Film fest rant.

Mar 10 2011    

after screening of "American Homes"

I was at film festival Cinequest this week and it was great. I was supporting a film I made with a friend, American Homes. Cinequest really understands that one of the best parts of a festival is meeting other filmmakers and interested parties. I didn’t know that until this event. The projections were also great, and strangely, I liked every short in our program. It reminded me of some of the messed up realities of most festivals.

1. Many festivals really drop the ball on actually SHOWING the films. The picture is washed out. They show the weird countdown/logo put on by the transfer company who copied the tape. The sound is bad. The sound is REALLY bad. more often than not, they botch the projection. And, hello! the filmmakers are in the audience! Its a film fest- people actually care!

2. This might be difficult to avoid, but the shorts programs usually have a lot of terrible films in them. If someone likes more than half, its a triumph.

3. Almost every festival still requires film or tape to project. Almost every film is digital at the end of its production. At the end, if they have the budget, the filmmakers can have it transferred to film. But, the digital file is the height of quality for most films. Making a tapes is expensive ($150+ each) and time consuming (Often two trips to transfer facility, which hopefully is not a day’s drive). Tapes have countdowns and such that you don’t want shown. They get lost in the mail. They are ridiculous! For shorts at least, the file could fit on a data dvd and be played from a computer. It would be much easier for everyone, and once set up, more foolproof for the fools who often project the films.

4. The entering process is a bit of a timewaster scam for short films. Imagine you are a student who spends a year making your animated short, or a hopeful director who mortgaged his house making a short. Now you have to spend weeks, months entering 20-40+ festivals paying $35-$55 each for the opportunity to have your film considered for the fest where they will screen it without paying you anything. And really, many of the films chosen are not from the ones entered, but by films the festival programmer saw at another fest, or from their circle of filmmaker friends. The computerized system of without-a-box has helped cut down on the need to fill in paperwork over and over for all the fests, but it hasn’t cut down on the cost. And you often still have to mail in 2 dvds to each festival. What a waste. I don’t think anyone is getting rich with this system, but its VERY annoying.

5. We can see films on the internet. Especially shorts. But festivals shouldn’t care much, it still doesn’t replace seeing the films in a dark room with others, and meeting the filmmakers afterwords. In fact, its driving more interest in shorts, and possibly more people into the festivals? Im not sure, but this could be acknowledged and appreciated.