The Day the Submissions Viewer Sat Still

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Ever wondered what happens to a filmmaker's film after it has been submitted to EIFF? As a submissions viewer, let me explain...

As I write this I have just finished watching my twentieth film (I think) that has been submitted to EIFF 2014. And what a cracker it was too. Marked it with an A and sent on to the bigwig programmers who can then do the really important part and decide whether it gets in to the 68th edition of EIFF.

Next for me is another disc slid out of its little yellow sleeve (to mark it as feature fiction) and popped into my computer to begin afresh. I usually don’t watch two in a row so that I can let each film settle in my brain, but I have a big backlog – mostly due to the huge number of films that get submitted every year.

A quick cup o’ joe and its back to the screen. Of course, I can’t tell you anything about the films I’ve seen. Seriously. I would love to tell you about the great stuff from all over the world (Iran, South Africa, Norway, USA, Canada, Mexico, Australia, South Korea, France, Germany, Chile etc) that have found their way into my laptop over the last five weeks but I’m sworn to secrecy. Apparently I may lose my soul if I divulge anything. I guess that is meant metaphorically but you never know.

I’m not the only one watching either, there are roughly 20 of us (not physically sitting here with me, just in general) and we each have our own likes and dislikes, but between us I’m confident we could solve any Empire crossword without using IMDB. Although we perhaps aren’t good enough to win the Filmhouse quiz! Nevertheless its good to know that there’s back-up there...

So in goes the film and I sit still for an hour and a half taking it all in. Of course, if something’s not up to scratch, which inevitably does happen, I don’t go all Gort and start firing laser beams from my eyes (although that would be rather fantastic). It simply gets logged in our big ol’ database™, I write a short review and the film gets gently set aside. If the film doesn’t make it into the EIFF programme then hopefully they will make into another festival somewhere.

Magical elves (Submissions Team) collate, log and colour code each submission and then hand it on to the appropriate viewer and we watch ‘em. And no we don’t take bribes. And yes we watch each and every one start to finish.

So that’s how it works!

This is my first year doing submissions so I have to admit that at first I was a tad nervous. After all, every filmmaker, actor, cinematographer, composer, lighting technician, editor, gaffer, set designer, visual effects supervisor and best boy that has been involved in making the films has put in their blood, sweat, and tears (and more than likely their personal fortunes too) into creating a film, and it’s a daunting task making decisions about all that. But then again it’s not so bad.

It really is a privilege to watch all these films and uncover some new talent. And it feels good to know that there are not many people that have seen these films yet, but then that is what EIFF is here to change.

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