Our late deadline is March 30th, which is tomorrow as I write this.
That means on our end we've got to get down to decision making. On your end, it's time for the worst part of the wait. Believe me, I understand how hard the waiting is. I'm not only a filmmaker, but also a novelist. Glaciers move like jack rabbits compared to literary agents and publishers, and the higher up the food chain you go, the harder the waiting gets. It really, really sucks – but cheer up, it's about to get worse.
If you flip though the archived comments of my blog to about this time last year, you'll see that a few people got very upset with me the closer we came to announcing our final screening list. I'm sure that will happen again this year, as some folks can never be pleased, but in an effort to keep you all in the loop I thought I'd give you an outline of how things go from here.
Right now we still have features and shorts that have yet to be screened. Keep that in mind, I'll remind you about it later.
Over the next week we expect a flood of entries from the procrastinator set. It never ceases to amaze me how people insist on paying twice the amount of money for the same thing. A little inside information: Without a Box, the festival submission service, requires that we have this late deadline, which is actually well past our comfort zone. Consequently, we jack the price up to what we think is an equally uncomfortable level – and yet, every year we get submitters who'll pay it. Go figure.
So, with movies yet to be screened and the expectation of more submissions, we're under the gun. At the same time, there are movies we've already seen that we know we like. These have been sent an e-mail saying something about a second round, blah, blah, blah. We do this for two reasons:
- Screening history update since you've submitted. Did you get into the LA Film Festival? Great! Good for you! Good exposure. We'll give your DWF slot to another deserving film.
- To give you a heads up so you can plan your festival strategy.
That second one is tricky. Every year we have more good films than we do screening slots. Getting that second round notice means you've got a film to be proud of. It means someone like me is in your corner fighting to make sure you get one of those slots, but it's not a guarantee of anything. So say we've reached out to you and another California festival wants you in. Get in touch with us. You might have a bird in the hand with the other festival, but the two in the bush are singing at you. Is it a tough decision, yes. The kind of tough decisions you want to have to make throughout your career.
Now is the time I remind those filmmakers who have not gotten such an e-mail that we still have movies in the bins we haven't screened. So the answer to your "what does it mean if I haven't gotten a second round notice?" question is... well, you can figure it out. I will add that when screening, we pick the movies out pretty much at random, so yours might be the first movie submitted, but the last one screened.
As we move forward in time the fat lady starts warming up, but she does not sing until our final list is announced, and our pass letters have gone out. Why is this? Films drop out, last minute decisions have to be made, screening times change, a brilliant programming idea might shake things up, etc. Last year filmmakers complained on this blog about how we were slipping information out when they hadn't heard anything. In fact, we had slots still open. And FYI, if your film is on the bubble, pissing off the festival directors is a great way to make their decision an easy one... POP!
But not to worry. In over ten years of doing this, I've learned that good films are made by good people. In nearly every single case, the people who complain irrationally have made the worst movies. Rational complaints are another matter.
Good luck to everyone, and thanks for reading.