Monday, April 22, 2013

Where We @?

This is always one of the most of exhausting times for any film festival.  Our final programmers have spent the last week re-watching and discussing every single entry.  Granted, some of those are short conversations that range from: "Loved it, invite them," to a simple, "No."  A film has to have between three and five flat out no's to drop off the list that quickly, so it's not just one opinion.

The tough decisions come when we get down to the available screen times vs. the number of good films.  There are always more good movies than time to show them – even with our new, longer, schedule.  So if you don't get in, but other serious people tell you your movie is top quality, they aren't lying.  Keep up the good work.

We've been e-mailing back and forth between many of you, and some – I stress SOME – invitations for year 16 have gone out, mostly for short films.  We are about halfway done with choosing the shorts, and probably a third of the way on the features. 

If you have screened in the LA area already, you might well receive our heartfelt congratulations and well-wishes, and we mean it.  Does it piss us off when we've worked so hard to find the best-of-the-best, only to have them premiere at smaller festival?  Sure, a little.  We're human.  But we know each filmmaker has to find their own way.  If you've had your shot at The Big Nipple – as Milos Forman called Hollywood – then we might give another filmmaker a shot at it.

Then again, we might like your movie so much that it overcomes all obstacles.  These aren't laws, folks, they are guidelines.  Some people have a big problem with that.  Understood.  It's not fair.  Life's not fair.  If you're looking to make it so, then you've chosen the wrong profession.
What does that mean if you have not heard from us?  First, check your spam filter.  There are a couple of films that haven't responded to our e-mails.
I always get grief for this, but I want to help you make the right decisions.  If you submitted before the regular deadline, and you got your "we have received..." e-mail, but haven't heard anything since, it's not looking good.  Ouch.  I know.  I say this now in case you get an offer from another festival.  You'll probably want to take that right away. 
If you did not get a "we have received..." letter around the time you submitted, then check your spam filter. If it's not there, then something is wrong with the e-mail we have on file for you.  Contact us!
If you got a second round letter, then you are still under consideration.  If you get an invitation from another festival, do exactly what a filmmaker did this weekend.  CONTACT US.  If it's one of the two festivals in LA that have higher industry exposure than we do, we'll be bummed, but happy for you.  If you're hanging on the lower edge of our consideration list, we'll hint that you might want to take the bird-in-the-hand.  If you're strongly in the running, we'll tell you'd be crazy to premiere anywhere else.
By-the-way, the filmmaker that did the right thing in all the right ways, is in.  Congrats.  Others that tried to hedge their bets... we're still considering. 
For those that have gotten invitations and are holding onto the news for our official announcement, thanks!  I know it feels like you're going to explode, but you won't.  It's all good.
Finally, to answer the question we always get, we do send pass letters.  You will be notified.  And, FYI, everyone who entered is entitled to 2 free tickets to a DWF screening of their choice.  So come on down.
Good luck everyone.


Anonymous said...

Here's a question for you: you mentioned that if we had received a second round letter from DWF, we're still in consideration.

I had received that - and then a third round letter. I'm assuming those that received third round letters are still under consideration as well? That sounds obvious when I type it out, but forgive me because I'm waiting and hoping and wondering, worrying that my email wasn't functioning properly for an hour, hoping emails didn't get lost in that process, and generally being entirely irrational.

Btw, the only reason I posted this anonymously is that I didn't want to look like I was bragging for getting a third round letter. And I really appreciate you blogging about this stuff so we can have a look inside the process.

RSMellette said...

You are absolutely correct. I should have said, "if you're gotten a second round letter, or higher." The main point is, there are still slots to fill, so don't panic one way or the other.

And thanks for the nice words about the blog. We've all been where you are now. We can't make it pain free, but we can try to make it as pleasant as possible.

Good luck.

Chris Hansen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Chris Hansen said...

Very helpful information - thanks!

Anonymous said...

It is indeed very helpful to read this stuff. I have found the process much more open with DWF. Knowing my film was liked well enough to reach the 2nd round and then the 3rd is comforting. More than that, it's helpful that there just wasn't this big blob of silence for months.

And you can tell I'm being honest because I'm not using my name here - I get nothing from saying this (not that I would get any help for my film by being complimentary, of course - but you know what I'm saying).

So yes, keep the process as open as you reasonably can. You're a filmmaker, so clearly you understand.

Baxter S said...

First, I want to concur with all the above,
you blogging about the process is not only great from a "how things work" standpoint,
but is also so nice to know where you stand along the way.

With other fests I have submitted to (i won't name names),
they have absolutely no notice, no updates, nada.
I understand the overwhelming amount of work it takes to run a festival, but some kind of update goes a long way.

That being said, you guys sending notices, blogging, etc, is very much appreciated.
I know it is extra work among the sea of films coming in, screenings, scheduling, etc, etc.
So long story short. Thanks. The work is much appreciated.

Anonymous said...

Question, is it safe to if I did not get a third round email I am out of contention for DWF shorts?

Regardless, DWF, best film festival I've submitted to and corresponded with.

RSMellette said...

Every year I post about this process, and every year someone asks this question, so thank you for not disappointing me.

"If you got a second round letter, then you are still under consideration."

There is a period at the end of that sentence, so no exceptions for shorts, features, etc.

And, congratulations for making it this far.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the info Mr. Mellette. I love the nuts and bolts approach DWF takes!

Anonymous said...

Robert, I guess the reason you get That question every year is because folk are wondering why some qualify for a 3rd round email, and some only get the 2nd round notice.

I'm betting the answer is as plain as you've said it was, and as plain as the emails - those who received a 3rd round notice progressed to a 3rd round of active consideration, while those who didn't are either still to be assessed, or didn't progress but are in a holding pattern in case "something comes up" (crazy stuff no doubt happens every day in scheduling a film fest).

I agree with the others - DWF's transparency is great. Though I've not had the honor to play DWF, I hold it in high regard because of the support and consideration shown for filmmakers. It really is in a league of its own. Keep it up guys - it is greatly appreciated.

RSMellette said...

It's really a matter of qualifying or progressing in some organized manner. This isn't gymnastics.

Sometimes a film we absolutely love will skip the 3rd round letter. Sometimes with a film we're not sure about we'll send a 3rd round letter just to see how they reply.

And, we have some films - mostly final deadline feature films - that haven't gotten a letter at all. I just watched one this weekend that could be favorite movie of the year, and we haven't sent them any kind of letter at all.

So what I'm saying is, "don't go."

Anonymous said...

If last shorts were viewed 2 weeks ago and I got a third round letter for my short and now its gone all quiet when do I get put out of my misery with a PASS letter.

No longer enjoying the wait.

RSMellette said...

That's a tough one... The good news is, you've obviously made a good film. The bad news is, we only have so much time to show all of the good ones. We are still working to squeeze them all in, so hang in there. Believe me, we have all been there. We are pulling for you.

Anonymous said...


YES YES YES NO is worse than NO.


Anonymous said...

As someone who didn't even make it to the second round, I STRONGLY disagree with that.

RSMellette said...

They each have their own special, horrible, qualities.