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#1 Ethan Lyu

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Posted 07 January 2009 - 01:02 AM

Hello, first let me say I am always thankful for the advices I get from this community.


Being a newbie in industry, I know there is no 'ONE' way to get a feature made or raising
money or becoming a director. My plan (for now) is to enter into local, small festival w/
micro-budget films and try to enter major festivals if I can get a budget since I believe, it requires budget for publicity to make it worthwhile.

So some question about festivals...

1.
I used to hear winning a short film festival is unless it?s something very major like the Academy, but still getting noticed in a major festival with a short is one of the best way to directing, isn?t it?
Although video and HD has improved nowadays, do you think one should consider shooting
35mm or at least 16mm if it's for entering into a major festival?
I don't even know mini-DV shot on DVX100 is accepted. (When I saw "Lonesome Jim" think
the DVD commentary said the whole thing was shot on DVX100)

2.
Also I see these major directors made 35 minutes shorts when they were students, which I think is necessary length to tell a story. But I think most festivals limits you for 15min. at the
most, don't they? Besides Youtube, how can you show your 30 min. plus short to a mass
audience that counts?

3.
Which are the 'Big 15' film fest., ie, the festivals that won't be a waste to enter?
(I went to see a small film fest in LA, and attendance was minimal plus my friend's film
was in the morning and there were 15 people in the theater. I suppose it didn't hurt to
build her resume but it didn't get the movie much exposure)

thank you very much,
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#2 Justin Hayward

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Posted 07 January 2009 - 01:45 AM

I used to hear winning a short film festival is unless it?s something very major like the Academy, but still getting noticed in a major festival with a short is one of the best way to directing, isn?t it?


It doesn't hurt, but things tend to work out differently for everybody.

Although video and HD has improved nowadays, do you think one should consider shooting
35mm or at least 16mm if it's for entering into a major festival?
I don't even know mini-DV shot on DVX100 is accepted. (When I saw "Lonesome Jim" think
the DVD commentary said the whole thing was shot on DVX100)


Lonesome Jim was directed by Steve Buscemi and starred Casey Affleck which trumps whatever it was shot on. But, the good thing about festivals is they first view your stuff on DVD, which gives you time to put your movie to whatever format they ask for if you're accepted. The "look" starts with the production design and lighting.

Of course shooting on 35mm won't hurt either.

Also I see these major directors made 35 minutes shorts when they were students, which I think is necessary length to tell a story. But I think most festivals limits you for 15min. at the
most, don't they? Besides Youtube, how can you show your 30 min. plus short to a mass
audience that counts?


Short programs average around two hours, so if your movie is thirty five minutes you'll be taking up one fourth of the whole program. It had better be the best short film they've ever seen.

As far as youtube (or any short film website), have you ever sat through a short you've never heard of that was over thirty minutes? How about fifteen minutes? Ten?

Which are the 'Big 15' film fest., ie, the festivals that won't be a waste to enter?
(I went to see a small film fest in LA, and attendance was minimal plus my friend's film
was in the morning and there were 15 people in the theater. I suppose it didn't hurt to
build her resume but it didn't get the movie much exposure)


Just don't spend over forty dollars on a festival nobody's heard of or sixty dollars on a film festival you've heard rejects everything.

Besides that, forget film festivals and focus on making the movie exactly the way you want it to be. All the other stuff comes later.
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#3 Josh Bass

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Posted 07 January 2009 - 02:09 AM

I don't have much experience, but from what I've heard:

10-15 minutes is the ideal short length (or less), a lot of folks recommend ten or under. Seems like 99% of 'em accept miniDV. Whether any of those submissions actually MAKE IT THROUGH and get into the festival is another story. I've done exhaustive research looking for fests that might take my overly long (23 min) short made on miniDV with no name actors. Sometimes, on a fest's website, you can find screenshots from the entrants for each year. If I look at those and see that everything looks like it was shot on film or at least HD with a "real" budget, SKIPPO for me (documentaries are apparently the exception--without fail, almost every screenshot that does look like something within my budgetary range is a doc). Likewise, if I see party pics with celebs everywhere, SKIPPO for me. It also doesn't hurt to see (if you can) what general length are the movies that made it in each year (i.e. if there are short films, are they all around seven minutes long, or are there some that approach your length?). In my opinion, they ALL want to be Sundance, that is, have their programming be high end projects with major stars. Find the fests that are exceptions, and your video-shot 35 min short might have a chance.

