Fear and Self-Loathing and Festival Programmers

I was disappointed that Greenspoke wasn’t selected for the 2009 Seattle International Film Festival shorts program. Produced in Seattle with a strong local cast and crew, it’s tough to get rejected by the home town.

Going into this project I knew I had several issues to overcome:

  1. Greenspoke is long for a short – 27 minutes. This makes it difficult to fit into a festival program and will probably limit our distribution options. It also means that in accepting my film a festival potentially could be rejecting several shorter films that might round out the program better.
  2. Greenspoke is a genre piece. The sci-fi nature of the content is a plus in sci-fi  festivals but may actually work against it in more general interest or drama-focused events. SIFF did have a couple of sci-fi selected so I don’t think that is an issue here.
  3. Greenspoke, strong as our cast is, has no name talent attached. While we were one degree of separation away from Sandra Oh, one degree can make all the difference.

Feeling a little bitter about it all, I checked out the list of accepted SIFF shorts and found that most of the shorts that were accepted, are, uh, short. All but a handful are under 20 minutes. Unfortunately rejected films don’t usually get a reason for the rejection from festivals. That’s something that would be nice to have – just the scores from the judges and knowing how far it got can be helpful in tweaking and tuning or planning the next project.

We did get accepted to the 2009 International Film Festival Ireland. This was a pleasant surprise because they responded within a couple of weeks even though their notify date is a couple of months out. The festival happens in September in Galway, where the lovely and talented two julias alum  Órla Mc Govern and her pal Miss Nelly reside. We also got a worldwide distribution offer before Greenspoke has even shown anywhere.

So is it pointless rationalization to try and figure out why a festival programmer rejected your work? Probably, but it does make me feel better in a self-flaggelating sort of way. Especially when another programmer thinks you’re the bee’s pajamas.


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