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Considering Film School? How to Choose the Best Film School?

According to Statistics and Facts About the Film Industry, the digital media industry shows healthy projections for the upcoming years. It is estimated that the film industry will increase from about $38 billion in 2016 to nearly $50 billion in 2020. From this increase in revenue, it is evident that the media industry is prospering. Those who are looking for employment within the film industry are in a good position in terms of their career choices. Before getting behind the camera and filming your soon-to-be Oscar nominated film, you must decide which film school to attend.

 

·      How does one choose the best program?

·      How much are you willing to spend?

·      Do you prefer a formal education based on theory or is hands-on training more important?

These are all great questions to ask yourself.

Here are several points to consider when choosing or considering a film school:

 

 

Who are your teachers?

 

When universities select professors and lecturers for their institution an emphasis is placed on their academic achievement. Although these faculty members are able to provide their students with theoretical knowledge, in many cases they lack real world experience. A professor can educate his/her student about film history but not how to produce a film. If a student only has access to the theoretical aspects of film, they may never get the chance to produce their own content.  A student should therefore consider investing in more practical training in digital media rather than the university option. Film training schools select their teachers and lecturers based on their industry experience. With this industry experience, teachers are able to create a curriculum that focuses more on the technical aspects of film. They are more “in-tune” with the evolution of technology, which the film industry heavily relies on.

 

Hands-on time

 

In a world filled with endless evolving cameras, physically shooting a film is not rocket science. Lights, camera, ACTION….and hit the record button, right? Although it might appear to be this simple, practice is what allows an amateur to become a professional. When shooting a film one must consider the following: lighting, camera movement, frame rate, shutter speed, and sound recording.

Professionals from the film industry know that hands-on training is essential to a good production. Allowing students to get sufficient lab time is crucial. University students can find themselves struggling to find this practice time, while students in film training schools have the advantage of being exposed to more lab time due to small class sizes.

 

Affordability

 

Unfortunately, a university education in filmmaking is usually on the pricey side. Your tuition can be as expensive as $50,000 per semester. A film training school like Digital Film Academy on the other hand, only charges students $17,995 per year, which can potentially save you from large student debt. In addition, Digital Film Academy provides its students with free access to filming tools.

 

Career Prospects

 

Although the film industry has healthy projections for the upcoming years, the film industry currently has a competitive job market. Once students have graduated from their chosen film schools, how will they find employment? Film schools like Digital Film Academy provide students with access to a job board. Instead of waiting to graduate before finding employment, these Digital Film Academy students are eligible to apply for these jobs even during their studies.

 

Choosing the right film school may be an easy or difficult decision to make. It depends on the size of your pockets, the content that is being taught, and how you will use this knowledge. If you find yourself struggling to make a decision, remember that a top quality school will provide you with:

  • Valuable courses
  • Hands-on training
  • Teachers with industry experience
  • Job opportunities

 

Digital Film Academy will provide you with all of the above.

 

Click here to find out more about DFA: Why DFA?

 

Reference:

Statistics and facts about the film industry. (2016) https://www.statista.com/topics/964/film/

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Must-See Movie: Rosemary’s Baby

I saw Rosemary’s Baby as a kid and remembered being disappointed. The Satan makeup was cheesy and, overall, I declared it “not scary.” But a filmmaker friend raved about it so passionately that I decided to give it another shot, as an adult…

Quite simply, it’s one of the best movies I’ve ever seen.

In fact, I found it so powerful that I just sat in quietly after it ended and then spent the next couple of days reading articles about its deeper meanings.

The best horror movies are usually about “other issues.” The zombies really represent communism and so on… Rosemary’s Baby is widely thought to be about having one’s reproductive life controlled by creepy old men.

To sum up the plot, Rosemary and her husband, struggling actor Guy, move into an apartment building, the Bramford, with a shady past. Before long, a pair of annoyingly solicitous neighbors becomes an every-day part of their lives. Guy and the neighbors form a tight bond, Guy’s pathetic acting career takes a turn toward fame, and Rosemary is soon pregnant…

The film is sprinkled with little indications of what’s really going on throughout, but until the final chilling scene, nothing is ever really explained. As a screenwriter, I can tell you that a lot of the time scripts are rejected for being too subtle. Subtle doesn’t sell. Rosemary’s Baby, though, is an incredible example of a story that is SUPER SUBTLE – but which works!