P.S. One I'd advise you to avoid (it's a known scam; google it) is a festival based in NEW YORK with the words INDEPENDENT and FILM in it's FESTIVAL name.
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#4 Josh Bass

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Posted 07 January 2009 - 02:09 AM

I don't have much experience, but from what I've heard:

10-15 minutes is the ideal short length (or less), a lot of folks recommend ten or under. Seems like 99% of 'em accept miniDV. Whether any of those submissions actually MAKE IT THROUGH and get into the festival is another story. I've done exhaustive research looking for fests that might take my overly long (23 min) short made on miniDV with no name actors. Sometimes, on a fest's website, you can find screenshots from the entrants for each year. If I look at those and see that everything looks like it was shot on film or at least HD with a "real" budget, SKIPPO for me (documentaries are apparently the exception--without fail, almost every screenshot that does look like something within my budgetary range is a doc). Likewise, if I see party pics with celebs everywhere, SKIPPO for me. It also doesn't hurt to see (if you can) what general length are the movies that made it in each year (i.e. if there are short films, are they all around seven minutes long, or are there some that approach your length?). In my opinion, they ALL want to be Sundance, that is, have their programming be high end projects with major stars. Find the fests that are exceptions, and your video-shot 35 min short might have a chance.

P.S. One I'd advise (it's a known scam; google it) is a festival based in NEW YORK with the words INDEPENDENT and FILM in it's FESTIVAL name.
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#5 Ethan Lyu

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Posted 08 January 2009 - 01:10 AM

I don't have much experience, but from what I've heard:

10-15 minutes is the ideal short length (or less), a lot of folks recommend ten or under. Seems like 99% of 'em accept miniDV. Whether any of those submissions actually MAKE IT THROUGH and get into the festival is another story. I've done exhaustive research looking for fests that might take my overly long (23 min) short made on miniDV with no name actors. Sometimes, on a fest's website, you can find screenshots from the entrants for each year. If I look at those and see that everything looks like it was shot on film or at least HD with a "real" budget, SKIPPO for me (documentaries are apparently the exception--without fail, almost every screenshot that does look like something within my budgetary range is a doc). Likewise, if I see party pics with celebs everywhere, SKIPPO for me. It also doesn't hurt to see (if you can) what general length are the movies that made it in each year (i.e. if there are short films, are they all around seven minutes long, or are there some that approach your length?). In my opinion, they ALL want to be Sundance, that is, have their programming be high end projects with major stars. Find the fests that are exceptions, and your video-shot 35 min short might have a chance.

P.S. One I'd advise (it's a known scam; google it) is a festival based in NEW YORK with the words INDEPENDENT and FILM in it's FESTIVAL name.


Hey John

thanks for all the info.
Do you know if Sundance accepts miniDV for their shorts?
It did not say anything about the format on their website.

If you don't mind sharing, which festivals did you submit?

thanks so much,
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#6 Josh Bass

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Posted 08 January 2009 - 02:59 AM

Sundance does, yes. A miniDV (DVX100) features, November, won an award there (cinematography, I think). Of course, it starred Courtney Cox and was shot by an ASC member. Will yours get in? Truthfully, likely no. That's the most sought after film fest in the world (I think), in terms of people trying to get in . They have something like 80 actual slots for films, and over 3000 entries a year. Plus, there's a lot of politics and bullshit where people can get their movies in without actually submitting (folks with big money/connections), further reducing the number of slots open to submitting filmmakers. In case you're wondering, no I'm not speaking from bitterness or sour grapes. I didn't bother submitting this film there. I'm not crazy, I know it's not getting in. By the way, if you DO submit to Sundance, they require your film to premiere in their fest. That means that if you submit, you have to wait to hear back from them before you submit anywhere else.

I could tell what you fests I've submitted to, but it's a long list. And I aimed really low/small unless they were ultra cheap (10-15 bucks), in which case I said (sometimes) "so what if it's a fancy schmancy fest, for $10, why not?".

