Tuesday July 16, 2002


Io Tillet Wright (as Toby) on the bridge

There was a night in the heat of production, I don't remember specifically which one, when I went into the bathroom at Logsville Lodge to brush my teeth. As I faced myself in the mirror, a huge stream of blood began to flow from my left nostril. I am not prone to nosebleeds, so the sight of all that blood streaming down my face was somewhat alarming. But, after stuffing some tissue up my nose it soon stopped and I got on with the business of preparing for bed.

It was only some months later that I thought about that night and realized that I must have been under a huge amount of pressure to have suffered an uncharacteristic spontaneous nosebleed with no desiccated winter climate to blame. I suppose I was eating a fair amount of blood-thinning aspirin to avoid a heart attack, but still. The memory of that night comes to mind now as I enter the final phase of work on EvenHand: submitting it to film festivals.

After my first experience with the festival submission process on Cherry, I learned how similar it is to the process of applying to college. You fill out a bunch of forms, all pretty much the same yet maddeningly different. And the festivals almost all ask some pretty idiotic questions. Why, for instance, do they care how long in feet or meters my film is? It's 93 minutes and if it's accepted, I'll measure the damn thing with a 6" ruler. Another puzzlement is making us poor indies send in stills and slides of our film with the application. If our films are rejected, they just toss them out with our videocassettes. If they're accepted, there's plenty of time for us to choose some nice pictures for their catalogue.

Anyway, there's no question in my mind which festival is my first choice, but I also know how competitive the process is, so I've applied to a number of other festivals to cover my bets. Then, just like in senior year of high school, I will wait for a response. The only difference is that if you have to wait for the envelope in the festival world, you're sunk. If your film makes it in you get a call well before the losers get their skinny envelopes.

There's actually another difference now, too -- withoutabox. They have cleverly designed a universal film festival application form. After filling out the form on-line, you can then instantly submit to any of a growing list of dozens of member festivals, foreign and domestic. It's not free, but it's a great idea and it makes the most tedious part of the process a breeze, especially for some of the foreign festivals that often seem to have bizarre and often impossible to locate application forms and incomprehensible websites.

The whole process is utterly terrifying. If we don't get into a significant festival, how can we possibly expect to get a distribution deal? And if we can't get a distribution deal, we're...completely fucked. I get a mental nosebleed just thinking about it. So, buy a T-shirt and make me feel better.

Me and the Bills at Toby's mom's house
Nobody died that day, but it was touch & go.

- Joseph Pierson

GLOSSARY: "Blood in bloody action" is what my youngest daughter called bloody cuts and scrapes when she was seven or so.

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Copyright 2002 Cypress Films, Inc. All rights reserved.