Friday, May 21, 2010

Luck Be A Socially Responsible Person of Either Gender Tonight

The slogan for this year's Dances With Films Festival is "Luck Is For Sissies."

I would have suggested "Luck is for Suckers," myself, since we do screen in West Hollywood and don't want to hear from the Sissy Anti-Defamation League. I bare witness that the festival has never discriminated against, nor passed judgment on, any individual, group, film, or submission based on how an individual and/or member of that group throws a baseball, catches any ball for sports, punches, dresses, argues, dances, or in anyway interacts with the outside world in a manner that might be construed as "Sissy," "Sissified," "Wussie," or in the case of male individuals and/or members of said groups, "like a girl" – which is especially not the case, since young women have proven themselves quite capable of accomplishing traditionally labeled "masculine tasks" with as much skill and grace as any of their male counterparts.

Whereas, "Luck is for Suckers" is perfectly acceptable since suckers have never bothered to organize a lobbying group for themselves – though several of them have paid dues for false organizations via Nigerian internet con artists.

So, forget all of that. Let's talk about luck.

Some people think that luck is something that comes to the lucky. They wait for luck to come to them. Other's claim that you can make your own luck.

The military says that luck is when preparation meets opportunity. This seems to be a perfectly legitimate equation for defining luck. If an opportunity comes a long that you're not prepared for, you can't take advantage of it. You might say that you weren't lucky, but in fact, you weren't prepared.

By the same token, if you are prepared, but you sit on your couch watching the Academy Awards, or reading the latest new hot author, and grumble that "those people just got lucky," then you have not been working to create opportunities for yourself.
For those of you who remember your grade school algebra, by the Transitive Property of Equality:

If Luck = Preparation + Opportunity, and both Preparation and Opportunity can be made possible, then by a = b and b = c then a = c, Luck can be made.

That is not to say that if you prepare yourself with the skills of your chosen art form, and if you get out there to make all the opportunities that you can, that everything else will be easy. The thing about working in a glamorous, fun, high profile profession is that everyone wants to do it – or at least it seems like everyone. There is a mob of people out there who are just as prepared as you are, and working just as hard to make their own opportunities. And for every one thousand of them, there are only a few opportunities available.

I think of it sometimes like getting a rebound in the NBA. Everyone there has skills. Everyone is blocking out, positioning themselves for the best chance of getting the ball after a missed shot, but if the ball doesn't bounce their way, they don't get it.

Still, two kinds of people get more rebounds than the rest. Some have a team concept. Four guys making sure the other team can't get the ball, while one on ours does. Others have that uncanny skill, that's close to magic. They seem to know where the ball is going to go, and they get themselves there no matter what. To their equation for luck, you can add Insane Talent.

Your job is to figure out for yourself how you can best create your own opportunity. How you can follow the ball, to put yourself not where it is now, but where it's going to be when you get there.

Work on your skills. Make your opportunities. Then count on your talent.

Thanks for reading.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Guest Blog - To DWF and Beyond!

We're all busy getting the festival together... and, for those of you who would still like to participate, I believe the 2-Minute 2-Step deadline has been extended. Check the link to your right.

So while we get all of our ducks in a row, I thought I'd bring you a guest blog from The Shumway Brothers. They are two times alumni of the festival and wrote to us recently about there experience here and how it helped them down the line.

Enjoy --

In June 2009 we finished our 5 year project called "Enigma." Now we had a decision to make: which festival should be our world premiere? We had premiered a previous film, “Over the Moon” at Dances with Films and the experience had been great – it even won “audience choice!” We decided that DWF was the best place to premiere Enigma. After a wonderful, problem free screening, we repeated history with another “Audience Choice” award!

Wow! Our world premiere had gone without a hitch! The festival was fun, and now we were excited to do this a bunch more times! Awesome! So we got accepted to more festivals, and were all ready to have the same experience we had at DWF... And then our eyes were opened.

We had been to “Dances” twice, and twice had a great experience. So we thought that all festivals would be like “Dances.” And then we discovered…not all film festivals are created equal!

Communication is key with film festivals. You have to know what’s going on to get the most out of the event. “Dances” takes this a step further with the orientation meeting. Here we got the chance to meet other filmmakers before the fest. At the meeting, the DWF staff told us what we should be doing to help promote our films and the fest. They covered postcards, posters, and they planted great ideas about S.W.A.G! (You know. $h!t we all get!). So we got our stuff and saw how well it worked and how much better it made the entire experience.

This meeting prepared us better than we realized. At many of our future festivals we took what we learned from DWF and applied it. We were quite lucky to have received this preparation at our first fest and not our last. At every fest we went we were more prepared and knew what and how to advertise our film and in turn we put more people in the seats.

"Enigma" has now been to 18 festivals, we have been awarded 20 festival awards and 16 nominations and it all started with Dances with Films


The Shumway Brothers are:

Jason Shumway

Jason Shumway has been making movies since the young age of 14. After getting his first taste of video editing at the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, Jason became an award winning filmmaker while studying in J. Everett Light Radio/Television program. For college Jason was lucky enough to be accepted to the prestigious University of Southern California. In this top rated film program Jason directed eight films and crew on many more. He has recently worked on shows for G4TV and NBC. Currently he is a staff editor at E! Entertainment Television. Jason produced the indie Feature Film “Bloomington” Premiering at Frameline Film Festival in San Francisco on June 23rd 2010.

Matt Shumway

Matt graduated with distinction from Art Center College of Design. There he created his award winning film “Over the Moon.” That film led him to Rhythm and Hues Studios where he works as an Animation Supervisor. His feature film credits include X2, Garfield 1 & 2, Chronicles of Narnia, A Night at the Museum, The Golden Compass, The Incredible Hulk, and Land of the Lost. Matt was nominated for and Annie Award in 2006 for his work on Aslan for Narnia. He is currently the Animation Supervisor for Cabin in the Woods, A Drew Goddard / Joss Whedon Film due out Jan 14th 2011.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Hang In There

I know I didn't post anything this Friday. I'm working on getting a guest blogger.

But thanks for dropping by.

Friday, May 7, 2010

What Are You Crying About?

Stay in the entertainment industry long enough and you'll run across at least one actor, writer, director, cinematographer, or producer who has gotten bitter. They haven't worked in a long time, and you know right away from talking to them that they aren't likely to work again. They have a chip on their shoulder about the business, to which everyone's reaction is not to knock it off, but just walk away.

Sure, we all get angry sometimes. We've all had our "what are they thinking" tirades, but these are superficial – or they should be. If that anger is allowed to fester and seep under the skin, then it becomes bitterness, and that is fatal to an artist.

Some things to keep in mind that might help get you through the bad times:

No one forced you into this. The entertainment industry isn't coal mining. You didn't have to get into it to put food on the table so that your father's black lung will be covered by your health insurance and your baby sister could go to college. You're not share cropping. You've chosen a career – which in and of itself is a luxury most people on the planet don't enjoy – that almost never pans out. You knew the chances were close to impossible when you started, and yet you still chose it. Fine. Everyone loves a good hero struggling against all odds, but no one likes a person who picks that life, then complains about it.

It only takes one person to launch a career. That statement is both true and false. It has taken hundreds of people to get you to where you are today – a trained artist. You create your work and do your best to get it out on the market. From there, it takes just one person – the right one person – to say, "I like this" and/or "I can sell this."

What happens if you've gotten bitter and your response is, "Yeah, well, it's about time you opened your eyes to my work!" or "so what?" Suddenly, the one person who liked your work doesn't like you so much – and given that there are thousands of people as good as you who aren't bitter, that one person is going to move on. Guaranteed.

So keep your chin up. See the light. You're living a blessed life whether you know it or not. I can say that because you are reading this blog. That means you can read. You have access to a computer. You have the time to kick back and scan my silly words.

Whenever I run across an artist who is bitter, I'm reminded of the old lines from the stereotypical tough-love Dad.

"What are you crying about? I'll give you something to cry about!"

We are all wonderfully spoiled in this world. Bask in it. Celebrate it. Create some art.

Thanks for reading.