Re: festival responses

From: Patrick Friel (email suppressed)
Date: Wed Jun 03 2009 - 19:56:03 PDT

Dear Caryn (and others),

I am the programmer for the Onion City Experimental Film and Video Festival
here in Chicago. My policy has always been to notify everyone whether they
get in or not. I believe that is something every festival should do.

It is the worst part of the job ­ I hate sending out bad news. And not just
because of the very few nasty responses (Iıve had a couple doozies ­ one
person ­ who I wonıt name ­ called me a ³fucking moron.² Needless to say
that person will NEVER get shown now, even if they were to send something
better than TEXT OF LIGHT or SERENE VELOCITY. But Iıve also had many very
kind responses from filmmakers who were not accepted.) but because I know
the time, and energy, and effort most film/video makers put into their work.
Most of my friends are filmmakers (and Iıve had to send ³rejection² letters
to a fair number of them, too).

The number of entries (over 600 in our case) precludes being able to offer
feedback or personalized responses to everyone. I necessarily have to send
out a ³form letter² to those who donıt get accepted, but I do take the extra
step of including their name in the salutation (Dear Frank, instead of Dear
Entrant). It probably does not mean much, but itıs at least one small
gesture I can make. (I could probably do this in some automated way, but
that feels like cheating).

In a few cases I do send personal emails or include personal notes with the
³form letter² - usually to filmmakers I know or whose work Iıve previously
shown. But, again, time constraints prevent me from doing this for as many
makers as I would like.

I have had the case where filmmakers donıt seem to get their notifications.
Some probably go into a spam folder. I have no way of knowing unless the
email bounces back. Iım seeing how I can try to notify one filmmaker this
year whose email address was illegible.

Generally it is a bad idea for film programmers or curators to offer
unsolicited comments on someoneıs work. There are exceptions, of course, but
usually it is unproductive or unwelcome. Letting a filmmaker know that their
work was really good but not appropriate for the festival (I seem to get
many good and interesting documentaries submitted, even though itıs an
experimental festival) and suggesting other possible opportunities in the
particular city or elsewhere seems to be a reasonable thing.

Onion City has the benefit of being presented by Chicago Filmmakers, which
has a year-round weekly screening series. Frequently I would be able to
include work I liked that did not make it into the festival in the weekly
shows. Now that Iım no longer Program Director at Chicago Filmmakers I make
recommendations from this pool of work.

In short, filmmakers deserve and should expect a notification if they donıt
get in and should raise a polite stink if they donıt receive one.


Patrick Friel

On 6/3/09 7:01 AM, "Caryn Cline" <email suppressed> wrote:

> Dear Frameworkers, 
> Iım submitting my experimental films to festivals again, after a hiatus of
> several years.  When I submitted before, in the early 2000s, I always received
> a response from the festival, whether my work was accepted or rejected.  Now,
> I find that festivals that reject my work rarely contact me at all. 
> I wonder why this is the case?  Iıve paid a fee to enter, usually, and it
> seems to me that the very least the programmers, or their interns, can do is
> to send me a form letter letting me know that my work didnıt make the cut.  It
> would be even better to receive a thoughtful response with some feedback about
> my work.  I realize that programmers often have a lot of entries to view and
> judge, but shouldnıt a response, even a canned response, to each and every
> filmmaker, be a standard of professional courtesy? 
> I know that there are curators and programmers on this list.  I will
> appreciate hearing their perspectives, as well as those of other filmmakers. 
> I would also be interested to hear about festivals that do respond to all
> applicants. 
> Thank you,
> Caryn Cline
> New York City
> __________________________________________________________________ For info on
> FrameWorks, contact Pip Chodorov at <email suppressed>.

For info on FrameWorks, contact Pip Chodorov at <email suppressed>.