Critics Can Be So Tough, Olfactory Thriller and Island Dog Robber Rejected for DC Shorts Film Festival

by Jimmy on July 8, 2010

I applied to the DC Shorts Film Festival and a few others back in April 2010.  The two movies I submitted were Island Dog Robber and Olfactory Thriller, two of my first real short movies.  The DC Shorts Film Festival was the first festival to get back to me and their response to my two movies was a resounding four thumbs down (2 thumbs x 2 movies = 4 thumbs).  Here are what the volunteer judges (anybody off the street can be a DC Shorts Film Festival judge as long as they show up for a meeting) said about my movies in their rejection email to me.  They are pretty harsh, but hilarious.

Three judges critiqued Island Dog Robber.  Four different judges critiqued Olfactory Thriller.  Only one judge out of seven recommended my film be accepted into the film festival and that was for Olfactory Thriller.  I appreciate that one judge.  Read their comments below.
DC Shorts Film Festival

Island Dog Robber
Judge 1:
I would recommend this film for inclusion in the festival:  false
Comments: The concept of this film was engaging as soon as it was clear that there was something going on with the dog. However, the execution was hard to digest. The transformation into a spirit (played by a human) contained a lot of scenes that were not pleasant to watch and did not add to the film (e.g., defecation, licking woman in bed, etc) and constantly cutting back to the dog droppings just made me want to turn away. The last scene of the semi-erotic shot with the dog and the man also took me out of the film. The scene of the girls finding the dog could have gotten the same concept across a lot quicker and a number of the two-person shots went on way too long. The dialogue could have been a lot tighter – felt improvised in a sloppy kind of way. The lighting in the house was a bit dark. I liked the opening scene with the island pic and the narration, very engaging.

Judge 2:
I would recommend this film for inclusion in the festival: false
Comments: The opening sequence drew me in and the dog was very cute, but after that it went from bad to worse. There’s a kernel of a good story in there and if you’d kept to it – and been able to overcome the challenging lighting and sound conditions – and scripted it rather than rely on rambly improv dialog this could have been good. But then things just started getting gross. I really didn’t need to watch the guy shitting on the floor, I knew how it got there. And I really really didn’t need to see the other guy rubbing dog food all over himself to get the dog to lick it off. I’m really not easily offended, but this one crossed the line.

Judge 3 (my personal favorite for comments):
I would recommend this film for inclusion in the festival:  false
A film about island tourists being robbed by the cute stray dog they bring home from the beach (who turns out to be some island evil spirit). The opening sequence was well done and drew me in to the story, but the film fails to live up to its potential. The plot idea of trained robber dogs could have been interesting. The tourists on the beach scene is poorly lit, has bad sound, and plays like a bad home movie. The director and DP needed to plan this scene better… Shoot later in the day so the light isn’t as harsh, or shoot mostly away from the water to avoid the difficult lighting. As for sound, the wind in the microphone was so bad, at one point I thought the story was going to have a storm come in! But the voice-over work is no better, if going to ADR at least should also be done outside. Finally this scene was clearly ad-libbed and rambled, a good example of why even what seems simple should have planned dialogue. There were several scenes that were creepy, odd, or disgusting that took away from the movie for me. The dog poop in the house was okay, until the scene when it was really the evil spirit man pooping (why did we have to watch him poop?) Why did the evil spirit man then have to go lick the sleeping woman? When the dog returns to his master, why did the master wipe wet dog food all over his chest for the dog to eat (while having some himself)? All of these things have nothing to do with being an island robber dog and just take away from the film.

Olfactory Thriller
Judge 1:
I would recommend this film for inclusion in the festival: false
Great location scenes for this film. It would have held my interest if this was 5-6 minutes in length. It took to long visually to get to the punch line. I also couldn’t make the leap as to why the main character was the target in this non-thriller.

Judge 2:
I would recommend this film for inclusion in the festival: false
This was an unusual film. It was supposed to be a horror and/or dramatic film but it was never clear as to where the story was going. There was little suspense but there was curiosity. This film could be made better if the cinematography and the acting were better. The story line was different but to make it a better film does require more preparation and continuity on the execution of the storyline.

Judge 3:
I would recommend this film for inclusion in the festival: false
The two characters — one in pursuit and the other in pursuit — started to feel trite after a few scenes. The climatic bathroom scene was fitting for the title and the general feel of the movie, but there was not much that I felt made for a really compelling watch — and the last scenes polluted (pun intended) those feelings that much more.

Judge 4:
I would recommend this film for inclusion in the festival: True
at first, i wouldn’t have recommended this, but as i thought about it before sharing these comments, i understood the film and the characters a little better, so yes, i would recommend it. this was a light suspense film with a humorous twist at the end.


So will I stop making movies after being so soundly rejected?  Of course not!  If anything, the critiques were spot on in terms of their technical advice.  However, I don’t think they realized all of these movies were made for under $20 and only took under 3 days of shooting.  In terms of their critiques on my choice of endings for the movies, I couldn’t disagree more.  I stand by my scatological endings.  I don’t understand why the judges were so turned off by something as natural as pooping.  Do they not look at their own poop when they turn to flush the toilet?  What disturbed people!

Now your turn to be the judge.  What do you think about the endings?

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