Category Archives: film festivals

Filmmakers: Read the Rules Before You Submit!

A little rant, and hopefully if you’re reading this, you already know better. But perhaps you know someone who should read it. If so, do every festival programmer a favor and pass it on.

As you may or may not know, I am co-director of the NHdocs Film Festival at Yale. We are planning our second event for this June, and just signed on to FilmFreeway so people can submit their films.

Now, despite it stating that we were seeking Connecticut films and/or films from Connecticut filmmakers only in THREE different spots on our page (take a look HERE), out of the 12 films that were submitted in the first 24 hours, all were disqualified because the filmmakers didn’t bother reading the rules. Not a one had any connection to Connecticut. Not even in the most remote way.

Not here is something to take to heart, because it is an absolute fact. If you have ever submitted to a festival without reading the rules and regulations, you are a fucking idiot. Period. End of story. I would smack you upside the head and break your camera if I could.

If you have spent all the time it takes to actually make a film, you should be looking for the right home for your baby. Sort of like finding the right college for your teenager. You should read everything there is to know about any fest that you’re considering. Look at what films have played in previous years. You should feel in your gut that yes, your film is a fit, and that the programmers will like it. You still might not get accepted, but at least you’ve done your homework.

If you don’t, you are wasting everyone’s time.

I reached out to a few of my programming friends this morning to vent. And every single one said it happens all the time. Many do not read the rules, or care what the festival is looking for.

If you’re one of these idiots, shame on you. You’re officially too stupid to make another film. Time to go back to bagging my groceries.

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Rock & Roll Hall of Fame…or bust!

OK…so COLOR ME OBSESSED, A FILM ABOUT THE REPLACEMENTS never got into Sundance or SXSW…but it’s screening at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame on December 12th.  Its DVD charted at #11 on Billboard’s music video chart this week.  It was in the top ten for most of last week on Amazon.  And we’ve sold out copies everywhere.  So…

Take heart fellow filmmakers.  If you work your film.  If you treat it like a business once completed.  If you get off your ass and not wait for “deals” to come to you, if you not rely on film festivals.  If you realize that the work doesn’t not stop once the film is complete, that you’ve got another year or two to go.  Well, then, good things might actually happen.

Great things even.

DVD sleeve for COLOR ME OBSESSED, A FILM ABOUT THE REPLACEMENTS

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Filed under film festivals, filmmaking, rock and roll hall of fame, Sundance

The Black & White Rules of Indie Filmmaking – part 13

13. Film Festivals – part 1

I’ve already two blog posts on how no to be a film fest douche. They are here and here. Study them. I’ve spent a lot of time taking to the people who run film festivals. They’re usually the ones at the fests I spend most time talking to. I know of which I speak.

Ok, now the first news flash. You’re not getting into Sundance. Not unless you have a major star, a major studio behind you, a major film rep, or your parents are rich and famous. But if you have one of those things, you probably aren’t reading my blog.

But y’know what? Submit anyway. It’s like buying a Lotto ticket. You can’t win if you don’t play. And sure there’re probably 4 slots saved for the almost 5000 feature submissions. And Lady Luck might be one your side.
Submit to SlamDance, if you’re a first time director. Submit to SXSW. Likewise for Tribeca and Toronto. And of course Los Angeles. And if your film is a documentary add Hot Docs and Silver Docs to that list. Those are the no-brainers. Those are your lottery tickets. But don’t hold your breath. And you probably are not going to submit to them all. If you’ve finishing your film and it’s November . . . and you’ve missed the Sundance deadline . . . do not wait a whole ten months to start submitting. Move on, submit to the next on the calendar list, and save Sundance for the next movie. Use common sense, there is no reason to let a film sit for almost a year. Even you will forget about it. And by that point you should be knee-deep in production with your next film anyway.

Ok, those submissions are in the mail. Now let’s find the fest that is actually going to screen your film. And here you need to do homework. There are literally thousands of film festivals. You need to find the ones that are a perfect match. You need to research what they’ve played in the past, what other filmmakers say about them. If all they do is play film with known actors, and seem to promote all their red carpet parties on their website, your little no-name film is not a good match. If they like art or foreign fare, your torture porn horror film is not making the cut. Hell, I know first hand, even if they specialize in rock docs, your critically acclaimed rock doc which breaks all the rules is not getting in. Really study the films they’ve accepted.

Likewise, look for warning signs. If you read filmmaking after filmmaker complaining about their treatment, bad projection, disorganization, take that as a red flag, and do not submit. There are plenty of fests that have their shit together, and who love well-made films, even without stars. But there are also festivals that don’t even acknowledge your presence when you’ve flown a thousand or more miles to attend and do a Q&A. There are festivals that project your 16×9 feature in 2:35, or worse 4:3. Watch the brilliant film OFFICIAL REJECTION to witness one of the most offensive film festivals of all time. (Actually, watch OFFICIAL REJECTION because it’s an amazing film on the film fest world. It is a MUST SEE.)

