and find out what other festivals your film would do best at and submit to those as well.

5. Don’t be discouraged if your film does not get into a film festival. Festivals often get thousands of submissions so if you get a rejection letter don’t take it too personally.

Well that about does it for this entry. Check back in with our blog for more advice from Melissa’s OTL Advice Corner!



Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Milestone in Post Production

The short film I wrote and directed, titled, Milestone is very close to being finished. Alicia is furiously editing it and Banana Whale is providing the music, and there’s color correction happening, and foley being added...all sorts of fabulous post-production things are occurring. So, that means it will soon be reaching its finished line; which is thrilling for me!

I’ve been getting asked a lot about what the experience of directing was like and usually I respond with very short answers like ‘I liked it,’ or ‘I learned a lot’, or some sort of something that was positive but general and allowed the person to get on with their life. Lately however, while sitting with Alicia and going through the fine tuning process I’ve realized something... The biggest thing I’ve learned about directing is that the number 1 thing you need to do is surround yourself with people who are both honest and smarter than you. It can be hard to see the forest for the trees when you are listening to your own words and watching performances that you’ve directed. As I expected, there were moments that I would’ve done differently if I had to do it over again and there were lines that, once they moved from the page to the screen were no longer necessary. While I, on my own, could’ve sussed some of these things out, the fact that I had Alicia sitting there with me, offering her thoughts and concerns helped immensely. With her editor’s eye she was able to not only offer suggestions, but was actually able to put those suggestions into the video so I could see them in action. That was amazingly helpful!

So... to all of you newbie directors out there like me... do not operate as a one person show – surround yourself with people that think like you – only better, faster and smarter. You’ll thank me later!