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    Senior Member Slimothy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Barry_Green View Post
    And yet, Ramsey won LoveFest with probably the most action-less film ever submitted. A locked-down shot of two folks sitting on the back porch. My wife still thinks that's the best film ever on DVXFest, and she still asks me when there's gonna be a feature version of it.

    And, that action-less zombie film of yours is what first marked you in my book as a guy to watch.

    Point being, you can't ever predict what audiences are actually going to want. There is no "formula" -- if there was, there never would have been an "Ishtar".

    I still say "production value" is probably the least important of the values. If I care what's happening to the characters, and it's not some predictable boring cliche rehash retread... then as long as it's in focus and you can hear the dialogue, man, that's just about all you need...
    I think a lot of people think of "production value" as what the frame looks like but I think it goes well beyond that. I think it's a combination of lighting, location, acting, editing, color timing etc. Of course visual fx and things like that can help but I look at a film like I F*cking Hate you and to me that still seems like it has great production value. Am I in the minority there? It still looks professional as hell but not because of money spent or anything like that but because everything was well crafted which (IMO) exuded high production values. Not sure if anyone agrees but that's the way I see it.



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    The Dude Abides Mark Johnson's Avatar
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    Appreciate the candor and public rumination, Jack. There's much worth considering in those observations.

    I've often referred to your work in discussions with Tim and Luis where I've talked about your "consistency" as being something we need to emulate. After reading your post and considering your films, I realize that what I have been drawn to is the consistent devotion of effort into your craft -- not consistency in terms of style or content. In truth, your films cover a broad range, but they all exhibit unmistakable attention to detail, planning and preproduction.

    I don't think anyone has ever accused you of taking shortcuts and, frankly, at times when we worked on "Rekindled" I thought you were neurotic in your fastidiousness. Nevertheless, I see how that level of investment pays off in your films time after time and its something we need to work harder at attaining.

    Shawn, I compliment you on your willingness to be self-critical. One of the best ways to grow comes from being willing to be your own toughest critic. Lord knows we rip ourselves up with every post mortem we do and we have no illusions that "Dispatch" or anything else we've done constitutes high art.

    With all respect, I think you do yourself a disservice with the attitude you expressed in your recent post:
    My normal stuff is pretty heavily disliked here
    From what I've observed, you've consistently produced solid work that has been voted among the finalists here so I'm not sure what you are referring to as evidence that your films are heavily disliked.

    Moreover, if it's your candid assessment that your completed films have been "better" than the competition then you've achieved the most important result anyway. It doesn't matter where you finish in the voting if you honestly feel that your film was superior to the field and that you achieved what you were after.


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    Senior Member Edgen's Avatar
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    Nelson... I've always dug your films.

    I say make the movies you want to make and do the best you can at making them. These festivals are here to help you improve as a filmmaker. Not only the critiques on your own film... but also to learn from all the other critiques across the DVXuser festival.

    /j


    justin r. durban -
    yup & yup.



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    Senior Member Shawn Philip Nelson's Avatar
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    Hey Barry,
    Thanks for weighing in here.

    You strike at an interesting idea. I knew my entry wouldnt be a surprise or shock to ANYONE in this fest, as it's Monsterfest anyways. I didnt care but clearly the voters did. Why does every entry have to twist? I didnt care that it was predictable, I just wanted to entertain with the ride. I think the DVXUsers highly value twists more than execution.

    Ditto to your thoughts on betrayal.

    Quote Originally Posted by Barry_Green View Post
    You should. Stretching your boundaries and stepping outside your comfort zone is the way to grow. And, in many ways, that's what DVXFest is all about.


    I don't really think so, not for this fest. As for my watching, there was no mystery in your original premise at all. A glance at the title, and especially at the poster, gave it away and I knew exactly what to expect.

    Had this been entered in LoveFest, or something like that, where there was a good chance at some surprise (and with a different poster that didn't give it away) perhaps it would have worked. But for MonsterFest, I saw the ending coming from a hundred miles away. And that's something that doesn't even reflect on the quality of the picture itself, it's just the combination of this premise, placed within the existing expectations of "MonsterFest". No matter how well-acted or well-shot, it still would have been completely predictable based on the particular requirements of the fest it was entered in, and the clues given in the poster and the title.

    Matching or meeting or exceeding an audience's expectations is a tricky thing, but succeeding at doing that is key towards having the audience enjoy your film.

