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  • Writer's pictureJacob Boelman

Sundance - Paxson Log

Updated: Dec 22, 2023

One would think that after completing a documentary one would be able to move on to their next project. However, despite completing the final cut of Paxson: A Home in Common this past spring and finalizing the coloring and sound passes in September, this project continues to feel like a full-time job.

Marketing and festival submissions take time. Our goal was to finish the completed cut of Paxson so we could submit it to Sundance. We accomplished this goal. But then came marketing research and figuring out the financing for festivals, tasks for which I had no assistance. Ultimately, my hope is Paxson will be seen and will bring attention to the issues it addresses - such as mental illness, the need for a living wage among caregivers, and the lack of support for assisted living.

The purpose of this blog is to provide an inside look at not only Paxson but the development and execution of other projects. This is all new to me. I must admit it’s really hard to be spending a bunch of money, I don’t have, simply to wait for a potential phone call to let me know Paxson made it into a festival. I’m writing this update because the first deadline for selection status is today. And the festival that is supposed to let me know if Paxson made it in is… Sundance. To say the least, Sundance has always been a long shot. Founded by Robert Redford in 1981, the festival was created as a means to bring light to the independent film market. Sundance helped to jumpstart a whole new avenue of filmmaking; one that for once did not require the big-name star, executive producer, or studio to greenlight a film. The likes of Steven Soderbergh, Quentin Tarantino, and Darren Aronofsky, all had their film careers jumpstarted because of their success at Sundance. All this said, unlike in the late 80’s and early 90’s when the Soderbergh’s and Tarantino’s were making their first features, today the ability to make a movie has never been more achievable and the people making them more numerous. Sundance is no longer a novelty, yet remains one of the most sought-after festival slots in the world. And here we are in the small town of Missoula, Montana.

Though I believe in Paxson to my core, these types of films just don’t have much hope of making it into a prestigious festival like Sundance. There are literal marketing teams promoting various films to festivals like Sundance. Right now the only “team” Paxson has is me. Paxson was made using ancient equipment, with no money, and absolutely zero notoriety. Honestly, I haven't done a good job connecting with my local film community, let alone the national one. From every way I look at it, being accepted into Sundance is a far fetch at best and not hearing from them up to this point is a bad sign. So the question now becomes why not wait a day, or maybe just a few hours, to hear from Sundance before making this first post for Dreamer’s Edge? Why burden you with this dower look at our Sundance prospects? Well, I’ve been thinking of updating this blog for literally months now. I knew that as much as I believe in Paxson’s message, and as hard as it feels like I’ve been working to get it seen, if I’m honest with myself, and with you, I can’t afford to put all my hope in one basket.

I know Paxson: A Home in Common is well done and is worth seeing, but I don’t trust my ability to market the film with the same excellence as I put into making it. I’m just not a marketing expert. And while I have submitted it to more than thirty other festivals the bottom line is I expect most of those to deny our film.

Still, we only need one. Paxson has been a fight from the start, requiring us to scrape and crawl our way through every stage of production. There has been no part of the creation process that has been easy. What has kept the project afloat is the raw honesty of the film and the filmmaking process itself. Why should the submission process be any different? My goal for this blog is, to be honest with those who take the time to read it. I promise you a candid look at what it takes to create and advocate for one’s dreams. At this moment, I’m feeling a bit dower and thus you get a dower blog post. But, I will keep fighting. I will continue to submit to festivals, develop my projects, and update you. My hope is the honesty I express in these pieces outweighs the need for personal validation.

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