We experience the movie from Rosemary’s point of view, and are kept as in the dark as she is. As she pieces things together, so do we. We completely believe her ‘conspiracy theory’ – yet, right up until the end, we also wonder if her suspicions aren’t actually the result of over-zealous pregnancy hormones.

Only in the very last scene do we learn that Rosemary is 100% correct in suspecting a conspiracy. However, the witches’ coven in the Bramford is not out to sacrifice her baby as she thought. The baby is actually Satan’s son. Guy allowed Satan to impregnate Rosemary while she was drugged, in exchange for the coven’s work in helping his career.

What struck me about this film upon second viewing – apart from the incredible suspense-building – was how sad it is. While I think there may be a few different meanings in the story, I’d have to agree about the ‘reproductive control’ theory above… which, apart from being scary, is also heartbreaking.

Rosemary wants nothing more in the world than to have a baby. She doesn’t have any goals or aspirations other than raising a safe, healthy child. But in the end, she has zero control over anything about this child – including who its father is. She gives birth to Satan’s son – and, in a final moment many-times noted for how chilling it is, gives in to her maternal instincts and becomes chained to this Satanic offspring for life on the basis that, as the mother, she must care for it. (Hmmm…. maybe this is a film about the fear of becoming a parent?) The little “Jenny or Andy” she dreamed of her whole life is forever denied her. She doesn’t even get to pick the child’s name. The title, Rosemary’s Baby, is ironic.

It’s also sad how no one cares for the increasingly isolated Rosemary (with the exception of one friend who is killed off when he uncovers the secret and tries to warn her,) not even her own husband. She truly is just a vessel, a means to an end, and this adds to the terror… while we identify with Rosemary as an actual person and can put ourselves in her shoes, we see how easy it is for a human being to be used as a commodity. It shows how something tragic can happen to anyone – a sensation that’s heightened all the more by how utterly commonplace Rosemary’s neighbors, who lead a Satanic coven, actually appear.

There is one more theory about the film that caught my attention, and which may explain why it’s so chilling to men and women alike. Rosemary is actually “America.” (Bear with me.) The film was made in the ’60s, a decade about love and peace. Rosemary, like the hopeful people of that time, is naive about what her future holds. Once it becomes inevitable that her beliefs have no place in the “real world,” she not only accepts the world as it is – she has to give up her ideals and become a part of it.

It’s chilling to note that writer/director Roman Polanksi’s pregnant wife, Sharon Tate, was herself murdered in a Satanic ritual by the Manson family, shortly after the release of Rosemary’s Baby. The event, dubbed one of the most significant of the 20th Century, came right at the end of the ’60s and, for many, marked the end of the peace/love era. It’s surrounded by conspiracy theories of its own…

But that’s a post for another day.

Blog by: Sara McDermott

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5 Benefits of a Having a Table Read

Three years ago, a friend asked if I’d write a screenplay based on a collection of songs he’d written and performed off-Broadway. The music was incredible, and the story that the songs told was interesting – definitely worth delving into with a feature script.

I said yes and for the next however many months, worked feverishly on a unique, dark indie-musical. When I was finished, we had something that we both loved and wanted to see on the big screen.

Then we let it sit… for three years.

Until last week, when the musician decided to put together a table read for the script in New York City. He lined up amazing talent through his Broadway friends, booked a studio near Times Square, and before we knew it, the day arrived.

We didn’t know exactly what to expect from this little experiment, but after having gone through it, here are the top benefits I realized in having a table read:

1. Give Your Project a Jolt of Momentum. This project sat for three years. Now, both the musician and I have a renewed zest for getting it out there. And this doesn’t just go for us: it also goes for the people who were involved in the reading. We got incredible feedback about the project and now have a small fan club to help champion it to their connections.

2. Hear what works/what doesn’t. This is really the most important part of a table read. We had previously read the script many times, but only to ourselves… hearing it read out loud by professional actors was an entirely different experience. One of the most surprising things to learn was how much comic relief one particular character offered. It’s a pretty dark story overall, so finding these opportunities for humor help give the audience a break. We spotted a few other things to tweak, as well, and I’ll be using this experience when I do my re-write.

