Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Road Trip to Stuttgart*

My last short film, "The Perfect Detonator", got accepted to a second major film festival. This time it's the Stuttgart Animation Festival.

There are so many festivals to choose from, and it's hard to know what to pick. My strategy was to spend the first year sending the film only to the top festivals in the world. I chose those by looking at the Academy Awards list of festivals that they draw their Best Animated Short contenders from. If you win at one of those festivals, you're longlisted for an Academy Award. Not that I expect that to happen, but it seems like they're probably good festivals.

I used to have a dream of winning an Academy Award for Best Animated Short; then I realized that the Academy nominates a lot of films that I really don't think are the best of the year. Many of them are more on the easy-watching "cartoon" side of animation, with a simple message and lots of visual gags. It doesn't make sense to strive for a public perception of "success", when I would have to make films that didn't completely represent me to do it. That feels like an empty kind of goal that would probably never make me feel fulfilled. My next film is going to be even less festival-friendly, I think. That's going to be an interesting struggle- to make a film I'm proud of, but knowing that it's going to really challenge the audience.

The best thing about getting into a festival for me is knowing that a certain number of discerning folk appreciated the film enough to think it's worth sharing. That's a huge compliment.

The second best thing is that more people get to see my film. I made it to share, and I love showing it. Getting the film into big festivals means it's easier to get it into smaller festivals, and sometimes you can get the entrance fee waived, so it becomes cheaper for me to share my film.

Also, having big festivals attached to the film's name means I might be able to make better deals with distributors, and they will have an easier time shopping the film around.

*Title provided by Chris Huggins, Master of Wit.

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