Why the f**k didn’t those festivals let me know I didn’t get in – ever?
Every festival season I hear the same thing, often from the exact same filmmakers, about how hopping mad they are that Festival A or B didn’t get back to them to let them know that they DID NOT get into that festival.
This brings up a ton of stuff you should maybe know, so you’re not so pissed every year, and so you maybe don’t sound so bitter when this happens.
First of all: Just for reference, I have submitted to hundreds of film festivals over the years. Do you know how many times out of those hundreds I’ve heard that I have NOT gotten in? Maybe 10-15 times. And some of these festivals I was working for at the time.
Just last week I found out I did not get into the Dallas Film Festival by reading the line-up online, not by getting a phone call or an email even, or even spam from the festival where I did panels and was on the jury last year. Am I mad about this? Not in the least! I still love this festival and will continue to want to screen there. I think it is a fantastic venue and the audiences are very knowledgable and supportive, and I met so many people there that I adore, I will always want to bring my films there.
But I also know that this is common, and it’s not as if I GOT IN and I had to read it on-line. I DID NOT get in. AKA, nothing in my life has to change to suddenly get ready for this festival. I read it online exactly like everyone did, and I am not bitter about it because I understand what’s going on at that festival’s headquarters right now.
Right now, they are scrambling to make sure that all the films they DID select will actually be able to make it to the festival. They are trying to get materials from each and every filmmaker, so they can put out press releases and put the program together in time to get it printed for the festival. Have you met any filmmakers? This is like cat-wrangling at its worst. At the same time, the festival is trying to keep the sponsors happy, make sure that the most press possible is coming to the festival, and securing venues and permits and everything else it takes just to throw ONE party, and they are potentially throwing TWO PARTIES A DAY. All of this is really just the tip of the iceberg. There are also schedules, travel planning, hotels, and general filmmaker/jury issues to deal with that never stop.
How can I be upset, when it was super easy just to look online? Big deal, I had to type a couple letters and then click on some links. Why on earth would this make me upset?
This doesn’t just go for festivals, either. If you don’t hear back from producers, agents, managers, press people, distributors, development people, even readers in a certain amount of time, there is NO REASON AT ALL to be angry with them. They are just trying to get through each day like you are, and they are PERPETUALLY BEHIND. It’s ok to check in once or even twice if it takes a while, but after that, just let it go, it’s not that big of a deal, and it happens ALL THE TIME to EVERYONE.
I have a filmmaker friend who is forever angry about this. He has addressed it several times with producers who never got back to him and guess what, they never got back to him again after that. Had he let it go, he might’ve been able to submit another script or project to them that maybe they would’ve gotten to in a quicker manner and even liked. But it certainly doesn’t make people want to read your stuff or even like your stuff if you’re a giant brat about how busy they are.
Hope this helps you feel a little less bad about not hearing back. And I’m off to read about more festivals online that I didn’t get into this week, right along with ya.
See you at the next festival we both actually get into.