Thursday, December 1, 2011

Your Film Can Find a Home Without a Nomination or Sundance Premiere

My head is spinning at all the nominations from the Independent Spirit Awards to the Sundance acceptances. Everything comes full circle in December when the films from the year get nominated and new films are chosen to be launched at Sundance. It's overwhelming. And such an exciting time for the indie film biz.

I am the first to applaud those who are nominated for an indie spirit award and selected for Sundance. A few are close friends and I couldn't be happier for them - congrats guys! I will be rooting for you! They deserve the accolades. Every single filmmaker whose film makes the cut deserves to be there. Making a movie is tough business and we should all be congratulated for even completing a film.

At this time of year, we filmmakers have to remember that it's tough competition and that a large number of worthy titles don't make the Spirit Awards or Sundance cut. Hang in there.

None of my films (I had 1 submitted for a spirit award and 2 for Sundance) were chosen for these honorable slots this year - alas. But I know I share the pain with about a few thousand other filmmakers, which takes the bite out of the sting. Still sucks, but it's not the end of the world by any stretch.

Why does it suck? Well, anytime your project can be singled out as something to watch, it helps give your project exposure which can lead to an easier time finding distribution and a wider audience etc. And while it's okay my title didn't make the cut, it still sucks. It makes my life harder. Does that mean my project is bad. Hell no. It just means that the programmers or selection committee felt that other films fit their mandate better.

When our films don't make the cut, we have to get even more creative about how to get our titles to stand out. But in the end, we do usually find the means to access our audience. Each film has its own journey. It's one of the things about filmmaking that I absolutely love - discovering the journey for a film.

Though my film Not Since You only played a couple of smaller festivals, it found its audience and has sold worldwide - Italy LOVES it and that's so cool. Take Me Home launched at Nashville (a great festival) and has been doing amazingly well on the festival circuit with 5 awards to date. And when I thought our festival run was over, it picked right back up with requests from more festivals. So awesome. And we are signing a domestic deal this week that includes a small theatrical.

The moral of the story is that while it would be awesome to be nominated for a spirit award or play at Sundance, your film can still have a great life if it doesn't achieve either. So don't get too sad about not making the cut. You're in good company. Use that energy to kick ass on getting your film in front of your audience in other ways.

Good luck! I'm rooting for you!


Jentri said...

I agree!! Congrats on your success & ambition to thrive on your own terms!!! J

Sharon Wright said...

Last year I made a 10 minute short, my first film, which MANY of the IFC people helped on! We didn't get into any of the "big" festivals and had some luck on the smaller fest circuit. When I ran out of money (quickly) I decided to put it on Youtube, hoping I'd get maybe 3 or 4 hundred views, tonight we will cross ONE MILLION, literally worldwide!

The biggest thing though is that today Roger Ebert posted about it in his Ebert Club newsletter stating:
From the Grand Poobah (Ebert): My friend Bill Nack, the great sportswriter, emailed me this video with only four words: "This one touched me." It touched me, too. Sharon Wright. Remember that name."

Not too shabby for a little nothing film that is making BIG news.

I just wanted to share that with you - that even if a film doesn't get attention on the festival circuit - there is still an audience, and sometimes it is a lot bigger than you realize!

Here is a link to the film:

All my best,

Sharon Wright

janekk said...

Congrats Sharon! That's wonderful to hear. I completely agree that your audience may be out there and be BIG and you don't even know it. That's why you should never give up and don't let a Sundance rejection sour your energy behind your film. Sundance is not the end all, be all by any stretch!

janekk said...

thanks Jentri for your kind words!