This will be short and sweet, as we still have a pile of movies to watch and not much time to do it.
I wanted to touch base on something that applies to all filmmakers, whether you get into DWF or not. If you just got a sinking feeling in your stomach on the mention of not getting in, sorry. I know that feeling well, as I've been turned down by the best and worst of them. Regardless of whether the glass is half-empty or completely empty, you have to figure out a way to make it full and be ready to keep it that way – and you can't do it alone. You're going to need partners, and the best partners you have right now are your cast.
The first thing you should do is send your cast an e-mail with a link to this article, since they have a lot on the line as well. Make sure they know you haven't forgotten about them, and that yes, you will get them a free copy of the movie (hopefully at the World Premiere Screening in the Dances With Films festival at the Chinese Theatre in Hollywood).
Cast members. I know, you've done about a million free or just-about-free movies and you never hear from the filmmaker again. You never get your free copy. I know this, because it has happened to me, too. Or, you might hear from the filmmaker when the movie got into its first festival – which you promoted and maybe attended if it was nearby – and that's about the end of your involvement. It might be the end because the filmmaker doesn't keep you up-to-date with promotional opportunities, or because you don't think there's anything in for you, so why bother?
There is definitely something in it for you. You need each and every one of your movies to be financially successful. That's what it means to be a "bankable" star, and that starts here and now. You need to use this movie to build your fan base, and you need your fan base to buy the movie, so when you nail your next audition you can leave the producer with the line, "Not only am I right for the part, but my films make money."
Filmmakers. This partnership works both ways. You need to make sure it's easy for your cast to promote your film. Keep in touch with them. Suggest ways they can help for festivals they can't get to – like Social Media promotion. Make sure they can buy the DVD at retail prices so they can resell them at conventions, etc. For festivals in Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Atlanta, etc. help your cast help you promote within the industry. You are partners. You have to share your success with each other. Don't drift apart.
Okay, that's about it on the business end for today.
In the screening room, the big trend we're seeing are movies that seem to be made right out of a textbook on how to make a good movie. The stories are exactly what they are supposed to be. The camera is exactly where it's supposed to be. The cast are all very solid. Everything is done exactly as a film school teacher would like it to be … and that's the problem. A textbook has no voice. A film school teacher is teaching you technique, which you definitely need to learn, and then you need to forget. It's good to make a movie that is everything it is supposed to be. It's great to make a movie that is more than the sum of its parts. Take it to the next level. Find your own voice.
Thanks for reading, and thanks for your patience.