It feels strange to say this but I have been a part of putting seven film festivals together (eight if you count my involvement for the Flint Film Festival in 2005). Heck, I met my wife through a film festival. It started with the horror group I was a part of and our showing short horror films at each of the conventions then evolved into our becoming a film festival and now I have my own little festival of weird – Flint Short Film Freakout.
I absolutely love being able to bring horror from around the world to people who may not have a chance to see it otherwise. Sure, you can always look most things up but unless someone covers every short film and then someone else finds that coverage most of these movies go unseen. They serve simply as passion projects, or calling cards. Having made a couple of shorts myself and having worked on some, I know how much time, money, and passion go into these. Most of these films are unpaid for the crew and come off as a loss for the filmmaker unless they are able to find an outlet to sell copies of it. You can try to get them seen at festivals but so many of them price out the average filmmaker for a submission fee that I am not sure many choose to afford the cost. Especially when there’s a slim chance they’ll be shown.
I know I submitted my two several and had to target the lower entry fee ones and only got one short shown at one festival.
I get it, to a degree.
Each festival has its own vibe and audience they are targeting.
They have their own criteria as to what they want to show.
It’s like finding a publisher or an agent or a whatever.
It feels like so much gatekeeping, and it is, but it’d be nice if once in a while the gate opened.
I feel AWFUL when I have to reject (most) movies. I feel guilty because who am I to judge a film as ‘good’ or ‘bad’, so I just judge if they are a good fit or not. I know what I am going for and what I think will work for this area and I look for that. I try to capture a wide spectrum of what horror is, from funny to weird to scary to gross to ridiculous. It all has a place under the tent.
I’m not sure it does much for the filmmakers whose work is shown but I like to think that it at least gives them the drive to keep pushing and fighting. I hope that that small glimmer gives them a little push forward.
I do my best to keep the entry fee low – one buck – so people can afford it, but don’t want to make it free because there needs to be SOME sort of gate or you just get inundated with all manner of films that don’t fit what you’re trying to do at all. I have seen that happen. And have seen how flooded you get with movies.
Which sounds like a great problem to have but over the course of a day I showed 47 shorts this year, out of 150. One year we got 1100 films, which was insane and had to be watched by a very small handful of us.
It’s a time sink, to be sure, but it’s worth it.
For me at least.
That’s also a key reason the festival was free.
It always seems weird to make money on a space you get for free, but in this case, it was about the community and the fans.
Whatever that means to someone.
I know that as a kid, as a teen, and as a younger adult I wish there were some of the events going on that I have been a part of.
I wish there was more horror and film events in this area that I connected with.
Hopefully someone out there gets something out of all of this or else I am sorta singing into a mirror.
Who can say.
I know that not a lot of folks come to these things, but for those that do, I am glad that these events are there for them. That there’s something there.
I know I love being able to bring the world to Flint though through these short films, and to show that at our cores, we’re the same, and that’s what matters most.