festival responses

From: David Tetzlaff (email suppressed)
Date: Wed Jun 10 2009 - 21:00:50 PDT

Chris wrote:

> The notion that there needs to be feedback in the submission
> process carries
> the danger of the the idea that the filmmaker is somehow an amateur
> (room
> for improvement) or that something went wrong with the film along
> the way
> (too much orange 3 minutes in?).

I must disagree. Most films have DO room for improvement regardless
of the experience level of their makers (in the narrative world, seen
anything Spielberg's done lately?). Things do go terribly wrong.
Several years ago I saw a film by an experienced and well know
experimental maker who was venturing into the 'experimental
documentary' genre. It was excruciatingly bad, and something had
clearly gone very wrong with the conceptualization.

> Do we expect feedback and critique when we've gotten in?

Uh, if not, what's the point of making films? Masturbating when our
work comes on screen in front of viewers we don't care to hear from?
Getting strokes from the programmers who have invested their reps in
selecting our work?

> A simple "you're in" or "you're out", put nicely, is really the
> best way to
> go.

The difference between no response and a response of merely 'no'
doesn't strike me as worth the entry fee times 90%. Getting
'feedback' is not just an opportunity to learn something about one's
film, but about film festivals themselves. There has been an
incredible explosion of festivals, and of submissions. You'd have to
be wealthy to enter everything on Withoutabox that looks kinda
interesting. The programmers want submissions, so they won't tell you
what kind of stuff they don't like. And when you just get a "no" back
you have no idea WHY you wound up in the 90% reject file.

Having recently collaborated on a not-quite-experimental-but-still-
somewhat-unconventional short narrative that has received many
rejections, I am truly flustered by not knowing what standards were
used in making those choices. In the few cases where we did take the
festivals up on their promises of feedback, we received
embarrassingly skimpy telegraphic notes obviously written by
volunteer screeners steeped in the aesthetics of Hollywood narrative.
And yes, one of these festivals has been around forever, and has a
reputation for supporting alternative and experimental work. (Perhaps
works by well-known makers or more clearly identified as experimental
find their ways to more informed and eclectic gatekeepers...). So,
when a film that contains Brechtian interruptions in the form of
intertitles keeps drawing comments like "the text really took me out
of a potentially compelling storyline" I know we're dealing with a
doofus who has never heard of Brecht, never seen Weekend or Tout Va
Bien, and wouldn't last ten minutes trying to watch Riddles of the
Sphinx. And as depressing as that is, in a way, I'd rather know what
we're dealing with than be left in the dark.

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