Monday, December 03, 2007
The Sundance Film Festival Doesn't Care About You
Isn't about time to just ignore the lameness that is the modern day Sundance Film Festival. Honestly, it's been years since anyone broke into the biz with a film that premiered there. As Sundance honcho Geoff Gilmore says, there are way too many submissions-8,500 or so trying to find a place with only 200 slots. And many of these are already taken up by films that have done well at the Toronto Film Festival or had powerful lobbyists from the mini-major studios and reps like John Sloss putting their heavy weight behind them. The concept of an INDEPENDENT FILM has shifted over the years to mean films in the 5-6 million dollar range with well-known stars trying to do a little acting. There is a chasm, a vast abyss of a difference between Little Miss Sunshine and Clerks or The Blair Witch Project. What used to be an INDEPENDENT FILM is now called MICROCINEMA and contrary to their claims, Sundance does not support that kind of backyard, DIY film anymore. Dust Sundance from your thoughts like that machine in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and put your energies into self promotion, online distribution and festivals that do support your efforts like South by Southwest or Cinevegas. Go to Filmmaker Lance Weiler's great WORKBOOK PROJECT.COM and learn more about what it takes to be an independent filmmaker 2.0
In the meantime, someone on the MYSPACE film forums posted their Sundance "Dear John" letter which must go out to about 8,300 folks right before Christmas. I'm sincerely sorry that he was rejected and hope he won't be too discouraged. Since I've never actually seen one of these, I really appreciate his candor in posting it. Perhaps it was cathartic for him. Here's the letter with a few comments from me that I think will help translate this from the language of B.S.
On behalf of our programming staff(Since I did not actually watch your film), I would like to thank you for submitting your film to the 2008 Sundance Film Festival. Unfortunately, we are not able to include it in our program this year(Nor were we ever really considering it-thank you for your $35 submission fee-we enjoyed the lunch). We received nearly one thousand more submissions this year (over 8,500 in total) than we did for the 2007 Festival(Which was really great for us, thank you, since that's another $35,000 in our pockets), so many tough decisions had to be made in order to narrow the field down to under 200 films. Please rest assured that your work was carefully considered by our programming team(And be comforted that we have not wasted your submission since Stan is now using your DVD as a coaster), and the decision was incredibly difficult to say the least(Well, that's the least we could say).
My sincere hope is that this decision does not discourage you in any way(But please, really, do the world a favor and stop making films NOW). I would like to wish you the best of luck with your film(Good Luck with that), and we look forward to having the opportunity to view your work in the future(We hope you will send us another $35 next year).
Director, Sundance Film Festival