Oh so much to say

posted Jul 12, 2011, 8:51 AM by Steve N Bradford   [ updated Jul 12, 2011, 9:37 AM ]
Well, its been busy which is good for me, and bad for you dear reader.  Yes, I know its just one of you, and I am ok with that.  We share something special.  Shhh, no, don't talk.  Because I can't hear you.

Anyhow, its been a little longer than I would like between posts but there is a lot going on.  So expect a couple of new posts in relatively short succession.  I have three topics to cover:

Winning and award and how that changes things.
Opening a film and realizing its not your best work.
Making friends through free work, or drug dealer marketing.

This post is going to be on the first of those topics.  Wisp, my short film which I created for the 'Films for the Forest' Festival in Austin Texas has come home with an award for 'Best Narrative' and with it bragging rights and a copy of Adobe Premiere CS4.  Pretty sweet deal over all for a weekend of work and a budget of 'a quarter tank of gas'.  But from this what have I learned?  First, an award (no matter how small) offers credibility as a film maker.  People do not need to even see the film and judge for themselves, nor are they likely to look up the festival and judge how big and important it might be.  Lets look at the example of Wisp.  I do think its a very good film and I am extraordinarily proud of it (so much so that it has been entered into the DC Environmental Film Festival as well).  But its not everyone's cup of tea.  The festival it was entered in was only in its second year of existence.  Last year in their inaugural competition there were 11 entries, 9 of which received an accolade of some form.  There were three categories, and each has a first, second, and third place winner.  But very few people realize that.  I submitted my film to a festival where last year there was an 81% award rate.  This year it was quite different, fewer prizes, more entries, and a definite increase in the level of competition.

But that was a ramble wasn't it?  The point is, now when people talk to me about my films its not just 'Yeah they are on YouTube'. I can tell them 'I have won an award for my film making'.  Since they are not going to do the research to judge for themselves they now consider me to be credible and worthy of their time.  Its amazing to me how much more interest I have from people who would like to be involved in my films.  Which means I have a more talented and deeper pool of people to work with.  Which means (in theory) my films will only improve as more and more talented people bring something new to the table.  Its like how Spider-Man never got to do any Team Up comics until he was Amazing.  Only right now I am have less super powers and would probably end up on a sillier team.

So in the end, what do these awards do?  They help me recruit.  I am not going to get into another festival just because of past accolades (I would know, I was a judge for the DC Shorts Festival this year and there were a few times that we denied something that had gotten previous festival praise).  The big danger is to start taking myself too seriously as a result of getting the award.  It is very hard not to think you are awesome after someone just told you that you are.  But most importantly you should always bear in mind where you actually stand on things.  Just because you are wearing a golden suit and can fly for a little bit, does not mean you are not still just Aunt May.

Now, I do want to say, that after re-reading this post it makes it sound like I feel I am 'fooling' people into working with me.  That is not the case.  I do think that the films I produce and the work I do is worth doing for everyone involved and I always hope that it can be mutually beneficial to the entire cast and crew.  We are all learning and every time we do a project it gets better, we bring in new people with new perspectives, and eventually some really great stuff will come out of it.  Somewhere is that distant horizon where I am a full time professional film maker.  And the people working with have become experts.  But right now I need every little artificial leg up I can get.  Because it doesn't matter how amazing or great my films are right now if no one sees them.  Its the monster of marketing.  Success is not determined simply by the quality of the product, but rather the quantity of people who see it.  As a small independent producer I have to fight tooth and nail to get my work shown beyond the realm of my Facebook friends.  Having a film win something is just one little step in the right direction which opens my films to a slightly larger audience.

My hope is that the take away from this post is that getting an award is just a step on the way.  Its a way in which a third party has given their stamp of approval on your work which makes other people stop and take notice.  Progressively it should get easier and easier to market and distribute films if they continue to receive accolades.  But it will always be a battle.  Even big Hollywood movies keep trying to ride their own coat tails.  "Starring Academy Award Nominee" is a sought after line in the marketing material.  It just slowly starts to help level the playing field if you can put 'Award Winning' next to your name.  Thats right Charlie Sheen, I'm 'winning' too.