Monday, December 10, 2007

The Anatomy of a True Independent Film: Short Film vs. Festival Fees

I decided to take a fresh look at the festival circuit for my first two films, which did not receive the chance at attention that many films achieve. Although the reality is more likely that I will enter and my film, being too different and ‘loose’ for the stuffy mindset of many festivals, and it will not be chosen; nonetheless, I am choosing to try anyway. Hope is only as strong as those who hold it tight.

In doing this regurgitation of past practice, I discovered the reason why I veered away from this road, and thusly created my own, more respectable festival: fees! It is Christmas time, and despite the fact that I make decent money, I have…(ugh!) responsibilities, leaving less than a plentiful surplus for frivolities. The festival that looms around the corner, the Great Lakes International, requires a thirty-five dollar fee for the early submission. Keep in mind that this is for short films!

To put this into perspective, I have bought most of my Super 8 cams for much less than this amount. I could buy two, almost three cartridges of Super 8. I bought three rolls of regular 8mm film. I just recently bought a Samsung 8mm video camcorder for less…at any rate, you get my point.

Let’s put this into further perspective: the making of “Adam and Yvette”. This film cost all of eleven dollars. I will explain the breakdown of the budget in a moment, but I will explain the details of the production: locally cast, local music provided, local establishment and their humble cooperation from both owner and staff, timing, improvising, patience and using the best of what you have. Now let’s look at the breakdown of the budget:

Carnation $3.00
8mm Tape $8.00

That’s it! Eleven dollars is exactly what this film cost me, and nothing more. In fact, it could have been cheaper; the camera was not a Hi8 camera, and I bought the more expensive Hi8 tape, which [of course] cost more. Had I bought the normal tape, this film would have cost less than eight dollars.

Why, when I could make three films to the one entry fee, would I offer my money to the less dedicated who will only take it and run? I will anyway, but not until after Christmas; thirty-five dollars will go too far for me not to utilize it elsewhere. This is the way of the starving artist; what we lack in possession and complacency, we make up for in imagination and guile.

I look back at the critics of these films, how many have shown their ass ( go ahead and check them out…go to my website and follow the links to the films and read the comments!), and I smile, not because I think I am the best or better, but because they have done nothing or nothing like I can.

Great Lakes International, I’m afraid will have to starve for my money…and go hungry. We will test the future in our own way. While the rest of the gray-shadowed world slumbers away, the dreamers begin to awake.


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