We're two weeks out from the festival and the challenge is on. Move over Donald Trump, this ain't no game show. It's the real deal.
Filmmakers are faced with two tasks at any Los Angeles festival. They have to fill the house, and they have to get the Industry to take notice of them.
But really, that's just one job. Of the films that have had the most success after their Dances With Films screening, almost all of them played to overflowing houses.
Think about it. An acquisitions executive sits in an empty theatre to watch a movie with no big names. Eh.
Same executive has to push his or her way through a crowd to find the filmmaker to make sure there's a seat available.
Both movies may be of the same subjective quality. In fact, some might argue that the movie playing to an empty house could be "better than" (whatever that means) the full house, but it is the acquisition exec's job to find movies that people will come out to see.
Filmmakers are artists, yes. They are part of the performing arts, which means they are show people. Your festival screening is a show. It's a show in the theatre and a show in the lobby. As the leader of this show you have to tap into your inner P.T. Barnum.
You have to figure out what is special about your film – above and beyond the thousands of things to do in Los Angeles at the same time as your movie. Then you have to figure out a way to tell the people who might be into your show that it's happening.
None of that is easy.
The only advice I can give is that Los Angeles is a different animal. You tell her you're screening a movie and it's special and great and she needs to get off her couch, or off the beach, or down from the mountains, or whatever to come out and see this amazing event, and she will say, "Hey, that's nice. It looks great. Good for you."
"Are you going to come?"
"No, but ... good for you."
On the plus side, there are over ten million people in the area. If you can find a way to talk to the percentage of the whole that will get off their butts and come to your show, then you're set.
And while you're at it, don't forget to invite an executive or two.
Good luck. Thanks for reading.