3. Networking. There were several well-known Broadway stars at the reading, including a former Elphaba from the mega-hit Wicked. But even if a reading doesn’t have ‘name talent,’ it’s still a great way to meet people with goals similar to yours. You really never know in this industry which connections are going to help pull off a great project. Meeting everyone at a reading is a fun, collaborative way to get to know them.

Problem Four: It just doesn’t look right.

4. Lend the project credibility. Who would you rather work with: a screenwriter who tells you they worked on something three years ago that is still up for grabs, or one that says they just came from a table read for a project of theirs that’s in development? Same logic also goes for a producer, director, actor, etc. Having a table read shows people you get stuff done; you can rally a group around one of your projects. Even if you don’t find someone to help move that particular project forward, it can inspire people to hire you for another job.

5. Potential for investors. This was our first, unrehearsed table read, so we didn’t invite potential investors… but we all came away from it with a plan to hold another table read in January when our actors are well-rehearsed (particularly with the music.) We’re also pooling our contact lists to find the best potential investors/ producers to invite. Finding these folks is arguably the biggest challenge in making a film happen. Putting on a table read shows the excitement surrounding the script and its entertainment value. What a great way to demonstrate why it’s a film that should be made.

Written By: Sara McDermott DFANYC Alum

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Three Reasons Why You Need to Learn to Code

Unless you’re living under a rock, with your ears plugged and your eyes blindfolded, you’ve probably heard people talk about coding.

Coding is fast becoming the most important skill in the job market. In fact, schools in other countries, such as the UK, have already made coding mandatory for primary and secondary school students. Statistics cited from the Bureau of Labor Statistics tell us of “a 20% growth predicted for the Junior Web Development industry through 2020.”

There are multiple reasons to gain coding skills, not the least of which is that these skills will be key to finding a job in the near future. That being said, however, there are plenty of people in the entertainment industry who might shrug it off as being “not for them.” But, for filmmakers in particular, coding is invaluable. To that end, the DFA is offering a new coding program starting in January, 2016! These 900 hours of rigorous web development training encompass Ruby on Rails, HTML,CSS, JavaScript, JQuery, SQL, Postgres, Angular.js, Node.js, Python, Django, Couchdb, Heroku, GitHub and Full Stack Development. Digital Film Academy’s program includes a brand new mac air for every student, granting them the equipment to monetize their skills.

Here are three key reasons why, as a filmmaker, you should learn coding:
1. Customize your website.

In a nutshell, coding means giving instructions to a computer that it will then carry out. Nowadays, all filmmakers need to have websites – not just for themselves, but also for their individual films. Knowledge of coding will help to create amazing websites that will engage your audience and – dare I say it? – help drive donations for any crowd-funding campaigns. If you know how to code, you can tailor your website to your needs. And, for indie filmmakers who are usually strapped for cash, this will be one less area where you’ll have to pay someone to come in and do the job for you.

2. It’s just another skill that you can offer to other filmmakers.
Entertainment is a tough, tough industry. No surprise there. And indie filmmakers work on shoestring budgets. They constantly need to staff their teams with people who can wear multiple hats.
With coding being so in-demand, what could be more appealing than hiring a cinematographer/gaffer/script supervisor/make-up artist (basically anyone at all pertaining to film) who is also knowledgeable about coding and will help make the film an incredible website? The more skills you have, the more appealing you’ll be. You know how an actor who can sing, dance, and act is a triple threat? Why not become a multi-level threat yourself?

3. Easy-to-find “Day Jobs.”
Let’s face it. We all wish we could spend 24 hours a day devoted solely to our craft. For about 90% or more of filmmakers, though, this just isn’t yet possible.

Not only is it easy to find coding jobs right now (there is a far greater demand for coders than there are coders to fill the demand), but it’s a skill that, even if you aren’t looking for a 9-to-5, you can use to work freelance and help support your filmmaking. Additionally, coding is an area that will generally give you skills you can use across the board in your own life.

