When is a Film Ready to Be Submitted to a Festival, and Do Production Values Really Matter?

We recently shared a terrific conversation about film festivals with HollyShorts co-founder Daniel Sol, and now Film Courage has released a few more excellent clips from the interview. This time, Daniel talks about great production values and mediocre execution vs. great execution and mediocre production values, and how you can know whether your film is finally ready to be submitted to a festival. Click through to check them out.

Obviously both questions can have a range of different answers depending on your situation, but I've found with my festival experiences that keeping it simple and not trying to do too much goes a long way for many of the films accepted. Length is a big deal, and because of the way festivals program, a decent 6 minute short might have a better chance of being accepted than a great 15 minute short. To the question of production values, the films with poor productions values and great execution are few and far between. I have seen a few head-scratchers get through the festival programmers, but more often than not, production values are at least average to above average -- and certainly good sound can make up for less than stellar cinematography.

I think Daniel brings up a really important point about having a lot of money vs. not having any. In the independent world, the conversation in many circles routinely comes back around to how much money a film cost to make, and there are plenty of times when certain faults are forgiven for lack of money, whereas many don't extend the same generosity to movies with a budget.

Right or wrong, it's common practice to praise a visual effects-heavy short completed with almost no money spent. I'm glad Daniel mentioned the money issue, because I think it's unfair in a lot of ways to judge films solely on how much (or how little) was spent on the project. If the filmmakers use it as a selling point, that's absolutely a possible point of criticism, but it's always more productive to bring the conversation back to the film itself, not what the film could have or should have been based on how much money the production had. Shane Carruth did a great job with this during Sundance with his film Upstream Color, and it seems like being quiet about money and production equipment has kept most of the focus on the movie itself.

What do you guys think? Are films too often judged (positively or negatively) solely based on how much money it cost them or the tools they used?


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Hey Joe,
Maybe you've written about this and I've missed it but, have you heard of the Nikon V1 shooting 60fps @ 4k raw? Check out this article and video footage on Vimeo.

http://www.eoshd.com/ http://vimeo.com/61441075

Things can get pretty interesting, once more people learn about this. Of course V1 has it's limitation with auto exposure, but man! 60fps @ 4k in $200-300 is jaw dropping. Anyway let me know what you think. I think some of your readers would be curious too.

March 12, 2013 at 3:59PM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM


Haha totally off topic - but I guess since we don't have a forum that's to be expected.

I haven't written about the Nikon mirrorless cameras before since they don't shoot 24p and don't really allow manual controls in video if I remember correctly. Honestly I'm not sure how useful that will be at the moment since it can only do those frame rates for 1 second or less. It could be interesting if a hack were possible to bring it up to something more usable, like 20-30 seconds, similar to the original wind-up bolex.

March 12, 2013 at 4:09PM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM

Joe Marine
Camera Department

Sorry about the off topic! I couldn't help it.
It seemed like the best way to get your attention fast.
Don't worry, I'm checking out the videos with Daniel Sol. I find them very interesting, so thanks for it.
As far as the V1 I would say the main object of interest for me is the Aptina sensor technology.
I wonder if that's why Sony has invested in it, just recently.

March 12, 2013 at 4:22PM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM


If you have a feature and its good, find distribution first they will get you into the festivals.

March 12, 2013 at 9:35PM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM