Tuesday, November 30, 2010

We're Open For Season 14

We're finally open for submissions.

So what does that mean for you folks that have just finished the first cut of your film? Should you rush off a DVD to get that worm the early bird keeps bragging about? I don't know. Is your film finished? I mean, actually FINISHED?
Here's a quick check list to help you answer that question.

Sound: Have you put the headphones on to listen closely to the background noise around your dialogue? Conversely, have you run your movie on the biggest screen and sound system you can find? Is the sound even? Are there any clips? Any drop outs? Does is sound like a "real movie"? Don't know for sure? Then you might want to hold off on that rush to the post office and run to a post house instead.

If you're a regular reader of my blog, you know how I spent all last year bitching about unfinished sound. Movies are an illusion of light and sound. The latter is 50% of a production, so why do so many people short change it? If nothing else, beg borrow or steal some time from a professional post production producer, editor, or sound designer to lend you an ear – literally. I understand if you can't afford the expense of a full post-production extravaganza – which was the minimum basic requirement back in the film days – but bad sound is the first and loudest way to shout I AM NOT A PROFESSIONAL.

Picture: Do you have shots of silhouettes in front of sliding glass doors with daylight streaming in when the script demands that we see characters' faces? Best to cut around those. Do you have long scenes of people walking from one place to another, without saying anything or advancing the plot, while slow, droning music drags the pace into the tar pits? Please cut those before submitting. Please. They are painful to watch. You have the time to take them out now, so do.

Story: Do you have a short film so full of subplots that we have to have a spreadsheet to follow them? Is there some ridiculous thread in your elegant character study that you thought you needed to have a solid plot structure when you were writing it, and now can't see that it's in the wrong movie? Cut around these things. Get a group of trusted friends to screen rough cuts, and listen to what they have to say – because it's better to hear it from them than from me. Right?

You've got the time now to make these fixes. You can take as many shots at your film as you need to make it the best project it can be – but you only get one shot at us.

Well, one per entry fee.

Our regular deadline is March 2nd. A slew of higher-priced late deadlines come up shortly thereafter. If your film is ready, submit now. If you just think it's ready, keep working on it and submit after the holidays. We won't notice the difference in dates, but we'll surely notice the difference in quality.

And don't call us "surely." RIP Mr. Nielsen.

Thanks for reading.