Losing your (festival) virginity

So my short film ACID TEST premiered last Sunday as part of Literally Short Film Festival’s “Local & Fresh” Selection of Texas shorts and I think it went really really well. A short write-up on it is found on the film’s website blog and includes a post about our cast-crew-contributor screening that occurred the week before. So I thought I would use this opportunity to express the anxiety of launching into festival season.

AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!! As a filmmaker, it’s hard enough just to get your film off the ground and into production. Then it’s another beast to get it through post. Then you have this thing, this video file, that you want people to see and you look out into the vast ocean of content and opportunities and you realize you are but a molecule of H2O. And while getting your film picked by a festival is completely out of your hands, there’s all this strategizing and connection-making to get noticed, to get a waiver or a discount…

I feel like I’m in high school all over again trying to get noticed by the popular crowd. Trying to catch the eye of the kid I like. Strategizing how I’m going to lose my virginity. Do I just get it over with? Or do I wait for someone I love? And what will people think of me once I’ve done it?

Whether or not this all is true, whether it’s just in my head, I decided to go with what I know and what I have: ACID TEST is kickass. It’s very American. It’s got a complete narrative arc. A lot of festival films are a slice of Act 2 and as a film-goer I find that frustrating. I like to dig a little deeper into character when I engage. I want to leave feeling like I’m taking something with me, that I’ve been changed. And that’s what I hope ACID TEST does for you. We made it in Houston with a local crew and the actors were all native Houstonians except for one. 210 people supported our film with financial contributions either through our fiscal sponsor Southwest Alternate Media Project (SWAMP) or through our post-production crowdfunding campaign platform Seed&Spark. That’s an amazing amount of people for a film that’s just over 14 minutes. There aren’t a lot of film festivals going on right now and while I was originally thinking of premiering in the fall, Literally Short Film Festival came up and it hit all the right buttons. 1) LSFF showcases a high caliber of films so I knew ACID TEST was good from the company it would keep at the festival. 2) It’s an opportunity to premiere within my filmmaking community, strengthen and build those connections, and calm the nerves of festival screening being surrounded by people I know, respect, and love. 3) It screened on Father’s Day, which tied into the themes of my movie. 4) Another film I produced, NEXT EXIT, was also selected so I had 2 films in the program, which is pretty cool. 5) I’m flouting a bit of traditional film festival strategizing which, for better or worse, is also in line with the themes of the movie.

It’s all a risk. And there’s a chance that by screening at a small local festival the short WON’T be selected by a larger festival that wants premiere status for its films. But those larger festivals are much harder to get into anyways, and if they really want my film they’ll program it regardless. So now I know wherever we land next, they’ll really want the movie. But I hate not being in control. I hate that I can’t plead my case in person. I hate that I can’t see what we’re being compared to or get feedback on why we weren’t selected. I hate waiting.

But this is the game I’ve decided to play. It’s a new experience for me and that’s what I wanted when I started this project: something challenging. The support along the way has been amazing and I appreciate everything everyone at Literally Short Film Festival did to make this a great premiere. It was a great first time and I can’t wait for the next one 😉