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Editor's Note
A couple of years ago I wrote a blog post entitled, "So You Didn't Get Into Sundance..." It consists of a list of things you can do if you're not going to Park City this year, including taking a break from your movie and, after that break is finished, tightening your edit and working on DIY strategies.

Now that the Sundance lists are out, I keep meaning to update the post. But, really, what else is there to say? In fact, it occurred to me that the time I should have updated the post was six months ago. That's because the Sundance percentages don't change. Each year, actually, they get worse. Something like 5% of submitted films get into the festival, so filmmakers taking a Sundance-or-bust approach are making a massive roll of the dice.

I'm not telling you anything you don't already know here, but there's a difference between knowing something and acting upon it. Despite what filmmakers know as fact -- that the odds are against a Sundance premiere -- most still treat Sundance as their "Plan A." Those who haven't gotten in are only now moving onto their "Plan B," which is most likely a submission to another festival.

But what if Sundance is your "Plan B"? You make your plans as if you don't have a Sundance launch and by this point are well on your way to a DIY approach leveraging the community you've been building. If you get into Sundance, you stall that while you explore the options a festival berth provides. Okay, again, I'm not saying anything new here. Jon Reiss, for example, has been preaching this mantra for years. But, again, I'm always surprised to encounter so many filmmakers who seem adrift after their Sundance rejection letter.

I guess if I really want to go big picture on all of this, I'd rewind not six months but two years. That's because while I'm being encouraging here about DIY, I'll also admit that many films are adrift after a Sundance rejection. These are the independent films that are indeed hard to market without the imprimatur of a festival like Sundance. They need to be dubbed the best of the year's independent crop, and they need prime placement before critics and festival programmers in order to make their mark. I guess my advice here is that if you are making a "Sundance film," know that going in so you are doubly prepared if you don't make it. And if your film has elements that can be exploited outside the world of the independent film tastemakers, start shaping those now into coherent marketing ideas and get to work so you're not thrown for a loop if your "Plan A" doesn't come to fruition.

In other news, we're in the midst of our annual holiday subscription sale. Filmmaker subscriptions are discounted by 40%, and we have a lot of great DVDS, books and prizes that will be given to random new and returning subscribers. Please consider supporting us by subscribing or giving Filmmaker as a gift this holiday season.

You may have noticed some new writers on the blog. Michael Murie, whose Notes on Video blog is an essential round-up of the day's tech news, is contributing three times a week posts on camera and editing related topics. You can check out some of his posts here, including an interview with Jonathan Yi, whose humorous Canon EOS C300 test video has lit up the blogosphere. David Rosen's "Media Current" column has been retooled. Instead of a monthly recap of tech and regulatory topics, it's now an occasional series of more in-depth posts on those same topics, which filmmakers should know about and organize around. Today he writes about Verizon and their purchase of wireless spectrum licenses. Also, Dan Schoenbrun has been blogging from the IFP Narrative Lab, which is in progress right now. Here's his summary of "Ten Things Every Filmmaker Should Know about Rights." And, finally, congratulations to Nicholas Rombes, whose brilliant "Blue Velvet Project" is something I look forward to each week. His short story "Supernova" has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize, and you can read it here.

See you next week.

Scott Macaulay

Upcoming At IFP
IFP PROGRAM ALUMNI ANNOUNCED FOR SUNDANCE The 2012 festival season has already begun with the first announcements of films selected for the Sundance Film Festival, with nine IFP program-supported projects in the festival. The Sundance line-up includes Matthew Heineman and Susan Froemke's Escape Fire: The Fight to Rescue American Health Care, Lori Silverbush and Kristi Jacobson's Finding North, and Lauren Greenfield's The Queen of Versailles in the US Documentary Competition , and Mark Kitchell's documentary A Fierce Green Fire in Premieres. Narrative films include Benh Zeitlin's Beasts of the Southern Wild and Ry Russo-Young's Nobody Walks in the US Dramatic Competition, Erin Greenwell's My Best Day in NEXT, Musa Sayeed's Valley of Saints in World Dramatic Competition, and Terence Nance's An Oversimplification of Her Beauty in New Frontier. Nance's film was a selection of IFP's Independent Filmmaker Labs in 2008, Valley of Saints is fiscally sponsored by IFP, and all of the other films were supported by Independent Film Week's Project Forum from 2009-2011. Congratulations all!
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In This Newsletter
Editor's Note
I Melt With You
Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy
Young Adult
The Microbudget Conversation: The Journeymen
IFP Program Alumni Announced for Sundance
Fest Deadlines
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Hammer To Nail

