First, a little business. We're coming up on our first submission deadline, so if you don't want to pay more money for no good reason, finish your films and get them in now.
Our first DVD didn't play. This happens a lot, which is one reason you'll only see us screen a DVD or Blu-ray during the festival in the direst of emergencies. In the case of submissions, we'll try to watch it on another machine. If that doesn't work, we'll contact the filmmaker to supply a replacement. So, if you think this might have been your movie, don't worry. If it was, and we can't watch it, you'll know, and we will.
We had a very good "primitive" film with a tight story and a charming cast. While I didn't agree with the political message in the movie, I gave it a good review. Dances With Films takes no sides when it comes to hot-button issues, as long as the movie is well-made and the story is good.
Next was a Sci-Fi short, which is one of my favorite genres, and one of the hardest to pull off on a tight budget. This one had an interesting way around the budget issue, but the story was hard to follow and wasn't presented in a cinematic fashion.
That film was followed by a wonderfully surreal story with a fantastic cast. The movie both made sense, and didn't at the same time, which is hard to pull off as well as they did. The cast & crew had to have a lot of trust in the filmmaker, and they were well rewarded.
Our next film was bad for so many reasons that lessons can be learned. Its biggest flaw was exposition. Characters constantly told each other things both of them already knew they both knew. We in the audience knew they both knew they knew, so it was clear the writer was having the characters tell each other stuff they know so that we, the audience, can know it, too. But we don't want to be fed information. We want to discover it. Make us guess. Make us beg to know. Make it a mystery so we can play the detective.
This bad film also had a horrible sound mix. Actors with big voices were all close to the mic, those that mumbled were off mic – which is kind of like being just outside the light. Yes, you can be heard, but everyone knows something is wrong. In this case, the mumblers couldn't be heard. Since there was music (yes, bad piano plunking), I got the feeling this filmmaker thinks their audio is finished. It's not. This is a big reason why you don't want to submit your film before it's ready for a real audience. You might tell us "Temp Sound Mix," but we have no way of knowing if your idea of a complete mix matches ours.
The final movie of the night in our screening room, was pretty good but it didn't start out that way. The photography made it hard to follow the story. Why? We couldn't see the actor's eyes. The eyes are the windows to your character's soul. With a tiny number of exceptions, if you can't see the actors' eyes, stop. Fix that. Use a flashlight with some diffusion paper on it if you have to. Pump in a little bit of light from their eye level. You won't be sorry.
Thanks for reading. If you haven't gotten your submission in. Do it. Do it now.