So what are you waiting for? For more information on the DFA Coding Program, please visit us at https://www.digitalfilmacademy.edu/. There is an open house this Saturday, October 17th, from 2-5 PM.

Written By: Sara McDermott

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Common Film Festival Problems and Their Fixes

I recently pulled off a film festival without any major technical problems, and it felt like winning the lottery.

If you’re a filmmaker with a history of submitting to and attending film festivals, at one point or another, you’ve probably experienced something going wrong at a festival screening. You were sitting in a darkened theatre, losing yourself in the magic that is cinema, when all of a sudden, the sound went out of sync or the film started to skip uncontrollably

– until it cut off completely and filmmakers and programmers alike scrambled frantically to the projection room to try and fix it. In a worse-case scenario? This may have even happened to your film. So, to try and avoid these terrible moments, here are the top technical problems likely to occur at a film festival screening, and what you can do to prevent them from happening to you.

Problem One: Subtitles aren’t showing up on a film that needs subtitles.

The Fix: Depending on how your DVD was burned/digital file was given, it may be a simple matter of turning the subtitles on… but if not, the culprit is most likely how the projectionist has adjusted the formatting to fit the screen. This was the only technical problem I experienced at my own film festival, and the reason why was formatting. Avoid this by clearly labeling your DVD with the format and any info on subtitles (i.e., are they coming up over the picture or beneath it?) Once the projectionist at my film fest reformatted the picture, the subtitles appeared.

Problem Two: Encryption Gone Wrong.

The Fix: Just don’t do it. A lot of filmmakers are encrypting their films to prevent piracy… but this just adds another layer for potential problems. Although a film may be encrypted in a way that grants the festival access, there’s always the chance that the encryption will not be compatible with the server the fest is working with, or that the fest’s server went through an update that the encrypted film is not adapted for. So even though encrypting might be the norm for Hollywood distribution, when it comes to fests, just stay away.

Problem Three: It just doesn’t play.

The Fix: The short-answer fix is that everything has to be tested ahead of time to ensure it works. That doesn’t just mean by you, but also by the festival – so, get your accepted film to the festival well in advance to meet their test-screening date! If you miss the test-screening and are handing them a DVD just minutes before it’s meant to play, don’t be surprised if A.) It doesn’t work, or B.) They tell you to get lost. Additionally, know that a failure to play can happen for a variety of technical reasons, and always ensure that you’re formatting the drive the film is being delivered on properly.

Problem Four: It just doesn’t look right.

The Fix: DO QUALITY CONTROL. I saved this piece of advice for last, because it really is your best bet for having everything go well. If you’re sending along a digital file for the fest to work with, or sending a DVD that you didn’t watch all the way through to check for quality, be prepared for what you see on the big screen to disappoint. I know that, in the two weeks leading up to my fest, I was scrambling to get all the digital files I received burned onto DVDs, and, through compressing and burning, a few HD films came out looking slightly less HD than intended. The other side of the coin? Filmmakers who sent me the Blu-Ray discs I’d requested basically had total control over what I was getting in terms of quality and what the audience would see. I just had to pop in their discs and we were good to go. So bottom line? Each fest may have different needs – just be sure to give them what they ask for!

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Television is experiencing a golden age, and the key place to honor that fact is, of course, at the Emmy Awards.

The 67th Annual Emmy Awards took place last Sunday, Sept. 20, and were a history-making affair. Host Andy Samburg’s opening song was a tribute to how there is just so much good television nowadays, it’s nearly impossible to keep up. (Unless, of course, you hide out in a ‘viewing bunker’ for a year.)HBO won more than half of all statuettes, a first for any network. Their total by the end of both the Primetime Emmys and the Creative Arts Emmys was 43.

HBO’s major Primetime winners were the political comedy Veep, with four wins, the epic fantasy Game of Thrones, with four wins, and six wins for the limited series Olive Kitteridge. In addition to HBO winning the most Emmys of any network in a single year, Game of Thrones, its most popular show, took home the most Emmys of any show in a single year. GOT claimed 8 Creative Arts Emmys, bringing its total up to 12. Those 12 include the prize for Outstanding Drama Series.

