Friday, March 28, 2008

A Reader Responds/AF Tip of the Day

I received this email and I asked the author's permission to copy part of it on my blog. He asked me not to use his name which is cool. I think his experience is pretty interesting….

"Upon reading your latest blog posting ("Sundance Institute") I just had to finally send an email and say thanks. I can’t tell you the number of times I have read your blog and found the ideas and thoughts expressed there so parallel with mine. There are times when I don’t 100% agree with you, but many times it feels like I’m having a conversation with myself. With regards to the Sundance posting, it’s really great that you told this little story and actually posted the survey and your answers. People need to really know what goes on there and at other similar places who claim to be about independent filmmaking. I live and work in New York and if you don’t mind I’d like to share my own Sundance story with you:

Now, I’ve submitted a couple short films to Sundance (that were rejected) and I’ve also applied to their Directing/Screenwriting Labs. When I first moved to NYC I took a position at an independent film production company whose producers have had some well-known success in "the industry" and who have deep connections with the IFP. Well, to make a long story short, while I was working there one of the producers received a phone call from, I presume, someone at the Sundance Institute. Now, of course I only heard one side of this conversation, but from what I heard I could safely conclude that the purpose of this phone call was to help Sundance find "untapped, up and coming talent" for their Directing/Screenwriting Labs. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. It seems that Sundance was calling their "insider friends" to see if they knew of particular filmmakers they could tap for the Labs. So here I am, a filmmaker with few major connections, who had applied to the Labs via the normal application process and paid the application fee with my hard earned money and now I’m discovering that Sundance is basically "inviting" or planning to invite directors who are well-known through these "insiders." This didn’t completely surprise me since I know Sundance does this with many of the films that screen at the festival, but I was still somewhat floored by this reality and definitely disappointed that my application would be overlooked in lieu of this other method of finding talent.

This is just one of many stories that have proven to me how incestuous the so-called "industry" is, and this goes for the so-called "independent" film world as well. I know you don’t need me to tell you all this, but it’s just one of those things that really frustrates me."

Thanks for your story man. I am sure lots of others have stories like this. Basically, Sundance isn't about "Independents", it's just another little club that wants to be exclusive.

So if you do submit anything to them, this is what you're up against.

We don't need them, and I sure as hell don't wish to play in their sand box.

And now, Your AF Tip of the Day.

You’re not going to get much accomplished the first day of shooting. That’s when a lot of logistical problems and all sorts of other stuff start to happen.
- - from The Angry Filmmaker Survival Guide (coming in Spring 2008)


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