A friend of ours forwarded an article from The Atlantic that puts into words a problem we've seen with submissions in the past few years.
Now that everyone has access to HD cameras with nice lenses, everything is starting to look really pretty.
It's becoming easier and easier to shoot something that automatically looks professional. But that doesn't mean that the quality of submissions is getting better. In fact, having the ability to make a film look professional without a lot of work has made filmmakers lazy. With an automatically slick-looking film, young filmmakers are more inclined to settle with that and focus less focus on storytelling, character development, acting, etc. When we started our festival back in 2002, we would often get submissions on VHS tape that had technical limitations, but we could see how the filmmaker really struggled with what he or she had to make the movie as tight and good as possible.
Now, we get movies shot with DSLR cameras that look really professional visually, but are 10 minutes longer than they should be.
And let's not assume that a camera that gives you good depth of field and wonderfully saturated colors means that you know how to light, compose shots or operate the dang thing. The camera makes it look like a real movie, but it doesn't make it good.
Director Doug Bayne (whose Factoids and Slapstick and Tiny Legs of Fire have played numerous times at the Iron Mule) puts it nicely in his Open Letter to Canon, posted below.
So don't rely on your camera to take care of everything. And if you have access to another format, think about trying that out every once in a while and see how it affects your storytelling. We'd LOVE to get a submission in Super 8.