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy plays out like a long game of chess whose pieces are constantly being moved across the board without ever reaching checkmate. Each of the many players thinks himself a king, but one by one they're shown to be little more than glorified pawns. The narrative they collectively form is at once dense but fluttering, broken into tiny fragments whose value as clues and signifiers is constantly being called into question and, once thoroughly vetted, reassembled into something resembling a coherent whole. This is the work of the viewer as much as it is of George Smiley, the outed member of '70s-era British Intelligence ("the Circus," as it's called in-house) with whom we partake in the intrigue. What with its code names, double agents, and international romance, Tomas Alfredson's adaptation of John Le Carre's revered novel has all the telltale trappings of a typical spy yarn, but it so deftly alters these conventions that there's seldom a moment at which we've any real idea of what might happen next. Like the characters themselves, neither Alfredson nor the film as a whole are given to revealing their next move; the constant guesswork that accompanies this slow unraveling is by turns thrilling and puzzling. The specter of communism haunts and informs these agents' every action as they scramble about to discover which of them has jumped ship and joined the Russians, but it's an afterthought compared to the shared realization that the prospect isn't without its merits. read more
New In Theaters
I MELT WITH YOU The latest from director Mark Pellington (Henry Poole is Here, Arlington Road) tracks a weekend of decadence shared between four middle-aged man-children, a premise that might sound like a bit of a Hangover ripoff on paper. But in execution, I Melt With You is a darker, grittier beast, punctuated by strong performances from Thomas Jane, Jeremy Piven, Rob Lowe, Christian McKay and Sasha Grey. As the four friends descend further into drug-fueled excess, they begin to open up to one another in surprising ways, and Pellington wrings equal amounts of drama and humor from the proceedings.
TINKER, TAILOR, SOLDIER, SPY A tense tale of espionage set within British Secret Intelligence Service, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is director Tomas Alfredson's follow-up to his acclaimed vampire romance, Let the Right One In. Starring Gary Oldman as washed-up spy George Smiley, and adapted from a well-loved novel by John le Carre, Tinker Tailor was nominated for seven awards at this year's BAFTAS. With this film, Alfredson has crafted the rare spy thriller made remarkable not by massive set pieces and cool gadgets, but through strong performances (Colin Firth, Tom Hardy, and Mark Strong co-star alongside Oldman) and a smart, unpredictable screenplay. See our video interview with Oldman.
YOUNG ADULT For his third film, director Jason Reitman (Up in the Air, Juno) re-teams with Juno-screenwriter Diablo Cody for a dark comedy that's more mature than their first collaboration, but just as hilarious. Young Adult stars Charlize Theron as Mavis, a self-involved ghost writer who returns to her hometown in an attempt to win back her now-married high school sweetheart (Patrick Wilson). Instead, she ends up forming an unlikely friendship with another of her former classmates - the crippled, misanthropic Matt (Patton Oswalt). Reitman's Young Adult is both painful and hilarious, tapping into the unique tragicomic tone that has helped establish him as one of America's most promising young directors.
Recent Blogs
This week on the blog, Zach Wigon shares his top 20 films of 2011 (pictured left), Dan Schoenbrun discusses FX's Louie, and Scott Macaulay presents Darren Aranovsky's Lou Reed/Metallica video

To read more posts from our blog, click here.
Newest Web Article

As most of us receive our early morning Sundance rejection email (which literally makes us the 99 percenters... again.) we should all take a moment and reflect: what drove us to this? What brought us to this moment where a single email is either enormously heartbreaking, or just another bump on the dirt road of DIY/micro filmmaking? I've asked fellow columnist, and bi-coastal filmmaker, Gregory Bayne to shed a bit of light on his practice of treating each project as the first uphill battle of many, and how that journey is essential for the career independent filmmaker. read more

Festival Deadlines
Florida Film Festival
Late Deadline: December 9
WAB Deadline: December 16
Festival Dates: April 13 - 22, 2012

Atlanta Film Festival
Late Deadline: December 9
WAB Deadline: December 16
Festival Dates: March 23 - April 3, 2012

Santa Barbara International Film Festival
Drop Deadline: December 9
Festival Dates: January 26 - February 5, 2012

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