Alexandra Fulton

Alexandra Fulton on the set of Eight-ish, my first festival submitted film.

I had a thought after listening to Tim Westergen on The Workbook Project talk about Pandora Radio and The Music Genome Project , and how that should be applied to films. Many filmmakers are frustrated with the rejections they get from film festivals. Arin Crumley and Susan Buice really shed a lot of light on this process with Four Eyed Monsters and the accompanying vlogs where they talk about the festival and marketing processes they went through. So add 2+2 and what you get is this: a gnome film festival.

If you’re not familiar with Genome, listen to Tim on the Workbook Project’s This Conference is being Recorded archives. The Genome project categories music, one track at a time into about 400 attributes with ratings in each one (as I understand it). As Tim says, this translates into a truly democratic form of music promotion based on these categories and based on comparing the music that a listener wants to hear with other music that has the same characteristics.

So there would really be no direct all encompassing human judgment factor on rating an entire film. It’s more on these individual traits. In film you could have categories like acting, actor, directing, director, photography, DP, genre, running time, locations, production company, on and on.

This makes so much sense for film festivals where fairness really is an important issue and one that is now clearly forsaken over branding, theme, diversity and other marketing factors that really are what drive film festivals.

Of course the Genoming [sic] of thousands of films submitted to festivals would be a monumental undertaking. So I think it would have to be something of a universal service for all festivals (like Withoutabox, which in fact already does this on a very small scale of non-merit factors), where you have a company categorize films and then you’d have festivals look at that database and select what they want. But again you could end up with festivals choosing films based more on marketing factors than quality or originality or other more merit type factors, and you’d also have to deal with devising a good objective way to rate acting, writing, directing and artist type performance.

Perhaps there could be a new wave of festivals that would choose film solely on the merit and quality categories, or at least those could be the primary factors with marketing playing a secondary role.

Another important point here is that filmmakers need and even crave objective feedback. This would give them that feedback and could even serve as a marketing information database for the entire industry. Filmmakers, studios, distributors and anyone involved with film production or distribution should be willing to pay at least something for such a service.

I’m both a filmmaker and an experienced data-driven software project developer and I think his would be really not a big deal to make happen. But it would cost. It would take a lot of labor to categorize films, and ongoing labor to maintain it; plus coming up with categorization strategies would also be a major hurdle. But probably Tim and the Gnome Project could help out with some insight on that.