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Max Field

Don't Let Crazy People Attend Film Fests

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For the record, I am the crazy person. Let me explain.

So I went to my very first film festival as a director. The producer submitted it so I had a free VIP pass so I figured "why not?"

I meet up with the crew, go into the VIP lounge and see people taking themselves way too seriously. It's a film festival so comes with the territory, but they had the nerve to cater the lounge with JERSEY MIKES COLD SUBS. For our international posters; Jersey Mikes is a more pretentious Subway. Literally the only good thing they do is hot subs, but they gave us cold subs....

The big positive before showings: I MET SINBAD AND ASKED HIM IF HE'S STILL GETTING CHECKS FROM "JINGLE ALL THE WAY"

So now it's time to enter the theater to sit through a bunch of other shorts I don't care about so I can see what I worked on played on the big screen. 45 minutes of poor audio, bad acting, confusing narratives, and cliche visual choices later: The documentary I worked on played on the screen. I gave the producer 2 different final files. One was studio-levels, the other was computer-levels.
I was let down to see the projectionist (guy with a Macbook) chose the wrong version, so the final image was overly crushed and had odd compression waves in the shadows (let me know if that might've been my fault, I hadn't seen it on ANY screen/projector I played it back on beforehand).

17eecf93325cc1aa544518e8f13a98ef.png

Skip to this section for the best part of the festival hijinks
So a couple of us get out of the theater and there's a suit that walks up to use who needs us for some mock red carpet interview.... here is my chance to promote this project
The following is 90% accurate of what was actually said:

Interviewer: "So how did you and the producer come together for this project?"
Me: "I just found an ad on Twitter.. I showed up to Newark, New Jersey looking forward to being murdered by an internet stranger. Unfortunately that didn't happen so here we are."

Interviewer: "So were you the writer too?"
Me: "It was a documentary, there were no writers."

Interviewer: "How did you guys creatively gel"
Me: "Honestly really well. I had been using R&B for montages and transitions for years, so I could make this doc feel like an Osmosis Jones transition."

Interviewer: "Did you see any of the other shorts?"
Me: "Yeah they were boring except for the one about Cricket"

Interviewer: "So you're nominated for an award, any advice you'd like to give your fellow filmmakers?"
Me: "Festivals are cool but no one actually shows up to these things so focus your time and energy on building an audience via social media. Also film school is a scam, do not go to film school it is a debt trap, your parents are wrong, they know literally nothing about this industry"

UPON SAYING FILM SCHOOL IS A SCAM THE ENTIRE CAMERA CREW WAS SILENTLY CHEERING ME ON
and then after we walked off the red rug, 2 of the festival helpers (all of these were high school kids) called out like "Dude you're awesome I was trying to figure out if I should go to art school!"
I went up and talked to the guy, next to him were 2 girl helpers all fascinated with who this guy saying hella real stuff was.

I told them I was a filmmaker who built my audience via social media, my work had gotten over 100 million views and at one point Youtube star PewDiePie stole a clip from one of my videos and had to email me to resolve the issue. Soon after, like 8 of the high school interns were crowded around to hear me talk, it was like a fever dream.

At one point in the gathering I asked what they were getting paid to help, they said they were all unpaid interns. I responded with "I heard unpaid internships are illegal now?" That had them pumped up to just walk out during the middle of the festival. "OH MY GOD THANK YOU" one of them said. Another said they had to be waiting up at a door to make sure no one would sneak in. I told him "Dude you're at a film festival no one wants to sneak into this trash, you aren't even getting paid they can't force you to do anything."
Their supervisors walked by reminding them to return to their posts and the kids were all reluctant to listen after my pep talk.
Yes, I single handedly destroyed the morale of a film festival's entire working staff.

So the lesson to be learned here is I am a universal entertainer and someone better get me a show deal before I turn actually crazy.

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4 hours ago, Phil Rhodes said:

I might go back Sunday and give the Cinematography forums gang a shout out!

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Yeah, I do think festivals should be paying their staff. They can make quite a lot of money charging for submissions, then they sell tickets and usually get corporate sponsorship. I don't understand why they need all that free labour.

I'm a uni tutor (I have thoughts on your other points) and a lot of festivals approach me, attempting to get my students to work at festivals for free... Most of this work is tearing tickets and being an unpaid cinema usher - not exactly a useful learning experience.

In terms of presentation I've been to festivals where the film presentation is perfect and others where its a laptop data projector untested mess. The big ones are usually good and test the films ahead of time.

Film Schools - depends on the programme and what department your training for.

