Here we are at the end of 2019, and what do I have to show for it? Well, Words to Live by went from screenplay to finished film over the course of the first half of the year, so there's that. The second half of the year, alas, hasn't been too favorable for the film. I am grateful that festivals in Lake Placid and Sioux City deemed it worthy of selection, but in the meantime I've received a lot of rejections – including, stingingly, from festivals that accepted 20 Matches in 2016, and even one (Anchorage) that awarded it Best Short. On the upside, it does speak to the integrity of film festivals, as many disgruntled filmmakers believe them to be rigged. I am proof: Anchorage can adore you in 2016, then dismiss you out of hand three years later. Sometimes it really does just depend on the work.
I do think Words to Live by is a fine film – certainly as fine a film as I could have made out of my screenplay – but it clearly isn't the unique and unusual thing that 20 Matches was. I'm still trying to be optimistic about its festival fortunes in 2020, as no fewer than thirty festivals have yet to weigh in on it. But let's just say that I'm not scheduling my calendar around any of them. Still, it would be nice to share the film with more people. I'd like to get at least one more acceptance letter.
In other news, on December 14 I officially get back all domestic distribution rights to Claustrophobia. It's been fifteen long years since Lionsgate released it on DVD, but very soon I can do whatever I want to with it: put it online, let people watch it for free or maybe charge them a buck... I have no idea. How do people watch indie movies these days? Anyway, one thing I will say: for the rest of time, this film will never again be known as "Serial Slayer".
2020 is otherwise an unknown entity. I currently have no fully-formed ideas for new films, and after all the time and money spent on Words to Live by, only to find that it's not connecting much with festival programmers, I need to reassess just what my hopes are for any future films I might make. Should I just make cheapies for fun, then dump them on YouTube? Should I shoot the works and try to get a feature going? Should I retire from filmmaking altogether? Your guess is as good as mine, dear reader. But until I grow absolutely bored with the whole enterprise, I'll at least keep writing Lists of 9 and movie reviews (I recently finished my 1,000th!) on this here website.