Notes From a Festival Programmer: Rejection Ain't Pretty

It's festival submission time around the country. Which means we're getting closer and closer to the last week of November. Which as many of you know is when Sundance contacts the filmmakers who were accepted, and at that point, the "did we or did we not" waiting comes to an end for thousands of filmmakers. Over the next few months to a full year, the emails and letters come in and filmmakers either squeal with elation and start texting, Facbooking, or dialing if they're old school, with wild abandonment, or they gnash their teeth in frustration.

The harsh truth is that most films are going to be rejected more times than not. It's the nature of the beast. A function of logistics, taste and timing.

In the Washington City Paper, Mike Riggs has posted what happened with Jeff Krulik's Heavy Metal Picnic, after it premiered in August of 2010, on the festival circuit. If you're a filmmaker who has submitted a film to any of the 2012 festivals, this will either hearten you to know you're not alone, or you're going to get super depressed. I'll err on the side of  super depressed if I tell you that Krulik was a juror for ATLFF10 and even that didn't guarantee his selection for ATLFF11.

Heavy Metal Picnic was supposed to be Jeff Krulik's big break. The documentary filmmaker behind the cult smash Heavy Metal Parking Lot has made every kind of documentary over the course of two decades. But he hasn't made anything with as big a place in the zeitgeist as the impromptu footage he and John Heyn captured in 1986 outside a Judas Priest concert in Landover, Md. When Krulik came across some footage from a totally rocking field concert held in rural Maryland in the late ‘80s, he decided to tap intoHeavy Metal Parking Lot's magic one last time. Over the course of a year, Krulik tracked down and interviewed the festival's major personalities and cut those interviews with footage captured by a shoulder-cam and a CBS microphone stolen from Ronald Reagan's second inauguration. On August 6, 2010, Heavy Metal Picnic premiered to a packed house at the AFI Silver Theatre in Silver Spring. Here’s what’s happened since.

Read the rest of Heavy Metal Picnic's 2011 festival journey