In accordance with our desire to pull back the curtain on the 2017 Diamond in the Rough Film Festival, we have decided to highlight some of the submissions which have stood out and gotten our attention. I will also explain some specifics about what made this entry stand out for us and how you could think about applying it to your own current or future work.
Now, to be absolutely clear and transparent, this does not guarantee that the film highlighted will be programmed. As our process continues to evolve, there are many factors which go into the final curating of the festival. We still have many months until submissions close and obviously many more future submissions to go through.
So, that said, let's get to our first "highlighted submission" SCAMPS AND GOONS.
The first two things that stood out were the poster and the trailer. The poster is nicely designed and they made sure to put together a solid trailer. I want to take a moment here to emphasize that trailers do matter. Yes, even for short films which is what SCAMPS AND GOONS is (just under 20 minutes). Why? A couple of reasons:
Film festivals love having video content for their websites and social media channels. It always generates more "clicks".
If there is a trailer, I always watch it before the actual movie. If it is good (like this one was), I will watch it with a tighter interest and, yes, give it "more of a chance".
When filmmakers take the time to cut a solid trailer, it shows they believe in their work and are trying just a bit harder to market it. Film festivals like filmmakers who go the extra mile to promote their film themselves.
SCAMPS AND GOONS was smart to take a topical issue - school bullying - and give it a fresh coat of filmmaking style by shooting in beautiful black and white. The young cast is very impressive and authentic, treading that fine line of treating a serious subject with respect but never making it a downer or taking themselves too seriously.
Many times we will get a submission about something serious (i.e. suicide, depression, domestic abuse) and the filmmaker will try and make it as ugly as possible in a desperate attempt to "shock" or to force an "emotional reaction". That can actually work against you more often than not.
SCAMPS AND GOONS looks and sounds beautiful but with this script and this cast this fine short could have made the same strong impression even if it was shot on a smart phone. This didn't need money to succeed. That's a key sign of a "Diamond in the Rough" movie.
So job well done to Director Giancarlo Diaz, Cinematographer Christian Sookiasian and the rest of his team. Your movie is standing out and making us notice.