Sunday, February 2, 2014

The End Times

We took Super Bowl Sunday off from screening shorts, so I thought this might be a good time to go over what will happen between now and the time we announce our final slate.  For submitters, there is one rule to remember:

Until you get your official pass e-mail from Dances With Films, there is still a chance your movie could be in the festival.

“But Robert,” I hear you saying – because this is a really great internet connection, “you haven’t even sent out second round letters, why are you talking about the end days?”

No matter how many times I say the rule, people forget it.  They get angry when they shouldn’t.  They say things they shouldn’t, and pretty soon they have talked their slim chance down to none.

Case in point:  Last year we had to meet a press deadline with Indiewire before we had every slot filled for the festival.  So we sent the 90% complete list and called it the slate.  Better that story than no story at all, right?  Weeks prior to this, I kept saying, “Until you get your pass letter, you still have a chance to be in the festival.”

Most filmmakers listened.  They realized that, at that late date, their chances were slim – but slim is better than none.  They remained politely quiet, or vocally hopeful, and life was all good.  For them.

Other filmmakers decided we were the scum of the earth because they had to learn from the press that they weren’t in the festival.  They were vocally abusive.  No matter how many times I said that we still had slots to fill, they insisted we didn’t know what we were doing, and how could we be so… (fill in the insult of your choice).  Never mind that most festivals don’t do pass letters at all.  Never mind that some festivals don’t even send out acceptance letters, they just screen your submission DVD.  We were the mean ones.

Now, put yourself in our position.  You’re struggling to decide which film, and which filmmakers, you want to spend two weeks with.  Which ones you want to partner with in the insane process of 11 days of heaven and hell.  On one hand, you have people who are politely quiet, or vocally hopeful.  On the other, are people calling you names.  Obviously, the movies are of similar quality since they are both being considered.  Who would you choose?

Until you get your pass letter, there is still a chance your film could be in the festival.

Second round letters will be going out soon.  Some might already have gone out.  Not getting a second round letter this early in the game means nothing.  Do make sure you got your “we received your submission” e-mail, so you know we have the right address.  Do keep checking your spam filter.  Don’t worry if you don’t get a second round letter for the next few weeks.

Schedules.  Ignore them.  Without A Box forces us to say when we will make/announce our slate long before we know ourselves.  We might be a week or two late.  That’s our problem, not yours.  Please don’t tell us we’re late.  We’re aware of that.  Please don’t tell us we lied.  We didn’t want to set the deadline in the first place.  If you want to go on line to say how excited you are, and how you hope you’ll hear soon, that’s great.  Eager is good.  Anger is not.

Screenings start again next week.  Thanks for reading.  Comments are welcome.

RIP Philip Seymour Hoffman


OOTA said...

Question... do second round letters only apply to features or do you send them to short filmmakers as well?

RSMellette said...

They do apply for shorts as well as features. I don't think we've sent any out yet, or if we have, only a few. So if you haven't gotten one, that means nothing. :)

Remember rule one!