    Which is frankly a worry I have for betrayalfest -- because right now, I have to say, if people enter that fest with the idea of "ooh, I'm gonna set up this film and then surprise, at the end, there's a betrayal!" then I think we're going to have a lot of disappointed audience members.

    My take, anyway.
    Formerly user 'shawneous'.

    "Every great idea is on the verge of being stupid."
    -Michel Gondry


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    Senior Member Shawn Philip Nelson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jack Daniel Stanley View Post
    This has been my biggest struggle as a filmmaker.

    It's valid to some degree. I mean filmmaking is communication and definitely the point of it is "how will this be received" "how can I craft this to get such and such effect to server the story."

    And it's also typical of young filmmakers, to start by emulating others work that they admire. Not saying necessarily that you are doing this Shawn, just that lots of people do. Including myself to a large degree initially and some still.

    When I started on DVXuser with a couple decent placings, I was forever studying the films that won and trying to reverse engineer them. Not to copy them per se, but after Zombie Fest, for example, I thought "my film was OK/did OK but I don't think it's the kind of film that will play as well as the 1st place film did for such a guy forum/genre contest." Mine lacked action and was about family devotion. The winning film had cool cowboys and some good scares. So I said - I want to do something more like that the next time. My next film was much more a "guy" film.

    But I think you reach greater successes to kind of take that stuff in and then "chase your own demons" as one writing teacher of mine put it. He said, "writers chase their demons" meaning, there's some kind of thematic wellspring particular to you that gives you juice / makes you interesting. So it's worthwhile to consider how certain kinds of films play and certain kinds of effects and production value, but always go back to yourself.

    Now I don't mean to be preaching. This is a struggle for me. I started trying to make films like me, then Sam Balcomb and Jesse Soff, then Macgregor, and now, I just did a web series pilot and Fat Monster was in the back of my head "I have to have THAT kind of production value". I'm also trying to make work more like Zak Forsman now with a certain kind of depth. Every time I write and ending I think of Mark Harris and our ongoing discussiona about what makes a good ending. Maybe one can't help but think like that, but make sure YOU would want to see it YOU are passionate about not just the film but the ideas and themes in the film on the most personal level. I think when you find when you are working on something and you have no choice but to veer away from how so-and-so would have done it, that it feels like it has to be done this other way, then you are on the right path.

    Again, not saying you are going through the same thing exactly, but I think a lot of our members go through this "trying to think of a winner" or "what plays on DVXuser", and its still something I struggle with.

    One thing that's def. helped - getting away from User and playing real world fests / a mix of straight and genre festivals, and learning more and more that there is no winning formula that goes over everywhere, there's only making the movie you'd want to see, which, ironically I think, is the most sure fire, or as sure fire as any other strategy for making a good one / one that others will be drawn to. IMHO.
    Thanks Jack, those are worthwhile thoughts.

    I've stayed away from fests because i've been told by too many people that the big ones wont even watch your entry unless it's been kissed by an insider. I dont have money to throw away for my dvds to sit on a shelf. If there was a list of worthwhile festivals that guaranteed your movie to be screened by at least two people then I'd maybe get back at it.
    Formerly user 'shawneous'.

    "Every great idea is on the verge of being stupid."
    -Michel Gondry


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    Still Alive Mod Jack Daniel Stanley's Avatar
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    Your movies will seen by someone at major festivals virtually guaranteed, and I can prove it via an email I got from Sundance recently ... read on ...

    Now WHO screens your movie at the festival is a different question. Big festivals HAVE to have helpers pre-screen. But the way it works is they rate it as "2nd look" or not. So they're saying basically "this doesn't suck it's worth it for someone besides myself to look at it."

    I didn't get juiced in to Slamdance. Was totally just one of the sheep. Same for Philadelphia and Austin Film Fest, and Lone Star International. Same for all the genre festivals I've played.

    Here's proof that they want to see your movie.
    SUNDANCE - submitted a rough cut of something new to them this year. They don't know anything about the other festivals I've played etc. But I got this email from them.

    Jack,

    Although we have received your submission to the Sundance Film Festival, the version we currently have is broken or damaged in some way. We must receive a new version in order to keep your film in consideration for the festival.

    Please send a corrected copy of the film ASAP directly to my attention at the address below. Include your original Tracking Number on the DVD itself as well as a copy of this email. Thank you very much and we look forward to viewing your submission.