Not all the firsts went to HBO, however. Viola Davis became the first African-American woman in history to win Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series for her role on How to Get Away with Murder. Her acceptance speech proved to be one of the more emotional moments of the night when, speaking of opportunities for women of color, she said, “You can not win an Emmy for roles that are not there.”

Another actress came one step closer to making history when CBS’ Mom star Allison Janney took home Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series. It was her seventh Emmy, tying her and Ed Asner for second place for most-ever Emmy wins by a single person. Cloris Leachman still holds the all-time record with eight.

Other notable moments include the fact that Jon Hamm of AMC’s Mad Men finally won his first Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series after having been nominated for all of the past seven years. Jeffrey Tambor took home Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series for his role in Transparent, an award he dedicated to the transgender community.

And finally, there was one other way in which the awards were ground-breaking…

It was the hottest red carpet ever, with on-set thermometers reading up to 120 degrees. Both Mother Nature and the heat-trapping plastic tarp thrown over the red carpet (ironically, to provide shade) were to blame.

What were your favorite Emmy moments this year?

Written By: Sara Mcdermott

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Fresh Graduates=Fresh Industry Professionals

Hey, Digital Film Academy friends. On behalf of the talented students, instructors and faculty at DFA, I felt inspired to broadcast some of the paramount accomplishments stemming from our school in just the last couple of weeks.

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To begin, let’s talk about Joseph Classen. Both a brand new father and brand new graduate from DFA, this budding professional just visited us a few days ago to talk about a new project keeping him busy, fulfilled and PAID. Joseph is currently shooting a documentary for an art expo/concert coming up September 23rd in Elizabeth, New Jersey. He has been tasked with interviewing the show’s creator, John Freddy Hurtado, as well as some of the featured artists. If you are curious about Hurtado and his heartfelt spoken word, you may check out some of his work on Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCcK40teQFCVjqNfbq_xBY3A. Classen’s documentary will illustrate the events leading up to the art show, the show itself, and the show’s aftermath.  We are proud that Joseph has already begun utilizing the skills he acquired at Digital Film Academy to construct something meaningful to documentary makers and artists alike.

Next, I would like to quote Damond McFarland in order to fully capture his sense of humor and humility. When asked about how he would celebrate his newest professional conquests as an actor, he screamed,

“We’re from Texas, so we cook.”

From Texas to the sets of Elementary and Law and Order SVU, this recent Digital Film Academy graduate is working steadily as a SAG-AFTRA actor, shooting scenes with stars such as Juliette Lewis, while also being employed at art galleries around New York. Damond has the opportunity to work hands on with the artists as he records video for them and documents their successes at specific venues. Even more inspiring, Damond states,

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“I’m not intimidated. I know I can do it.”

He credits DFA for his confidence and vision of soon opening his own production company.

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“I have some amazing visions. DFA helped because it taught me editing and different software. Patrick definitely helped me on directing. It helped me understand the film industry more as a director, cinematographer…rule of thirds… Didn’t know any of this stuff. Budgeting, scheduling movies. What goes into film. Takes so much work putting a film together.”

We could not be more excited for Damond and his promising future as a filmmaker, producer and actor.

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Another Digital Film Academy grad, Ronda Fowler, beams with exuberance as she receives high points for her thesis project, Single Black Mama. The film follows “one woman’s story of hope” that “arrives from the unexpected ending of a deceptive relationship.” Pretty juicy. You can check out more information like her incredible cast and crew on the drama’s IMDb page, http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4568244/. Ms. Fowler’s talents range broadly with titles like Creative and Professional Producer, Comedienne and Actress with television, movie, and stand-up comedy experience. She has been the CEO of SoFowl Productions for over two years. Follow her on twitter and watch as her career unfolds in the film industry. https://twitter.com/RondaFowler

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In brief, these students just graduated in June, 2015. They have already propelled themselves into the professional world of film, art, acting and beyond. If this is where the students from Digital Film Academy find themselves after just a few months of graduation, imagine what must be in store for them years to come. Their DFA family is excited to watch their journeys.

Written By: Gracie Winchester

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Wes Craven: Horror and Beyond

When I was ten, I went to a slumber party for a friend’s birthday. The birthday girl’s parents, for whatever reason, put on a horror movie and left the dozen-or-so kids in attendance to squirm in their sleeping bags, watching it unsupervised at about midnight.

