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Notes in the Margins

independent film, entertainment, film festival, film events, film reviews

By Ron Merk

When I was thinking about the title for this series of musings on how to get noticed in the entertainment industry, I was a little concerned with the word “margins” since it often has the same meaning as “excluded from the center.” Then I thought again about studying back in college, and how important it was to notate my text books in the margins of the page to clarify a fact or issue in my mind, or to help me remember it easily. Thus, those notes in the margins became very important for me, since they essentialized the vast amount of information in the textbook on a specific subject. Notice that I didn’t say “simplified.” So, while many of us independent filmmakers are not in the mainstream of the entertainment industry, we should not consider ourselves in the margins, or on the sidelines or on the bench, just waiting for a chance to to to play in the big leagues, or as minor league baseball players call it, “the show.”

Having said that, I think it’s very important that we understand that our chances for “hitting a home run out of the park” are minute, and subject to chance, timing and luck. If you look at the number of feature films submitted to Sundance last year, and the number that actually were chosen to be in the festival, and then factor in the chances of getting picked up for distribution with a decent advance and a good deal, or success at the box office, you will see that the reality to moving from the margins to the mainstream are a small fraction of one per cent, a very small fraction.

Clearly, there are no guarantees, even if you do everything right. So, what’s can we do? I suppose the word that comes to be is passion. We need to find the passion for what we’re doing, and focus our energy on the project that we most believe in, and that we believe has the best chance for success. Stay with it, and don’t let go. Can I offer any other advice? The answer sadly is NO. But there’s a great quote from Franz Kafka to keep in mind: “Don’t bend; don’t water it down; don’t try to make it logical; don’t edit your own soul according to the fashion. Rather, follow your most intense obsessions mercilessly.”