From my own perspective I went to the NFTS in the UK about 10 years ago. It didn't supercharge my career (although it has for others), its helped my career in some areas,

But, It was the most enjoyable 2 years of my life, period to date - even if I got nothing else the experience of attending was amazing, that was enough anything else would be a bonus. 

In terms of cost, I got a Scholarship and was able to attend without going into debt or needing money upfront. I survived with part time work on a few night shifts a week edit assisting on Top Gear. The NFTS although expensive by UK standards (but cheap for what it is) has a reasonable amount of scholarships, about 50% of UK students get something. The tricky thing is getting in.... took me 3 years and 3 attempts. But those $100k per year schools - I wouldn't take the risk, too much debt and maybe no hope of being able to pay back

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Posted (edited)

Great rundown...Thanks!

But Jesus, never use such a bad photo. These days, online, it may haunt you for a lifetime. If you missed a decent shot, suck it up and accept it. We all take bad photos, but we don't have to show them.

Film and art schools, about the same. They spew out too many graduates for the amount of jobs. But if you are an artist...you gotta have the freedom to dream.

Edited by Daniel D. Teoli Jr.

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BIG UPDATE

I went back on Sunday for the award ceremony. All the intern kids were very happy to see me, asking to follow my insta etc etc.

Hung out there for literally 12 hours, talked it up with the camera crew. Turns out that festival was the first in the country to have the Blackmagic 6K pocket on demo. I looked right at it up close. they asked if I wanted to try shooting a little B-roll with it but I declined out of laziness.

Then there was some 20 year old producer for a film called Burning Cane. It was a big deal because the Director is 19 years old. They were all teen kids from New Orleans. At the Q and A I asked them if they felt like the Lil Wanye of filmmaking and I think he was too young to understand who Wayne was (from NOLA, signed record deal at 14) so didn't get the analogy.

THE AWARD CEREMONY ITSELF

So I went into the theater trying to find my producer. He's sitting at the very back row with a bunch of other people so I'm unable to sit next to him. A couple ladies asked "would you like me to move" and I was like "Nah I'll sit in the front like I'm expecting to win an award"
..... 15 MINUTES LATER WE WON BEST SHORT DOCUMENTARY

So I go up and get the trophy, they ask me to say a few words. First I thanked the producer and then I said "Shout out to the interns" causing ALL the interns to start loudly screaming from the back row. Then I got up even closer into the mic and followed it up with "they're not getting paid" and then the producer was like "Okay dude we gotta go now".

NOW HERE'S THE PART I WANT YOUR OPINION ON
The trophy had MY name on it along with the title of the film, no one else's, AND THE PRODUCER took the trophy home.
Is that supposed to happen? I know if it just had the title on it, it's the producer's take home. But my name being the only one engraved in it makes that situation different?

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1 hour ago, Max Field said:

BIG UPDATE

I went back on Sunday for the award ceremony. All the intern kids were very happy to see me, asking to follow my insta etc etc.

Hung out there for literally 12 hours, talked it up with the camera crew. Turns out that festival was the first in the country to have the Blackmagic 6K pocket on demo. I looked right at it up close. they asked if I wanted to try shooting a little B-roll with it but I declined out of laziness.

Then there was some 20 year old producer for a film called Burning Cane. It was a big deal because the Director is 19 years old. They were all teen kids from New Orleans. At the Q and A I asked them if they felt like the Lil Wanye of filmmaking and I think he was too young to understand who Wayne was (from NOLA, signed record deal at 14) so didn't get the analogy.

THE AWARD CEREMONY ITSELF

So I went into the theater trying to find my producer. He's sitting at the very back row with a bunch of other people so I'm unable to sit next to him. A couple ladies asked "would you like me to move" and I was like "Nah I'll sit in the front like I'm expecting to win an award"
..... 15 MINUTES LATER WE WON BEST SHORT DOCUMENTARY

So I go up and get the trophy, they ask me to say a few words. First I thanked the producer and then I said "Shout out to the interns" causing ALL the interns to start loudly screaming from the back row. Then I got up even closer into the mic and followed it up with "they're not getting paid" and then the producer was like "Okay dude we gotta go now".

NOW HERE'S THE PART I WANT YOUR OPINION ON
The trophy had MY name on it along with the title of the film, no one else's, AND THE PRODUCER took the trophy home.
Is that supposed to happen? I know if it just had the title on it, it's the producer's take home. But my name being the only one engraved in it makes that situation different?

Perhaps he'll let you have it every other Sunday between 9 and 10am.

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3 hours ago, Mark Dunn said:

Perhaps he'll let you have it every other Sunday between 9 and 10am.

Honestly the biggest knock about it is that I took a significant pay cut to direct the thing.

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