    Best,

    Landon Zakheim
    Coordinator, Programming Department
    Sundance Institute
    8530 Wilshire Blvd., 3rd Floor
    Beverly Hills, CA 90211
    So here they are with 6 thousand shorts entries and they have a system set up to make sure they all get seen. EVEN if the thing keeping them back is that MY disc is crappy! Pretty cool huh? And tust me. I am just some guy to Sundance. I have no juice there.

    If it's a big reputablie festival, they will have a system for handling SOMEONE seeing all the material that comes in and rating it and plugging it in to the system. Whether or not that someone plugs you into the system depends on what they had for breakfast that day, if you do something annoying in your short that the last 50 films they saw also did (like beging your short by having a character wake up to an alarm clock, or having a character stair soul searchingly into a mirror, or having them stair nostalgically at a photo), their personal tastes/issues: Friend at Austin Film Festival to Programmer/Founder of the Marfa Film Festival at Austin FIlm Festival party. FRIEND: (holding up post card) You should come see my friend Jack's shorts they're really good. MARFA PROGRAMMER: Yeah I know I've seen them, but they're DISGUTSING! A Lot of women have issues with that subject matter. I'd submitted to her festival. Once she saw the graphic bloody miscarriage scene in A LITTLE MOUTH TO FEED, that was pretty much end of the story for my films at teh Marfa Film festiva. ... so it's a total crap shoot and you may or may not get in based on 100 things. But the majors will look at your films.

    Now it's slightly different for features. Yes at major festivals agents and producers try to lobby their films into the fest - such films may be screened, but usually only out of competition. But for shorts its a much more even playing field. HBO just doesn't make short films written and directed by Kevin Bacon, and if they did, they'd have little incentive to really push for it getting into Sundance (little money incentive that is).

    Pick ten major festivals and submit (buy your lottery ticket). Who knows. Ten major festivals shouldn't break your bank. That won't even be the cost of 1 accessory for the RED.

    Then start googling things about your short and places you'd like to, or can afford to go. I googled "Horror+Film Festival+Los Angeles", "Horror+Film Festival+New York", "Horror+Film Festival+Texas" for example.

    Here's a trick that can save you money AND make you look like an insider. Call them and ask if you can not pay. Just ask. "Hi I'm really struggling financially and I have this film I really believe in but my baby's gotta eat. Is there anyway in the world I could get a reduced or waived entrance fee?" Some of them may say yes! Now here's the cool part. If they say yes you can now send in your envelope / application with "Fee Waived as per 'Joe Sundance'" Or whomever gave you the waiver written on it with a big sharpie. Now there is the possibility that when your envelope comes in, maybe it goes in a different pile, maybe someone higher up picks it up and says "Oh this came in through Joe Sundance. Joe must have invited this person to submit. I'll take a look." Just maybe. Of course it could be a pe-on that waves your fee, or very likely, while it won't be the founder of the festival, it will be a longtime trusted employee that's also a filmmaker that also from time to time asks his friends to submit, and those submissions might get moved up the screening chain a bit.

    Finally here's a list of 25 film festivals "worth the submission fee" from Movie Maker Magazine:
    http://www.moviemaker.com/festivals/...2009_20090714/
    JACKDANIELSTANLEY.COM
    FREE AWARD-WINNING MOSTLY-HORROR SHORTS FROM
    DVXUSER, TRIBECA, SLAMDANCE, SXSW, TORONTO AFTER DARK, AND MORE...


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    Senior Member bosindy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shawn Philip Nelson View Post
    I've stayed away from fests because i've been told by too many people that the big ones wont even watch your entry unless it's been kissed by an insider. I dont have money to throw away for my dvds to sit on a shelf. If there was a list of worthwhile festivals that guaranteed your movie to be screened by at least two people then I'd maybe get back at it.


    this is not true, having talked to a few programmers this past year, most of the well respected fest have each screener watched by more than one person. It doesn't mean its not extremely competitive to get in given the number of entries of course. Having a connection to the fest can help but many films get into the top fests that are submitted blind.

    EDIT< Jack beat me to it with his post and he would know as well as anyone.


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    Moderator Zak Forsman's Avatar
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    I met Landon Zakheim at the LA Film Festival. He's one of the good guys.
    DOWN AND DANGEROUS is now on iTunes :: A smuggler bleeds like anyone else. He just gets more chances to prove it.
    THE SABI COMPANY :: FACEBOOK :: TWITTER :: IMDB :: #DADmovie


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