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The movie was A Nightmare on Elm Street.

To say I was terrified would be a drastic understatement. I insisted on sleeping in my parents’ bed with them for the better part of a year following that birthday party. Wherever I looked, I imagined I saw Freddy Krueger ready to lash out at me with dream-like inescapability. It wasn’t long before I knew who to blame for my terror: the writer/director, Wes Craven.

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A lot of years have passed since I sat, immobilized with fear, in my sleeping bag. But as a result of the impression that film made on me, I grew to associate Craven’s name with horror. I also went on to become a writer/director of horror myself, perhaps in no small part thanks to Craven. Even when I was young, I realized being able to scare someone that much was a powerful, powerful thing.

So yesterday, when I checked my Facebook page and saw that someone had posted the quote: “Horror films don’t create fear, they release it.” – Wes Craven, 1939-2015, my jaw hit the floor.

Craven passed at the age of 76 in his Los Angeles home. He had been battling brain cancer.

He was involved in the entertainment industry right up until the end, with multiple projects in development at different studios and television stations. He’ll perhaps be best remembered for his two biggest box office hits – the A Nightmare on Elm Street and Scream franchises – but they were actually only a small part of who he was as a creator.

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For instance, practically no one is aware that he directed Music of the Heart, a 1999 inspirational drama about a teacher in Harlem that led Meryl Streep to one of her many Academy Award nominations. His connection to the film was purposely downplayed since many die-hard fans wouldn’t accept him as a director of anything other than horror.

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He was also a novelist, publishing The Fountain Society, a sci-fi thriller, in 1999. Additionally, on the writing side, he was an avid bird-watcher and published a column, Wes Craven’s The Birds, for Martha’s Vineyard Magazine. He resided in Martha’s Vineyard for several years before returning to L.A. due to his health and work schedule.

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All in all, Craven spent 43 years writing and making movies – and both he and audiences loved every minute of it. His creativity will be sorely missed, but of course – he’s left a rich legacy behind.

Freddy (and Craven’s other creations) are always just a play button away.

Written By:

Sara McDermott Jain

@SaraMcJain

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4 Things I Learned Organizing a Film Fest (That Made Me a Better Filmmaker)

For the past year, I’ve been organizing a film festival. Every thing every one warned me about is true: it did take over my life, it is a ton of work, and I am seeing films in my sleep at this point.

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But there are a lot of perks that nobody mentioned, and right at the top of the list is the fact that, watching all those submissions, I learned how to better submit – and even make – my films.

Basically, submissions fall into the following categories:

  • Gotta have ‘em (about 5%)
  • Keep ‘em away from me (about 5%)
  • Wish I could put it in, but it wouldn’t make sense because of X, Y, and Z (90%!)

So, to help you get your films into that top 5% of guaranteed-to-make-the-cut, here are a few pointers I picked up:

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1.  KEEP IT SHORT!!! I’m sure you’ve heard this advice before – I’ve heard it before, many times. But until I put together my final schedule, I didn’t really GET IT.

If a submission’s 3 minutes long, it’s easy to fit in. If it’s 10 minutes, still pretty easy… once it gets to be over 15 minutes, it starts to become impossible. And this rule goes for features too! If it’s 60 to 90 minutes – I can work with it. But 2 hours? Unless it’s INCREDIBLE, I can’t justify it.

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Most screening blocks are two hours long. If you submit a two-hour film, you’re asking me to schedule ONLY your film for an entire screening block. If there’s an equally worthy film that’s 90 minutes and lets me fit in a few shorts, too, well… that’s that.

2.  Be Original. You’re thinking: “I am original!” Well, the way you execute your story might be original, but make sure the story’s really original, too. How many other films about angst-ridden teenagers are there going to be? I definitely made cuts based on the fact that multiple films were telling basically the same story. Films telling stories I hadn’t seen anywhere else stood a way better chance.

3.  Consider Your Audience. Most people don’t bother to check out a fest’s mission statement, but they should. It’s just not worth the time and money it takes to submit to something where, even if you are great, you just don’t fit their vision. In the final hour, there’s always way more films the programmers wish they could schedule than they have time for, and they’re going to be looking for any reason to help them make a tough decision.