Remember festival submission fees are not cheap. I’ve dropped between $3 to $5 thousand dollars on submission fees for past features. (That’s PER film, not what I spent on all of them.) And you’re on a tighter budget than that.

Also, if you’ve gotten into a few fests, won awards, or have amazing press, forget the fees, email the festival directors, tell them all about your film, and it’s acolaids, tell them how you feel the film would be a great fit for their festivals, send a trailer link, and finally ask for a waiver of their fees. Worst case, they say no or never answer. But after 6 months on the circuit with COLOR ME OBSESSED, I decided no more fees. And it worked. A good email, backed by packed houses and great press, and guess what, we got waivers. With my Archers of Loaf doc I decided no fees at all. So far, so good. We premiered at NXNE in Toronto last week, played another Canadian film/music fest on Monday, and are having our American premiere at the CBGB’s Festival in July.

Next up: more on life after you’ve wrapped

My filmography.

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Another rule on how not to be a filmmaking douche bag…

Still talking film festivals here.

I was down in Tampa for the world premiere of Color Me Obsessed at a festival where my own Friends (With Benefits) won best feature the year before. I was waiting in line like everyone else to get into the closing night film, talking to a friend and one of the volunteers. Suddenly the director of another doc that was playing the fest (a doc that also played HBO), interrupts, and rudely announces that she’s a filmmaker, and she wasn’t about to stand in this line. I’m not joking here, she was really rude.

The volunteer of course brought her into the theater, and as she walked away I said (a lot louder than I thought), “what a fucking cunt.” No one in line disagreed.

I hold to that sentiment. And actually wished I had found myself on a filmmaking panel with her, because I would have gladly told her to her face.

There’s no reason to behave as she behaved. It certainly won’t make anyone in line want to see your film. It certainly won’t make the fest organizers want you back. (Or course, she was dealing with a volunteer, whom I’m sure she felt was subhuman.)

There’s just no excuse. Treat people that you yourself would want to be treated. Seems like common sense. Doesn’t it? (Perhaps they should teach THAT in film schools. And remove “Entitlement 101” from the curriculum.)

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A few rules on how not to be a filmmaking douche bag…

I’ve been on the festival circuit now on and off since YOU ARE ALONE broke in 2005. Lately even more so because I seem to have hit a nerve with COLOR ME OBSESSED. And I’ve realized that a lot of my fellow filmmakers are, well, douche bags. Plain and simple.

“What makes them so douchy?” you ask. Well, two things in particular in regards to festivals.

1. Most festival are limited in the amount they can spend on bringing filmmakers to their weekend of film. So, it’ll usually be a handful of us mingling. Now, I will always try and see everyone’s film. Attend the Q&A’s. Even ask questions. I try to get involved. I’m there to work. Festivals might seem like a vacation. Ask my wife, they’re anything but. You have to be on, you have to schmooze, you have to be selling yourself and your film every moment. Part of that involves seeing other films, supporting other filmmakers. I’ve even been told by fest directors that every time they turn around they see me walking into a screening. And nothing makes them happier. But what pisses me off (and even more so fest directors) are the filmmakers who take all the travel perks, come into town, screen their film, do a half-assed Q&A (you can always tell the douche bags by their Q&A’s), then sleep, drink, sightsee…basically do anything BUT watch other films. They expect you to watch their masterpieces. But can they return the favor? No. Of course not. (And these are usually the same film school assholes who at their Q&A expound on how filmmaking is such a collaborative art form, and how great it is to be involved in the filmmaking community. HORSESHIT!) These filmmakers annoy the piss out of me because they don’t realize filmmaking is a job. Instead of being thankful for being flown and put up in a strange town, they believe it’s deserved. Such is their sense of entitlement. Of course these are always the one “hit” wonders who soon discover filmmaking isn’t for them, and are soon making bad cappuccinos at Starbucks. Karma is a beautiful thing!

2. The other inexcusably douchy thing filmmakers do all the time: cancel on festivals at the last minute. I know one fest director who paid for flights and rooms for three members of a specific filmmaking team, only to have them not show. And look, I know shit happens. But fellow filmmakers, unless someone VERY close to you is dead or in the hospital dying, likewise for yourself, or unless you house burned to the ground, THERE IS NO EXCUSE. You’re fucking over not only a fest director who liked your work enough to invite it to their fest (and remember the director of a small fest today, is often running a much larger fest tomorrow), but also the audience who might have wanted to ask you a few questions. And mostly you’re fucking yourself in so many unpleasant ways. The fest director has identified you as a douche, and will never go near one of your films again. They’ll spread the word to other fest directors that you are Douche of the Year on their short list. Plus you lose the chance to mingle with potential fans, potential buyers of DVDs and VOD. And you miss out on sleeping through the screenings of the other filmmakers, which you would have skipped anyway.

