Monday, March 11, 2013

Home With A Cold

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 the storytelling.

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, not less. 

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.

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