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The Animation Pimp: How To Avoid Pissing Me Off or…. Ottawa Festival Entry Tips (aka Festival Rant #2)

The Animation Pimp gives his sage advice about how to submit films to the Ottawa Film Fest, thus not pissing him off.

Illustration by Andreas Hykade. Courtesy of Chris J. Robinson.

A few tips for making the life of festival organizers and entrants a little easier.

Fill out the entry form.

Do not send tapes in unmarked envelopes unaccompanied by an entry form or letter of introduction. No entry form, no entry. They get tossed.

Read the Rules and Regulations

Ottawa does not accept an entry unless the entry form is signed. If its signed, we are assuming that youve read and understand the rules.

Check your tape.

Youve sent a blank tape. Theres nothing on it. That hurts.

Cue your tape.

That means that you should rewind your tape to the beginning so that we dont see the middle of some Belgian TV movie of the week. It also means that we do not want to see color bars and black screens. Theres nothing more annoying than being blasted by that fuggin color bar BEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPP sound and THEN having to wait for an eternity as a smooth cloud of silent darkness lumbers by to ensure that your entry is tossed out faster than a gob.

Rejection

a. Nothing Personal

You didnt make the cut. Dont take it personally. We dont give it personally. Im not a fan of competition to begin with. Festivals are a collection of personal opinions, nothing more. Please dont send angry letters telling us were uncultured swines.

b. Dont ask for detailed feedback

And also please dont ask me to give you some feedback about what you can do to improve your film. What I dislike about your film might appeal to someone else. What I like might (very likely) abhor someone else.

c. Have some perspective

I know its especially hard for students but we get a lot of responses saying: but my parents, friends, teachers and classmates all loved my film! Look Im sure some of them did, just as Im certain that some of them just dont have the gonads to tell you they thought it sucked. But beyond that remember that youre making these films inside a little room Imagine animation as a big apartment (i.e., flat). Everyone is working away in their own little space own little world often oblivious to what is going on in other rooms near or far from them. Your film might very well be the best in your school, co-op, or studio, but you are just ONE little room among 1,700 or so other rooms filled with people all thinking the same thing.

d. Dont Brag in Defense

And PLEASE (Ive written this before somewhere) DO NOT start harping on about your film being accepted at the Golden Squirrel Short Film Day in Portland, Ontario. Im not trying to slag these festivals but they ARE NOT getting the same pool of animation that we are getting. Same goes for the big live-action festivals. Thats fantastic that your film got into Montreal, Venice, Cannes, etc.but that these festivals again receive a limited number of animation entries so dont get all huffy and puffy because you got fondled at Cannes and rejected in Ottawa (or Annecy for that matter).

This Invitation is NOT transferable

Congratulations, you made the cut.

When we send invitation letters to competition filmmakers we bold, CAPITALIZE, and underline THIS INVITIVATION IS NOT TRANSFERABLE. We are inviting YOU, the person who created the work, not your cameraman, producer, girlfriend or uncle. Im not really sure how much clearer we can be about it. You dont even need to read the rules this time cause its right there big and bold on this one page sheet. So please, stop asking.

I cant afford to ship my film, can you pay?

And when we say we cannot pay, said filmmaker gets quite belligerent. This suggests that you are not following Tip #2. If you did, youd see that while we do pay for return shipping and are always willing to forward your film to another festival, we do not have the means to pay for the shipping of your film TO the festival. This goes for Panorama and Competition films. Think about this before you enter. If you aint got the mullah to ship, then dont enter.

Beta transfers.

A minor problem but again we make it VERY clear that we cannot accept PAL system Beta tapes (sorry I didnt make up this ridiculous region system) yet every year we get blasted because for not accepting PAL (suggesting, again, that Tip #2 was overlooked). In a lot of cases we do make transfers, but they cost us about $70 (CAD) per five- to 10-minute film. Its not just an issue of money. When we make a transfer from the PAL tape you send, youre losing a generation during the procedure. So youre, lets say, 40-year-old Pops comes out looking 50 with 10 extra pounds. And you can guess what happens next this unable-to-pay-for-a-tape-but-able-to-pay-for-an-international-flight filmmaker shows up at the festival and gets all heated when his/her film dont look so good up on the screen (and hey we have damn good video projection so dont go there pallie.) Bad situation all round.

A little Sugar, Baby.

Were generally pretty proud of the films that win at Ottawa. Every year we try and organize Best of Ottawa programs that tour around North America and, sometimes, Europe or Asia. These tours are a MAJOR pain in the rectum to organize, but we do it because it promotes our festival and were trying to ensure that short animation gets seen by as many folks as possible. But ya know what? How about a little return on that? How about some of you winners listing your award win in Ottawa (or any other animation festival for that matter) on your festival poster, press sheets, videos, DVDs or even a film print?

Some of you animators are sluts. Youll love animation festivals like moist whores until you get your film into a live-action festival and then suddenly you tighten up like a nun. All that matters now is Cannes, Venice or Berlin. And yeah I get it you just want to be accepted period not just within the realm of animation. You wanna be loved by everyone and not just treated as one of those retards from that special world of animation.

Animation festivals EXIST to show your films, and the least you can do is acknowledge these festivals if you win an award. Why arent you putting that Grand Prize from Ottawa, Annecy, Stuttgart, Holland, etc. on your posters? If were not good enough for you, then why the fug are you even entering your film in our festivals? You owe it to you and us to show your award off. It helps you. It helps us.

That goes for studios too. If you win the Best TV Show award in Ottawa or Annecy, I wanna see/hear you telling people about it. A motley crew of international animation folks from wide and diverse backgrounds are judging you. If theyve chosen your show thats a pretty high compliment. Take it, embrace it, flaunt it, lick it.

I know that you spend a lot of time and money making stills, videotapes, film prints, paying for postage and posters etc All Im asking is that you take more care when youre sending your films to festivals. Certainly read the entry forms, but also find out more about the festival youre submitting too. Dont just go to their Website cause you aint gonna find anything objective there. Post questions on discussion forums, ask other animators, do a Google search, see if there are some (ha ha) past reviews of the festival. There are a lot of festivals appearing and disappearing each year and you owe it to yourself to take better care of your work. I mean you spent all this time and energy on it, so why wouldnt you care more about where its being shown?

As a writer, I send out articles and manuscripts. I make sure that I read the requirements of the magazine/publisher carefully before I send anything. I also check out what they published before and keep track of every place Ive sent my material. This IS pain in the ass work, but folks, its part and parcel of the artistic process. The work does not end when you finish the film or manuscript thats just the beginning.

P.S. Ottawa is going annual as of 2005. You heard it hear first.

P.P.S: Before SAFO 03 we had maybe two to three Panorama filmmakers decide VERY late in the game that they were not going to send us their film to screen. That's an INCREDIBLE pain in the ass. Not only are you screwing up our program but more importantly you've just taken away space that could have gone to a fucking filmmaker WHO WOULD HAVE APPRECIATED THE SCREENING TIME.

A few (not many) of you seem to think that being accepted for Panorama is a slap in the face. How's that? You're being shown in the same venue as the competition films and being seen by the same audience? So you're not gonna get a chintzy prize or small amount of cash... big deal... neither are 95% of those in competition.

In fact, most folks I know actually prefer the Panorama screenings and often go there looking for overlooked gems.

Chris Robinson is but a man. His hobbies include squirrel taunting, goat thumping, meat dancing and elderly peeping. You can find the results at http://asifa.net/robinson.

Note: Readers may contact any Animation World Magazine contributor by sending an e-mail to editor@awn.com.

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