I got a side freelance gig this week, which was nice because our work has slowed some. Of course, inside of 12 hours, I have spent a great deal of this money already. I have been submitting the new short Accidental Art to several film festivals, even some big ones.
Here’s a big secret admission. I have never submitted one of my movies to the big festivals ever before. I think I submitted Bitter Old Man to Sundance in 2001, but that was it. As much as I like many of the movies I’ve made, I never thought they were good enough to be accepted to the top ten festivals (or even top twenty fests for that matter). Even the most recent material like Uncle Pete’s Playtime and Relationship Card, I didn’t think would warrant attention on the big film festival circuit. Now with Accidental Art, I have a little more faith. It looks like a real movie, not just because of the RED ONE camera, but Greg Sabo’s skill as a DP.
First, I made 30 DVD’s of Accidental Art Wednesday. Then I compiled a list of free film festivals, most of which have deadlines within the next 2 weeks. I weighed out the odds and decided to submit to several of the top ten film fests with this movie. It’s about time I at least tried. It cost money at a time where I have other things and future projects would be better spent, but there is a method to this thought process. I had to burn another 2 discs to meet all the submissions.
Getting accepted and even playing at the big festivals is an award in and of itself. I’m not into the competitions or winning awards, but I never dislike it when it does happen, but it is NOT a motivating factor. I drive myself with my own needs to improve and be a more effective filmmaker. Being allegedly “better” than someone else doesn’t do anything for me, nor does less experienced or subjectively more talented than me cause me to want to kick your ass metaphorically with a movie. These things seem so petty, small, and uninteresting to me. I can’t get motivated by that. Some people do and there’s nothing wrong in that… FOR THEM.
I am motivated by telling stories. Most people who speak with me get that dull look in their eyes as I start to spin a story that goes on endlessly, BUT they know I love to tell stories. I make a trip to the grocery store seem like Lawrence of Arabia, even though no one else agrees with my belief in its epic nature. I enter film festivals and try to get press not to feed the ego, but because it’s business. In order to tell bigger, more ambitious movies, that takes $ Money. In order to warrant getting money, you have to play in the bureaucratic sandbox to work and play well with others (that have money).
I want to make movies, but I am anchored by a sense of honor in that I don’t want to lose someone else’s money to do so. So many filmmakers are selfish and want to make their movie so bad that they cut corners or solely want to make an artistic expression, which is fine if they are paying for it themselves. When you work with other people’s money, there is a moral and ethical obligation to do whatever you can to help get return on the investment.
That means a business state of mind. Making a movie is art. The creation is birth to a unique artistic expression. Once it’s done though, you have a product to sell. In this age of digital filmmaking, EVERYONE’s a filmmaker and there are millions, soon to be billions of movies out there. How do you make your movies stand out?
Film Festivals are a great way to show that unbiased 3rd parties selected your film and decided to put it in front of a paying audience. That means it is indicative of how some people believed enough in your vision to add a monetary value. The more festivals that accept and play it demonstrate a potential that you have a movie that crosses market places, and is potentially more suitable to audiences preferences. That’s not rocket science to figure out.