What we are looking for and not looking for:
You can read our FAQ page for questions
regarding what is underground/substream/psychotronic, as well as questions regarding
This page is here to give you an idea what kinds of films & videos MicroCineFest is interested in or not interested in, and to give tips on things to consider when making a film and submitting it to film festivals.
What are we looking for? Well, we're not as interested in "art" as we are in
"cool trash". While there's no specific rule of what we'll accept, there are
some things that always seem to do a better job at getting our attention, like:
- rock & roll
- mind-blowing experimental
- offbeat documentaries
- cool music videos
... if that's what you've made, you're on the right track.
It's easier to tell you what we're NOT looking for. Here's a list of things that are likely to earn a film rejection points:
- a serious reality-based drama (particularly starring twenty-somethings discussing relationships)
- a cute romantic comedy (particularly starring twenty-somethings discussing relationships)
- a gangster flick starring twenty-something guys with goatees, wearing sunglasses & blazers, walking around in parking lots holding guns sideways, with twenty-something girls playing hookers or mob-boss-wives (unless it's really funny... intentionally)
- a PBS-ish documentary, or a thrown-together documentary. We like documentaries, but we want offbeat subject matter AND half-decent production values (like the use of tripods, external microphones, and lights). We don't mind something educational, but we're mostly looking to be entertained. And we certainly don't want to be preached to, so no propaganda even if we might agree with your cause.
- a self-indulgent, depressing experimental piece. We like experimental when it's made with some thought, effort, and consideration for it's audience.
- television shows produced at college campus TV stations. Yes, you're creative and have mastered production techniques, and your friends think your show is hysterical... that's all great, but that alone doesn't mean it belongs in our festival.
- a film about a hopeful filmmaker who leaves his/her small hometown in hopes of making it big in Hollywood. He/she makes lots of interesting friends in Hollywood but can't seem to get that big break. So instead of giving up, he/she teams up with his/her new interesting friends and they make their own film... and it's autobiographical.
- an entire feature-length film that takes place in one location (usually it's an apartment, during a party, and all the characters are meant to be funny/sarcastic/cynical old friends, but they're really people we wouldn't want to be stuck at a party with for an hour and a half).*
- it's surprising how many entries we get that contain porn, masturbation, blowup dolls, dildos, strippers, bodily functions & fluids, and lots of other "dirty" things that make twelve-year-olds giggle. We've seen it. Shock value for shock value's sake just doesn't do much for us. There are many theaters & videostores that stay in business supplying audiences with porn - it's a big industry. And while you might find your genitals fascinating enough to videotape them and send it to us, please keep in mind that we have genitals of our own that we can look at whenever we feel like looking at genitals.
This list is here to help filmmakers decide whether or not to take the chance and enter their films into MicroCineFest's Call For Entries. It is not meant to insult any filmmakers who may have already made these types of films, especially any filmmakers who may have been rejected from MicroCineFest in the past. There are many film festivals that will gladly show films fitting any of the above descriptions, but we're likely not to. We could simply keep our mouths shut and pocket all those potential entry fees, but that's not our style. Besides, we want to sit through a film we're not interested in about as much as a filmmaker wants to waste an entry fee. If you're still not sure whether what you made is up our alley, check out our festival line-ups from previous years and see if we've already shown anything similar to what you've made.
*Not to add to any confusion, but it's important to point out that sometimes films fitting the above descriptions do get programmed into MicroCineFest. Case in point, our 1998 Grand Jury Award for Best Feature went to J. Greg DeFelice's BURY THE EVIDENCE, a feature-length film that takes place entirely in one apartment.
FILMMAKING TIPS And PROMOTION ADVICE:
We see a lot of D.I.Y. films each year, and we have noticed a lot of common annoyances among the films that end up getting rejected. So here are some things to consider when making your film in order to help keep your film from getting rejected by film festivals like ours:
- Be careful not to use bad music. Not everyone has the same taste in music, but you can tell a lot about a film and it's filmmaker by the music in the film. Taste is very subjective, so take this quiz: did you use techno music for a fight scene? has the music in your film been easily heard on commercial radio in the last ten years? did you use music from a local band who plays regularly at a venue that also hosts "foam nights"? Is 'hip hop' used to make any of your characters seem cooler? If you answered "Yes" to these questions, you're probably trying to serve an audience that's already being well-served.
- Avoid the "Annoyed Rule". Apparently there's an unwritten rule in filmmaking that if you can't write dialogue, and you can't direct actors, and your actors can't act, then you should make all of your characters talk to each other like they're annoyed with each other. This rarely amounts to films that are anything but annoying.
- Resist the "Opening Credits = Egomaniacal Waste Of Time" urge: [low, serious, musical tone] [big, bold logo] "Something Productions.... in association with [another big bold logo] Such-And-Such Film Partners...and [yet another logo] Someone Else Limited... presents... a [and yet another logo] Waste-of-Time Production of a film by So-And-So". Who? If you have that many "big deal names" and support behind your film, you don't need little film festivals like us. While you're still building a following for your work, you might want to consider getting your film going BEFORE your audience gets bored. Save credits like that for later in your career when people have actually heard of you and care, or for when all those credits are contractually required (you know, like in Hollywood movies). Seriously, most D.I.Y. films that start out with a ton of clever production company names and logos usually end up sucking, usually because the filmmaker has put more thought and effort into the credits and video box than the actual film.
- When asked to describe your film, remember that words like "surreal", "existential" and "dark comedy" are often mis-used by filmmakers who have made films that either aren't fully fleshed-out enough, or simpy do not make any sense.
-Paying homage to Lynch, Tarantino, Scorsese, Rodriguez, Linkletter, etc does not make you cutting edge... just unoriginal.
-Despite the advice from others who say it's a good idea to make personal connections with film fest staff members as a way of increasing your film's chance of acceptance, remember that bothering a film festival will not earn you points. People who work at film festivals are very busy and do not appreciate having their time unnecessarily wasted. Our festival, in particular, is run by volunteers in their spare time, and we try not to take any kind of personal relationships with filmmakers into consideration when determining the programming (except of course when we decide to reject a film because it's not good enough to be worth dealing with the high-maintenence filmmaker who made it).
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