I missed this week's screening. What can I say? I have that same bug that's going around. It happens.
So what do we do when a key player can't make the shorts
screenings? The answer lies in how we
approach the entire selection process.
All movies are screened by at least three people. Most of these folks are alumni; filmmakers
who know what it is to have struggled so hard to turn one's imagination into
something tangible. Other screeners are
just people who like movies. The logic
being, there should be no prerequisite for an audience member to enjoy or not
enjoy a film. Whether you're doing
Samuel Becket-style absurdist theatrics, USC Film School Space Adventures, or a
David O. Russell character study, the experience of the viewer – beyond speaking
the same language of the film or subtitles – is not relevant to the success of
Often screeners' notes from features will come back, "I
think this is a good movie, but it's not my favorite genre, so someone else
should look at it." So we do. We all want to see movies we like, and since
many of us have been doing this for a while, we've learned each other's
taste. Often a film will be handed to an
experienced screener with, "no else has liked this movie yet, but you seem
to enjoy this style, so you should take a look at it."
Believe it or not, we're fighting hard to get your movies
into the festival.
For short films, all three (or more) screeners watch
together, but our opinions are noted separately. There is no pressure to make your opinion
match everyone else's. In fact, it's
just the opposite. We want more diverse views,
Films that are universally unliked have a hard row to
hoe. Leslee, whose heart is too big to
pass on a movie out of hand, will probably pop it into her machine to confirm
the reviews, but after that, the film will wait to see if by some stretch of
fate someone's "maybe" might be enough to pull it from the depths of
the "thanks for submitting" bin.
Films have come back from the dead many times, which is why we don't
send out pass letters until the entire slate is full. So not all hope is lost.
Since we have two screening rooms running at once, I will
take home the shorts I didn't get to see that have anything better than a failing
grade, and Leslee will more closely watch the films she didn't get to see. Since I missed this week, I'll have two
rooms worth of movies to watch over the week.
I hope you guys have made good ones!
Features are done pretty much the same way, but screeners
take them home. It's fun to hear us talk
at the weekly screenings. "Have you
seen that one?"
"No, not yet."
"Okay, then I won't say anything, but talk to me when
you have, because... I think it got weird and I want to know if it was just me."
All of this is to say; we're watching and talking about your
movies – even when we're home with a cold.
Thanks for reading.