Deciding what films get in the festival is easy. Deciding which ones don't get in is not.
Some of my favorite movies of all time submitted, but didn't get into, Dances With Films. Usually this is because the film has been seen at a number of other festivals - especially Los Angeles Fests. Filmmakers don't seem to understand that premiering their movie at a two-year-old festival named after some neighborhood in LA burns their chances of screening pretty much anywhere else in LA without doing their own 4-wall rental. They don't understand how hard it is to get the trades to review their films in these smaller fests. They also don't understand how hard it is to fill a theatre for a second screening.
Yes, filmmakers, premieres are also about ticket sales. Our mandate of "No Stars" in competition movies means we have a hard time getting sponsors. We are not a destination festival funding by a local Chamber of Commerce. We have survived for 18 years because of ticket sales. If you are a first time filmmaker, you probably have all sorts of arguments ready about how your movie is different. If you've been around the festival circuit - or Equity Waiver Theatre, you've played to empty houses and know what I'm talking about.
Another frustration is when filmmakers don't answer our e-mails. One told us, "I don't check this e-mail address very often, can you just text me?"
"No," is the answer to that question. We have thousands of people to communicate with in order to produce this festival. We can't make an exception for each submitter. If we like your film, but haven't heard back from you, we will go to extraordinary means to make initial contact - but what we'll say is, "Check your e-mails."
This leads to another reason films don't get programmed - the filmmakers are unprofessional. This is rare, because I've discovered that good movies are usually made by good people, but it happens. If you're one of the exceptions to that rule, then you're probably not aware of it, so nothing I say here will help. If you're one of the good people, then yes, we notice. We appreciate it. Your attitude helps your cause.
Right now we are still making decisions. We are re-watching movies. We are sending out e-mails asking about your marketing plans. If you haven't gotten one of those e-mails, that doesn't mean anything ... yet. If another week goes by and you haven't heard anything from us, then the writing is on the wall and you should make decisions accordingly. We do send out nice pass letters, so you won't be left hanging.
Here's hoping no one reading this gets one of those.