When you screen films for a season, it’s fascinating to see storytelling trends emerge year after year. In some ways, I am getting an overview of what you all are making, and the parallel trains of thought that emerge are pretty cool to track.
Sometimes the trends that emerge are frustrating, because they fail over and over again. Every screener is different, and I definitely have a preference for more esoteric, challenging films. Those come with their own red flags and I’m even harder on films like that, but I appreciate them when I see them. In fact, I’m writing this post right now instead of finishing a review of a film I did not care for at all, because I want to make sure I’m bouncing it for the right reasons. Sarcasm aside, your festival screeners really do care and we want you to succeed.
That said, there’s things I love to see in films, and there’s things that are almost repellent when they pop up. For fun, and in no particular order, here’s a list of things that I see a lot, and feel the sadness of lazy storytelling every time they pop up:
* Drug Dealers
* Gun-driven narratives of any type
* Anything over 96 minutes long
* Anything with clearly uncleared music.
* Comedy montages.
* Creative wannabes pining over ex-girlfriends
* Pretty much ex-girlfriend involved narratives of any type
* The gay/lesbian sidekick
* VFX driven sci-fi pieces that play like demo reels, not stories.
* Anything shot in an LA apartment
* Anything shot in your friend’s Spanish-style LA home
* Los Angeles itself, especially when your characters drive around the Valley a lot or hang out in the alley behind your apartment
Sarcasm aside, I still watch your movie. And I will pass along a film with these red flags even if it has every one of these deal-breakers in it… if the story matters. Everything up there, most of the time, is a storytelling trap. They’ve all been seen too many times before, so if you’re working with those ideas, you need to be absolutely exceptional to stand out of the crowd.
(As always if you have questions, comments, think your three hour-drug-dealing-lesbian-