We’re all squirrelling away here in Toronto in the longest, coldest winter ever, thinking about warm Houston. We’re prepping for our world premiere at Worldfest, contacting press in Houston as well as some indie film blogs that have a general readership (check out our first film review here). Who knows when we’ll next get into a film festival and so we want to make sure that we get the most bang for the buck out of this one. In fact, before we accepted the invitation to Houston we had a long discussion amongst the team about what to do: should we wait to hear from the Toronto International Film Festival or another “first tier” festival or accept from Houston. Worldfest is the original indie film fest and have a long list of first feature film alumnae who are very impressive indeed – Ang Lee, Stephen Spielberg, Spike Lee, the Coen Brothers, to name a few. But they’re considered a “second tier” festival and, of course, everyone wants to go to Cannes or Sundance or Toronto or SXSW – the big ones. However, we decided that we would be foolish to turn down an invite in order to wait for one that won’t notify accepted films for six months and is unlikely to happen. We’re a small film with no stars and no studio backing, made with credit cards, crowdfunding and lines of credit. Toronto is the launchpad for Oscar season films with major stars. The likelihood of getting into a top tier festival is extremely slim – but they all want the world premiere (or at least continental premiere) so we would have to sit on the film for six months and be unable to show it to anyone. That thought alone was unbearable to us. Nor is getting into a top tier festival the be-all and end-all for a film, particularly small indies. It probably wouldn’t get us distribution (again, films with stars get the majority of distribution deals even at “indie” film fests), though it would probably make it easier to get into other, second tier festivals. It’s a difficult judgment call.
In the end, the “bird in the hand is worth two in the bush” argument prevailed and we’re happy that it did. Our film has a Latino lead and Houston has a large Latino population who are “under-served” in terms of content. How do we know – besides taking a look at TV and film that is being made by the studios, where Latinos generally play gang members or cops who used to be gang members or dishwashers (nothing wrong with dishwashers it’s just that in films they don’t usually get names and have only one line), etc.: the interest that we got right away came from Latino news outlets. Manuel, our star, has already had one interview and there are a couple more major outlets who are interested in the film specifically because it has a Latino lead. Not to put too fine a point on it: that’s one of the reasons we want to make these kinds of movies – because we think movies, a major way that our culture talks to itself about who we are and our values, ought to reflect the way that we actually look and talk and dream. There’s enough movies being made every day with white, male leads who get the skinny, white girl out there. We don’t need to contribute to that, Hollywood (and most indies) have got that base covered.
Back to our preparations for Worldfest we’ve been trying to update our website, to make it more functional and add some pull quotes (nice things people have said about us). We’re getting together some promo postcards and some business cards for when we shmooze and hang out at the festival. And booking our rooms at the Crown Plaza hotel that is the film festival HQ. And now that we have something to talk about (in contrast to the months of picture editing in which there wasn’t much to say) we’re trying to “up” our social media game with the help of Mannal Butt, our enthusiastic intern. Everything seemed to be going according to plan and then we got an email yesterday from the festival that our BluRay DVD hadn’t arrived in Houston. We sent it FedEx and it was supposed to arrive by March 20th! After some panic we finally tracked it down: it was being held at the US border facility because we had failed to fill out a piece of paperwork that we weren’t given and which the Canada Post outlet hadn’t even heard of. We have in fact sent DVDs before without filling out a special form and had no problem. What we’d missed was a declaration that the video we were sending to the USA didn’t contain porn and wasn’t intended to foment an uprising against the government of the United States of America. Seriously. I’m not sure if they’ve heard of the internet or youtube. I mean, does anyone buy porn DVDs anymore?
On the other hand, maybe we are trying to start a revolution. Just a little bit.