If you're looking for major fests, my list wouldn't really help you. I aimed for ones I thought I could get into, not the best festivals. If I had a shorter piece, or more star power, or some great hook (scenes with real sharks or something, a la "Open Water"), it might be a different story. There's a well-respected book by Chris Gore called "The Ultimate Film Festival Survival Guide" that has tons of info as to how to use the fests to launch yourself, which ones are the best to enter, all kinds of stuff like that. YOu should probably take a look. Unfortunately for us, one of the key pieces of advice in that book regarding shorts is that they be no longer than 10 minutes unless you really have something amazing to say.

Without buying that book, you can probably google around and find the top 10 (the 'A' list) festivals, and some 'B' listers too. A listers I can think of offhand are South by Southwest, Sundance, Toronto, Cannes. Can't recall the rest. Palm Springs is supposed to be the Sundance of shorts.

PS regarding your experience at the fest you attended with your friend, that's been my experience at most of the ones I've gotten into. There really aren't people who just go to film festivals on their own; they're usually there to see something specific. So if you want that something specific to be your film, you'll have to find a way to get the word out, as opposed to relying on a festival's built in audience. From what I've heard, this is not just limited to tiny fests. Even at the biggies, you still have to get people to come to your screening, as opposed to just expecting an audience to already be there.

PPS Many fests take shorts longer than 15 minutes, sometimes considering anything up to 59 minutes a short. The definition of what a short is in terms of length is up to the actual fest.

A great database of festivals, as well as a way to streamline the submission process can be found at withoutabox.com. It's a service (can be free, depending on what your needs are) that lets you search for fests, and submit online. A great many fests use it as their only way to submit. To decide where I would submit, I just went through pretty much their whole list, checking out each fest's website, and seeing if looked Bass-compatible.
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#7 Brian Drysdale

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Posted 08 January 2009 - 05:40 AM

There are multi award winning 25 min shorts, the one I know of was made by an experienced commercials director with key members of his regular crew. After this short he went on to make feature films. However, shorter is best and you stand a better chance of selection it's under 10 mins, if not 5 mins, certainly avoid going over 15 mins unless you've got an exceptional short.

I think it's much more difficult these days for the longer short to get selected, the successful longer shorts I know of were made 10 years ago.

Good marketing material and quality artwork on your submission DVD cover helps make your entry stand out from the crowd.

The factors that make a short stand out is the quality of the performances and the script rather the shooting format.
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#8 Milian M

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Posted 14 January 2009 - 01:08 AM

I also would like to know more about and commentaries in depth about my beginning opinion.

Can we brief the answer saying, Either you're good or you won't get what you want ? I was talking to my friends and they write things strongly personal or archaic, maybe their shorts are not interesting to producers. I guess, who would fund your film just because you want to make films ? Who you need to know go to Film Festival thinking about making money, not only about beholding lots of brand new short-films. Am I sure ? I have to be an artist, but I must have to know how to make a lot of money for them or else where will I get funding ? I think, even If my parents were millionaire, they wouldn't be enough crazy to fund my purely artistic feature film.

Edited by Milian M, 14 January 2009 - 01:11 AM.

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#9 Thomas Barndt

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Posted 15 January 2009 - 12:07 PM

Hey John

thanks for all the info.
Do you know if Sundance accepts miniDV for their shorts?
It did not say anything about the format on their website.

If you don't mind sharing, which festivals did you submit?

thanks so much,


Sundance and most of the US major fests will accept films regardless of what they originate on, if selected to Sundance you just have to provide either an HD version or a film print of your film. for most other fests digibeta versions will do. premiere status for a short is not a deal breaker, it's different with features.I've screened at sundance 2008,2009 afi 2007, 2008, cinevegas 06,07,08 and sxsw 2008
Tom
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#10 Henri Savolainen

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Posted 20 January 2009 - 07:44 PM

Some additional info or rant :) , regarding the issues tackled here

Sundance does, yes. A miniDV (DVX100) features, November, won an award there (cinematography, I think). Of course, it starred Courtney Cox and was shot by an ASC member. Will yours get in? Truthfully, likely no. That's the most sought after film fest in the world (I think), in terms of people trying to get in . They have something like 80 actual slots for films, and over 3000 entries a year.


