Actor Zoe Kravetz & Director V. Mahoney on set
Nutter season is officially upon us.
We've entered the stretch of announcement time for top tier festivals in the first quarter of 2011.
I know fourteen narrative filmmakers and five Doc filmmakers, who applied to the January festival.
I know nine films/filmmakers, who applied to the February festival.
I know eleven filmmakers, who applied to the March festival.
This past week begins the first round of everyone getting their phone call of acceptance or email of rejection, or the dreaded soul ache of silence.
Weeks like this (occur in cycles throughout the year) testing our sense of safety, deceiving our internal knowing.
If a filmmaker's blog on an indie site is valuable for anything then let it be the truth no? As my friends and I comfort and guide each other's overall long term navigation regarding appropriate launch toward optimum filmic needs per individual goals, I am compelled to break code and say something out loud for ye' up and coming filmmakers;
Actor Gabourey Sibide on set
THE WHERE AND WHY OF FESTIVAL LAUNCH IS F*CKING MYTH. LEGEND. FOLKLORE. I have watched over a decade, every quarter of every year, filmmakers' spirits get busted, yanked and thrown asunder into the crushing heartbreak of "festival" rejection.
The way I see it, the only thing "we're waiting on" is a human being to connect with our story in such a manner, that their need to support the film's existence in the world, matches ours.
The search is absolutely no different from hunting; DP, LP, UPM, PD, AD, CD, LS, financing, cast and so on.
If I insisted on hunting cast and crew based on their connection to the story, then why wouldn't I also be looking for the equivalent in sales reps, festival launch, distributors? [Full stop].
Billy [Mullligan, Yelling producer] and I, have made some unconventional decisions up for debate, based on one private unflinching need. He and I made a pact at the gate for Yelling to the Sky. (Every film has different needs, our job is to know what those needs are up front, get them met, protect them to the wire and never settle for less.)
The hiccups in our giddyup happen during moments of exhaustion when the veneer and seduction of name "brand" holds a perceived promise of "safety".
Our nasty, rough, dirty, uncomfortable, dark, messy, complicated job at this point of [finish] is the exact same as it was at the point of [start]. We are responsible to L I S T EN.
We have to listen in each arena of decision making, beyond household names, brands and tiers. We have to listen between consonants and vowels. We have to listen to what is not said. We have to listen to what is withheld. We have to listen to behavior and gesture. We have to listen to pauses and repetition. We have to listen to our insides. We have to listen to the original intention for telling the story. We have to listen to the nexus wail for becoming storytellers.
The lie is; that a film will sink or swim based on an acceptance or rejection.
Actor Shareeka Epps & crew on set
The lie is; that "a" programmer's interest is not subconsciously subjective to their life experience. In so much as, they're human and innocently may connect to what excites "them" not necessarily what excites "us".
Dare we discuss how much of that excitement is also business based? Past relationships, sponsor's dollar and audience's dollar. Enormous factors having absolutely nothing to do with the film you bled and died a thousand deaths for. All kinds of shit we will never know, that has nothing to do with us, our talent or our film. That is certain.
Fortunately it is also certain that when we decide to lead with our original intention, [mine is "to tell stories, allowing people safety to feel."] What happens before, during and after steady allegiance to my intention, truthfully, isn't any of my business.
I am responsible to a teeny, corny lil wish to [allow an exchange between celluloid and human] to the best of my ability, in the given circumstances, with the given tools, in the given time.
Far as I can see, what we, filmmakers are really waiting for (if anything) isn't confirmation or approval or industry "aww/awe".
During festival announcement season, indie filmmakers are waiting, via programmers for the same damn thing we're always waiting for;
A person, to hear what we've said, through lens, through performance, through cinematography, through word, through blocking, through locations, through wardrobe, through edit, through sound, through score, through color correct, through...just through...we're simply waiting for someone to see us through.
So as we commandeer a respectful, deserved launch. What say, we continue using pre pro-post pro rejections to ignite will and feed purpose.
What if you were to walk in, trust that rejection - on any level of getting a film made - is clarity of what does not--belong.
If this winter quarter of announcements brings you heartbreak, how about you get yourself a nice sized bag of ice cubes, walk to an empty alley, and smash the ice cubes (along with ego) against the wall. Cuss and yell and stomp and howl.
After you smash the last ice cube, turn around and give THANKS TO THOSE WHO REJECT YOU, WITH THE SAME PRAISE FOR THOSE WHO ACCEPT YOU. Have a party, doing mental-laundry; go down the list and thank all the actors who rejected you, the DP's, the sorted crew, thank the financiers who rejected you, the producers, the post houses, the sales reps, the publicists, the lawyers, thank the festival programmers who rejected you, the distributors and the critics.
Individually thank whoever uttered "no". They too, are our teachers. They too, are helping us get where our film intends to be.
Lace your bootstraps and walk on, let it go.
Your energy, focus, fight and heart are needed in progression.
Last but not least, let's give three cheers to our mates, who are catching light before and beside us...
About the Author: Victoria Mahoney spent one year at Southampton University, dabbling in Fine Art and World Lit before hightailing West. Where she spent three years doing art installations at Tower Records, while informally auditing Poli Sci and all things Feature Narrative at U.C.L.A. Coming back to New York for twice weekly classes with Marcia Haufrecht, inspired a seat working under Shelley Winters at the Actor’s Studio. After years of Theater, TV, Indie and Studio features, world travel and residences in Paris, Italy and Morocco, she relentlessly thrust herself down the filmmaking rabbit hole with mentor guidance from Hubert Selby JR.. Honing her strengths; writing countless One Acts, lensing a couple Documentaries and directing short film upon short film. Mahoney is a 2006 Sundance Institute Lab Alumn, 2006 Auerbach Fellow, 2006 Maryland Fellow, 2009 Annenberg Fellow and 2010 Cinereach Fellow. She is currently in post-production on her first feature film, YELLING TO THE SKY.