4.  Cover letter. I’ll be honest – I’ve never written a cover letter when submitting to fests. And I’m not alone, because neither did about 80% of our submitters. I guess people figure that their films speak for themselves? But now that I’ve been on the other side of it, let me drive this home: COVER LETTERS MATTER. Not if they’re just a repeat of your film summary, but if they tell us why you want to be part of OUR festival. If you’re the only one out of ten possible films to reassure us that you believe in our mission and, if selected, will attend and promote the festival – it’s going to nudge you toward a yes.

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There you have it – my top 4 pointers. If you follow these, I promise, your chances of being accepted at any fest will go up at least 50%.

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And if you’re curious to see what made the cut for our fest – check us out at http://www.princetonindependentfilmfestival.com!

Written By: Sara McDermott

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Three Reasons to Start with Horror

Horror is sometimes treated like the unwanted cousin of film. It isn’t seen as art. Try to remember the last time a horror film was nominated for an Academy Award.

Best Actress

-31st October 1930: Canadian star Norma Shearer (1902 – 1983) receives a Best Actress Oscar from Conrad Nagel (1897 – 1970), for her role in ‘The Divorcee’. The two co-starred as lovers in the film, which was directed by Robert Z Leonard. (Photo by John Kobal Foundation/Getty Images)-

BUT… whether it’s art or trash, there’s one thing Hollywood knows for sure: Horror films SELL. So, instead of an unwanted cousin, maybe horror is actually more like that uncle the family tolerates because he’s wealthy and buys them things…

If you’re a film-maker who is just starting out and plans to tackle a feature, congratulations! But there are three key reasons why you should make that first-ever feature a horror film.

1. Horror sells.

OK. This was already mentioned in the intro, but it definitely deserves some more attention. If you make and release a horror film online, what are the chances of viewers choosing a quiet drama with an image of two friends sharing coffee on the thumbnail over a blood-splattered horror flick? Sure, you’ll get a few clicks, and sure, there’s an audience for drama – but they usually flock to dramas starring actors they know, and if this is your first feature, you don’t have those actors.

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Horror, on the other hand, ALWAYS has an audience. People will click the link out of sheer morbid curiosity. When it comes to horror, all that really matters is the concept, the story, and whether or not they’re marketable.

 

2. Horror can be done on the cheap.

In additional to horror selling well, it can also be made very cheaply. That’s because horror doesn’t need to rely on big stars or even crazy special effects. Scary is scary, and that’s all people watching horror are looking for – to be scared.

Remember two seconds ago when I wrote that a marketable concept and story are all that really matter in horror? Well, if these things are coming from you (and they likely are if it’s your first feature), they’re free.

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You might be thinking, “Don’t horror movies require a lot of special effects, though?” They don’t! Think about it. Think of how many horror movies you’ve seen where you were terrified even though they barely ever showed the monster? Or where the violence was mostly implied, not shown, and your brain just filled in the blanks? Again, it’s the IDEA of what’s going on. The concept. People will still be scared even without a lot of over-the-top effects. And, honestly, the number one “effect” in horror films is usually just fake blood. Hit your local Halloween store on November 1st to buy buckets of it for 50% off and go to town.

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3. Horror stands a chance at being a franchise.

Horror is unique in that just about any horror film can spawn multiple sequels – even if it’s terrible. No other genre can consistently pull that off. There’s a reason why Forrest Gump stopped after just one, while they’ll continue to make Friday the 13th movies long after you and I are gone.

Once again, it comes back to those horror lovers, the ones who watch out of morbid curiosity. If they liked the first one, they’ll show up for the second one. And if they liked the first one enough, Hollywood will pay for your second one. Think about what happened to Oren Peli after Paranormal Activity came out. The film was made for $11,000 – which is like five cents in movie terms – and has now made hundreds of millions of dollars.

So, there you have it. I’m not saying not to plan for your artistic, insightful movie that will go on to sweep the Oscars. But if you’re just looking to get a film in the can, get people to start recognizing you, and get more work, horror’s the best place to start. Happy film-making!

Written by: Sara McDermott

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