One of the most frequently requested volunteer positions is the chance to serve on our film submissions screening committee. The thinking goes something like this:
You mean I can do volunteer work that is nothing but watching movies?! Sign me up!
Which, at first glance, makes sense. Yes, being on the screening committee means you're going to see A LOT of movies in a very short time. But this is no popcorn-and-soda way to pass the time. We ask much more of our screeners, and it isn't all so glamorous!
Every film submitted to the festival (hundreds every season!) gets watched by at least two screening committee members. This is to ensure that if one viewer gives it a low rating, a second person - with their own perspectives and tastes - can also see it. Just because it didn't appeal to one person doesn't mean it won't appeal to others.
Each screening committee member is asked to rate the films they watch on a number of criteria. A film may have great acting, but the story just isn't up to par - we consider all angles when we think about what the festival audience will enjoy.
When all is said and done, we consider all the notes the screening committee has taken of the course of the process and sit down to determine which films have made the cut. This is both an invigorating and agonizing process, but always results in festival film selections that we're proud to feature.
Sure, watching movies for a few hours a week seems like a no-brainer. But as any of our screening committee members could tell you, there's a lot riding on their input - not the least of which is Joe MovieLover's festival experience. If we can find at least one film in our line-up of over a hundred that he's glad he got the chance to see, we've done our job!
image credit: Nataraj Metz via Flickr