It's funny how objects change depending on our relationship to them.
At the beginning of each season the DVDs are just a pile of meaningless titles. Some have cover art. Most are just homemade DVD's with a title, running time, tracking and contact information, one last desperate note from the filmmaker, etc. making for a mess of multicolored sharpie scribble. This doesn't change much after screening the movies except the titles start to ring a bell.
Then, after watching hundreds of movies over a few months, it comes time to discuss who is in and who's not. We final programmers go through every single title, regardless of its scores, to discuss it. Most often, these conversations start with, "Is that the one about...?" If we can't remember it, we pull out the DVD – which still looks just like all the others – and pop it in the machine.
We don't have to watch the whole thing again, since we've seen it before. This is just a reminder. "Oh, yeah, okay..." I hit eject and the DVD has transformed. The scribbles all mean something now. The key art, if there is any, makes sense. This once-standard DVD has become as unique to me as the people who made it. Myself and a few others now hold a good portion of its Fate in our hands.
Deciding whether it is still in the running, or out until further notice, changes the DVD once again. It now looks like a decision made, or closer to being made – and for us – that's a good thing. We have a lot of those to make in the next week or so. If it's still in the running, the DVD feels lighter, happier. If it has been set aside to hope for an open slot along the way, there is a sadness to it. It almost feels heavier.
For some, we need more information. An e-mail is fired off, and the DVD is put back in the bin it came from. Somewhere in the world its creator has an anxiety attack trying to guess what that request means. I can tell you. It means your once-anonymous DVD is now known by the festival of the unknowns.
Good luck everyone, and if you haven't heard from us, that doesn't mean anything yet. Sometimes we don't get in touch because we know, no matter what, your movie is in. Sometimes we're just waiting to see how things shake out.