Re-Evaluating Festivals

It’s been several weeks since my last update to this blog, significantly later than I had promised to provide an update on the decision made by the Chicago International Film Festival. The truth is that I felt I needed to take a bit of time to process the experience before writing anything too in depth about it.

In short, both ms and me and Lights were not selected to be shown at the Chicago International Film Festival. While that news is sad to hear, it’s not the hardest bit to grasp. I’m used to rejection. I had an idea that this would be the notification I received when the selection process was complete.

The part that’s most upsetting to me, and the reason that I needed to take the time to reflect before writing about my feelings on the experience, is that I feel like my films didn’t even get fair consideration. It’s more than just a feeling actually. I know that my films didn’t get fair consideration.

When I submitted both films to this particular festival, I uploaded them as password protected videos on Vimeo. Due to the weekly upload limit on Vimeo, I uploaded ms and me to my own account, and I had the producer upload Lights to his Vimeo account, both as private videos which could only be accessed by a password. I would eventually go on to upload Lights to my own account, which I used to promote the film when it was released, and I used my original upload of ms and me to promote it when it was released as well. That original, private upload of Lights, however, remained as it was: password protected and only viewable by the Chicago International Film Festival. 

This private video is the reason that I know for a fact that my films were not given fair consideration. This private upload of Lights remained stagnant at 0 views, until September 2nd, only 2 days before the final selection decisions were made. By that time, the Chicago International Film Festival had already released their first list of films that had been selected. Of course, these included films with established names as actors, such as Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara, in a film produced by The Weinstein Company.

It seems apparent to me that my films were brushed off because of the low budget they were created with. As I mentioned before, I had a good feeling that my films wouldn’t be selected very early on, but I never would have thought that they wouldn’t have even been given a chance. It’s upsetting. It’s a waste of my money to submit to a festival that doesn’t even care about most of its submissions.

The Chicago International Film Festival has made me completely re-evaluate my thoughts on submitting to film festivals because it was such an awful experience. I’ve always looked at the festival selection process as a way for people in the industry to at least watch my films. I figured, even if they weren’t selected, at least someone had seen it. Now I can’t even say that with confidence. People in my position just don’t have the ability to spend money on all these submission fees if they won’t even be given fair consideration.

I don’t know whether to consider this as a positive or negative thing. Am I fortunate or unfortunate to know how the Chicago International Film Festival treated my submissions? I certainly don’t have the ability to see how the other festivals I’ve submitted to are considering my films, but I can only imagine it’s similar. It’s a very upsetting thought process.

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