Saturday, May 5, 2012

Get Over It - Get To Work

Thursday, we had our pre-festival orientation meeting with as many filmmakers participating in the festival as possible. Typically, we crammed thirty minutes of work into a little over an hour and a half. Amazing how that happens.

After the meeting, our core group of volunteers snuck away for the traditional drinks and dinner.  We raised our glasses in a toast to the films we love that did not get into the festival this year. There are always more good movies than we have slots to fill, so sadly, we have to say good-bye to some fantastic films.

I thought of Italian dancers and Broadway cops. I thought of a guy hanging out in a men's room, and a mother and son who would see that as luxury. I thought of good performances in not-quite-so-good stories. I thought of all the people who put their blood, sweat and tears into someone else's dream – the cast and crews of all those indie films. Cheers to all of you.

There are also a slew of films that are ready for the shelf. Projects where those involved should take from them the lessons they've learned and put into them nothing more. Any good artist knows what I'm talking about: the scripts in a drawer, the novels in a trunk, the canvases ready to be painted over. In my case, the 35mm can in my garage. Cheers to the projects on the shelf as well.

And onto the next!

That could be your 2-Minute 2-Step entry!

We scouted the space for this year's 2-step and I think it might be the best yet. One of our Sponsors, the Renaissance Hotel, which is just ... 2 steps ... away from the front door of the Chinese Theatres, has graciously given us a conference room. This is the closest space to a sound stage we've ever had. High ceilings, a big empty space, plenty of power – and near enough to the theatre for us to put the edit bay in the lobby. Yes, that's right, you'll be finishing your movie in front of a live audience. We've done this before, and it's a blast!

So, if you are one of the filmmakers waiting to hear from us, you will soon – but, sadly, it won't be good news. You can wallow in your sorrow, or you can...

...Get over it, and get to work.


Ray Robison said...

I appreciate your attitude Robert. I hate those sympathetic rejection e-mails that assume I'm devastated by not getting in their festival. I'm in it for the journey and I love it. I know that I won't get in to every festival I enter. Since my first feature screened at DWF 6 years ago I've had 40 acceptances and about 80 rejections and in my opinion I'm doing great. I had one of my shorts rejected by my local hometown festival only to see it win BEST SHORT at another well established festival. My passion is making movies. Festivals are a plus but not why I create. Enough said. Time to get to work.

Anonymous said...

So I guess the selections are over with, which is cool. But at least a rejection letter would have been truly appreciated instead of not being informed at all and checking and viewing the website and Facebook page very five minutes.

WNM said...

Well, if you don't receive a phone call close to the cut-off point you really do not need to keep checking on the web....

Personally, I am not devastated by not getting into any festival. I like my film, others seem to like it and I think it has some genre commercial appeal. That's not to say it doesn't have challenges because I'm a first time director working on a very small budget.

I have enough confidence to 4-wall it on my own even if it doesn't make it into any festivals. While the exposure would be great, it's not the end of the world.

You finish something just to prove you can keep your goal and finish it. No shame in that, especially with a film where independent film makers have to "Build a mountain"
totally by themselves.

If it's difficult for people with real money to make a good film, it's a miracle for those of us with tight budgets to make an OK film.

I wish the DWF festival and the film makers the very best.

RSMellette said...

There is no good way to give bad news.

We do send out pass letters as an official notification - and I'm told an invitation went out to a film after I posted this article. I thought that might happened, but figured no one would mind a happy surprise.

I know that many filmmakers jockey with other festivals about who will get their world premiere and those negociations can come down to the wire, so I thought it would be better to let everyone know the Big Beautiful Woman was singing in Los Angeles and the sound might take a while to reach them.

We actually personalize each pass letter, and that can take time - whch some don't have.

If you have been following this blog all year, you know that I only drop enough hints to identify a which movie I'm talking about when I have something exceptionally nice to say. To those filmmakers I've given a shout out here, I wanted them to know how much we loved their work, and how hard it is on us not to share it in the festival.

Ray - nice to see you again. You've always had the right attitude for this business.

WNM - you seem to as well. We all have to make sure we steer clear of bitterness. It can not only kill a career - it's not so great on your actual health, either.

Good luck everyone - in, and out, of the festival.

rob fenton said...

You guys are always talking about professionalism, I understand. But from where the rest of us are, making a blog post saying to us basically: 'you failed, get over it..' is a little insulting considering you guys havent been polite enough to even actually send pass letters, as you claim you will.
Call yourselves professionals by all means, but this post inherently shows otherwise.

RSMellette said...

I'm sorry you feel that way.

By "that way" I mean, we don't feel that movies that don't get into DWF have "failed" at all. I hope that's not the way you feel.

Anonymous said...

Will you give criticisms in the pass letters? BTW just started next film, looking to get accepted next year!

RSMellette said...

That's the way to do it. Look through this year's blog to try and avoid the pit falls so many don't.

We give a very brief, very positive criticism of each film.

I look forward to seeing your submission next year, and everyone's 2-Minute 2-Step script this year.

WNM said...


I'm a big fan of horror, documentary film and narratives (provided it's real).
The important thing for me is to make the type of movie I would want to watch. If I walked up to a Redbox and read the blurb about the film, I would rent it because it's unique. Criticisms about the technical orchestration aside (that's another matter).

If you've done that, you should be happy no matter what.

MikeySommers said...

I am confused. I have received zero notification whether my music video was accepted or not. I have not received a pass, or acceptance email, call, pidgeon or telegram. So what does that mean?

RSMellette said...

Our pass letters (e-mails) haven't gone out yet, but they will this week. They take time to review before sending. So if you haven't heard anything then there's a good chance you will receive a pass notification soon. Knowing that ahead of time helps filmmakers who might be under consideration by other festivals.

Anonymous said...

Mikey, from what Robert has explained on other parts of this blog, they get hundreds of films and send out custom "pass" letters with constructive criticism of each of them. This is super time-consuming. Most festivals don't send any response at all if your film doesn't get in. Your experience likely means you didn't get in and the pass letter will come as soon as they get to it. At least that's what Robert has expressed before. They wait as long as they can too, because spots become open even up to the last minute. Hope that helps.


Anonymous said...

Sorry, Robert, didn't see you had already posted a response.


RSMellette said...

No worries, Brad. I love when that happens! Glad to see the message is getting through.

BARMY said...

Thank you Robert for a great programming season this year, and keeping us all up to date. We'll look forward to submitting our next project next year!

Anonymous said...

I don't need positive feedback in a pass letter. I'd much prefer the reasoning behind it's denial into the festival.

RSMellette said...

Thanks, Barmy. I look forward to that.

For those looking into more reasoning behind why we couldn't find a spot for your film, there are a couple of options. First, read through this blog dating back to January. You might recognize some of the common issues we see in your film. If that doesn't help, consider if you've had a bunch of screenings already, particularly in California - not just Los Angeles. Orange County counts as California, too. If that doesn't help, then ask us. We might not get around to an answer right away - probably not until after the festival - but if you're nice, we'll be nice back.

Anonymous said...

I got a disappointing pass letter. And I honestly don't feel any of those things happened, can I email and perhaps get a response from you guys?

RSMellette said...


We might not get back to you overnight - but we will eventually.