Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Official Rejection: Why Film Festivals Suck

Less self referential than a documentary about itself would be: Official Rejection is a new documentary film about the film festical (*1) scene (and why it sucks) I haven't seen the whole film yet, but I'm ordering the dvd as I type this:

Now I could go on at length about how I've come to hate film festivals (and rather quickly since I've only been finished Archon Defender for about 4 months now... I'm a fast learner... it comes with being a solo animator ;)

M dot Strange has a good blog entry about film festivals:

Here's how it goes...

You pay a fee... $50 - $100 for a feature

A) You get rejected AND they are nice enough to keep your money
B) You get accepted THEN they send you a page of EXACT technical specs you must meet so they can screen your film

Example: "We are the Strange" was HD.... so my cheapest full quality option was HDCAM which cost about $1,500.00 for one copy

Now in just under a month (3 weeks actually) since Archon Defender was featured on the front page of YouTube, the film has been viewed over 200,000 times, with 500 feedback comments both good and bad (and of the "complainer" comments, 0 postings of their own solo animated feature films) Not only that, but the first batch of DVD's I sent to sold out already, with a new shipment sent to restock them today.

You just aren't going to get this kind of response from the film festicals. At best you'll be faced with general apathy (from both the festivals and the 'film media') At worst, you'll end up out big cash, selling off the rights to your movie to some distributor who will use fancy accounting tricks to further screw you out of your due, or just sit on your film while it languishes in obscurity.

YouTube has been a fantastic outlet, and I encourage any indie filmmaker, animator, or episodic 'original content creators' to approach them with your project. In terms of building exposure while sharing in ad revenue, you come out ahead on both counts. This is also why I am supporting and their efforts to set up a system for indie filmmakers to screen their movies to their target audience, an audience built online through word of mouth. The future is crowdsourcing, the old models of media monoliths are obsolete.

(*1) Not a typo ;P


Flog said...

Congratulations at selling out on Filmbaby of your first shipment of DVDs.

That is awesome! You should post that on the cgtalk post about ARchon Defender!

I hope in some way I helped get some word of mouth out for your film. :) I loved it and plan to buy it when I get paid.

I'm also going into work on my film.
Here is a link to some of my work!

nodelete said...

Right on, glad to hear you liked the film... Better get your copy of the DVD while they last, I only made so many, so it's limited supply and I don't have plans to make any more.

Good 3D work, I don't use zbrush myself, it's a little high poly for my tastes. Also watch out for nay-sayers who don't want you to succeed at your own project. If you want to make a feature film, just jump straight into it. It helps to have an overall idea of where you are going, and the more you plan ahead the better... But some of those comments on your link sound like complainers who have never made their own film.

R.P. McMurphy said...

I completely agree about going the youtube route. I also would say that Hollywood isn't anywhere near as closed off as the festivals are. I'd wager it's more difficult (much more, in fact) to get into Sundance than it is to get a meeting or to get something you've done that's very commercial (especially a great short) seen at a theater by a few heavyweights or agents, as long as it's being screened near the studios and/or agencies. And to be BRUTALLY honest, I've found that inside studios, television production (I'm an editor at a major cable network), and smaller distributors/financiers, there's much more of a love for film and a want to do some great/interesting work than I've seen from people at festivals. I think festivals have become like high school and are much more of an open arena for people that don't necessarily have any talent yet they get to judge people who do. Getting back to that 'love of film' comment, I should qualify that by saying that they ARE always oriented towards the marketing because... well, because it's a BUSINESS. Which somehow makes more sense to me than film festivals. I don't know WHAT they are and think it's a topsy-turvy world where it's difficult for a filmmaker, even one who is successful (which, on the festival circuit, success is hard to define)to get their feet planted on firm ground. At least if you do something commercial and know that it has to find an audience, you've got a compass... I have to do THIS so they can market it, but within that framework, I get to be creative and original. I'm not even sure what the goal is in going to festivals anymore... it's not as if there are any big successes coming out of them, the distributors are all gone (and I wouldn't pin that ALL on the economy/audience for smaller movies, I'd say part of it has to do with the atrocious films being programmed due to nepotism). Anyway, long story short, I said to hell with festivals and did a web series that was optioned and is now being developed as a television series. Don't want to get too specific, but suffice to say, the entire process so far has been a helluva lot more satisfying than dealing with festivals, especially getting paid and knowing there could be a very BIG payday up over the horizon. And the trailer for this doc looks like they didn't go hard enough on the festivals... I think it's RIDICULOUS what they do and how they do it, yet if you say it, you're branded a whiner. How does that help indie filmgoers again? My advice to anyone is do something like Archon Defender... do animation, do great sci-fi, horror, or comedy, (especially if you can do sci-fi with great FX work) and you WILL get noticed by the big boys. I can promise you WON'T get noticed by the festivals. If you do, it's more like hitting the lottery than hedging your bets by doing something commercial to help your career.