Well, of course the odds are against you, if you send your film to Sundance. Last year, 2008, they received over 8000 entries, instead of just 3000. For example Tampere International Film Festival received 3000 entries. So, Sundance is even bigger than Mr.Bass tried to intimidate you with. But, here comes the inevitable but, there is no man who can before hand say whether a film is going to make Sundance, or any other film festival. Not even Hollywood studios can predict if a movie will be blockbuster or just a mediocre theater-release-ought-to-be-released-straight-to-DVD. What I'm trying to say, the factors in a films success are numerous, quite close to infinity. No one reject you from a film festival until the festival has rejected you. Let me remind you, there are so many great films and not so great films, shot on digital8, Mini-DV, 8mm, VHS, that have won several acclaimed prizes. Just last year in Cannes there was this Australian film, shot on Hi8, in competition for the Palme d'Or. So anyone can do it. The surest way not to do it, is not to send your film there. Of course, there's a whole lotta bunch of festivals, and you shouldn't waste your money too much. But send your film to 10 no-entry-fee festivals, and Sundance, Cannes or Berlin. Just for the fun of it. You get a few kicks thinking, what if? Just like buying a lottery ticket, you know you never gonna win, but you still buy it? Why, for the hope & dreams. But, still, it's your film, you gotta do what you gotta do.

Then, the question about film festivals excepting films shot Mini-DV / DV / something worse? Well, sure they do. All of them do.
Usually the regulations don't give a damn about what it's shot on, it's the screening copy/print they have their eyes on!
Almost every festival accepts DVD/DVCAM/DigiBeta preview copies, but quite often they require a film print for screenings and exhibitions, so that's where you loose the game. Besides, I've never seen film festival regulations that states anything about the original material that the film is shot on.

Are they going to take the film seriously if it's shot on miniDV? Possibly, if the story holds and the technical handicaps are surpassed by the drama in the film, it can go anywhere. Just make sure that the visual quality, technical quality and the story goes together. No one want's to see Blair Witch shot in IMAX or Matrix shot in 8mm.



By the way, if you DO submit to Sundance, they require your film to premiere in their fest. That means that if you submit, you have to wait to hear back from them before you submit anywhere else.


SHORTS COMPETITON (80-90 U.S. & International Short Films):
All short films are selected to play before features or in one of eight Shorts Programs,
and all accepted Shorts compete against each other in one single competition. A
narrative short film must have a total running time of 69 minutes or less (though we
recommend that narrative shorts be under 40 minutes), while a documentary short film
must have a total running time of 49 minutes or less. Short films may have been
screened at any number of other festivals or on the Internet. As of this year,
short films submitted forconsideration are also still eligible if they have been
broadcast on television or released on DVD prior to the Festival.

Edited by Henri Savolainen, 20 January 2009 - 07:47 PM.

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#11 Josh Bass

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Posted 21 January 2009 - 02:17 AM

Hey, cool! Well, then I might as well send this next one off, when I finally get it finished. I still think sending the 23-minute one is pointless.
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#12 Brian Drysdale

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Posted 21 January 2009 - 04:51 AM

Here is a short that got selected for this year's Sundance. It's 17 minutes long.

http://www.connorcle...s/Homepage.html

Looks like you should build up a strong foreign festival track record before submitting to Sundance.
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#13 Josh Bass

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Posted 21 January 2009 - 07:21 AM

Let me ask you this. . .which foreign countries, or festivals, would be more likely to accept something with very American humor? Some things are universal, and some things just don't translate well. Even in the same language.
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#14 Brian Drysdale

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Posted 21 January 2009 - 09:47 AM

Let me ask you this. . .which foreign countries, or festivals, would be more likely to accept something with very American humor? Some things are universal, and some things just don't translate well. Even in the same language.


Well, not all films are comedies.

American comedy does travel, you just have to check out the multiplexes in many countries, not counting all those TV comedy series sold worldwide.
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#15 Dan Durbin

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Posted 04 February 2009 - 08:33 PM

Josh,

Regarding short film length, there was a 40 minute Documentary Short film "I knew it was you" in Sundance last month. Having said that, I think you have to ask yourself whether you cut the film down. It is sometimes hard for us to cut out parts that we have grown to love.
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