Actually the more I think about it. The festival, the other filmmakers, and even the patrons, are better off without you there. Stay home. Practice your barista skills. They’re going to come in handy for you one day.

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The making of COLOR ME OBSESSED – PART 19

Our first official press release, our first four screenings…

March 7, 2011

Documentary on indie-rock legends The Replacements set to premiere.

NEW HAVEN, CONNECTICUT & TAMPA, FLORIDA: COLOR ME OBSESSED, the first documentary about famed 80’s indie-rock band The Replacements, will have its World Premiere at the 5th annual Gasparilla International Film Festival in Tampa, Florida. Gorman Bechard, the film’s director, took top honors at last year’s GIFF with his romantic-comedy FRIENDS (WITH BENEFITS).

Told through the eyes of fans, friends, and contemporaries, COLOR ME OBSESSED breaks from the traditional music documentary format of music and performances. Not looking to make a VH1/where-are-they-now style documentary Bechard took a unique approach, “I decided to present the band in a more iconic way,” he explains. “I thought, people believe in God without seeing or hearing him but rather through the passion, faith, and stories of others. After watching COLOR ME OBSESSED, I’m pretty sure music fans will believe in The Replacements in much the same way.”

Telling the band’s story was a project close to the heart for Bechard. Like many who were weaned on punk music he latched onto this brash young Minneapolis band with fervor. Dubbed “the last best band” by Spin Magazine, their live shows could be miraculous or downright disasters. Their fans, unwaveringly faithful. As critic’s darlings, their albums were wrought with angry guitars and passionate well-written lyrics that hinted at potential commercial success. Yet, somehow, the band managed to continually shoot themselves in the foot. Their relative obscurity was a motivating factor in presenting their story on film. “The Replacements should have been the next Rolling Stones,” Bechard says, “And to the people who loved them, I think they were.”

Combining over 140 interviews with rockers (Colin Meloy of The Decemberists, Craig Finn of The Hold Steady, Tommy Ramone, Grant Hart and Greg Norton of Husker Du, all three members of Goo Goo Dolls), journalists (Robert Christgau, Legs McNeil, Ira Robbins, Greg Kot, Jim DeRogatis), and fans both famous (Tom Arnold, Dave Foley, George Wendt) and not, Bechard delivers the obsessive tale of the most influential band you’ve never heard of, The Replacements. And though containing not one note of their music, COLOR ME OBSESSED is a documentary that really rocks.

COLOR ME OBSESSED screens on Saturday, March 26th at 7:30 PM at the Gasparilla International Film Festival in Tampa, FL. On Saturday, April 2nd at 6:45 PM at the Wisconsin Film Festival in Madison, WI. On Friday, April 15th at the Chicago International Movies & Music Festival in Chicago, IL. And on Wednesday, May 4th in Minneapolis, MN as a special presentation of Sound Unseen’s monthly screening series.

For more info on COLOR ME OBSESSED please visit: http://www.ColorMeObsessed.com
For more on the director please visit: http://www.GormanBechard.com or contact us using the information provided below:

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Filed under chicago, Color Me Obsessed, film festivals, filmmaking, madison wi, minneapolis, rockumentary, tampa florida, the replacements

The making of COLOR ME OBSESSED – part 11

Over the holidays last year, two old friends joined the production team: Dean Falcone, whom I’ve known for about three decades, and who co-wrote the score for FRIENDS (WITH BENEFITS), and Ed Valauskas, whom I first met when he played bass so many eons ago in amazing band Gravel Pit. Both have countless connections in the music industry. They would get us to many of the rockers who would so make this film work.

Our second day of filming interviews for COLOR ME OBSESSED was actually set up by Ed. Wednesday, January 27, 2010. Heading north this time, up to Boston. Five interviews in all, three of them taking place at the Q Division Studios. (Thank you very much!)

Only Adrian and I would make trip up. It being a weekday, Jim needed to work. It would actually be just Adrian and myself for a while, or at least until Sarah said, “I want to learn about video.”

The first interview would take place at 11 AM…so we hit the road at 7:30, just in case there was traffic or construction in and around Boston. (Like that could ever happen.)

First up: George Skaubitis, who worked radio promotions for Warner Brothers. George was very quiet and subdued, but he gave me one amazing quote, part of which you can see in the second trailer right here, calling the band a “glorious mess.” It was a short interview, but I’ll always take quality over quantity.

Next up was Dave Minehan of The Neighborhoods…

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Filed under alternative rock, Color Me Obsessed, directing, documentaries, film festivals, filmmaking, friends with benefits, gorman bechard, independent film, indie, low budget films, low budget movies, minneapolis, paul westerberg, punk rock, replacements, rock n roll, rockumentary, sarah hajtol, the replacements