While we continue to work on upgrading the new Team J website — to say nothing of our business — we’re very pleased to announce Team J has found the time to do a whole new type of consulting.

Version 2.0 of our website mentioned that Team J offered “cinema support services.” It was a vague term, but it seemed to encapsulate the general help we’ve offered in getting various media projects off the ground: everything from drafting schedules to, naturally, casting.

Organizing film festivals can be labor intensive and the judging process doubly so. Team J’s Bjorn Munson knows, having been a judge for several festivals and competitions over the years. If you are the least successful, your festival will soon become inundated with entries. And while the submission fees may help pay for the festival venue and other items to make the event a success, you are now faced with the time-intensive task of giving a fair evaluation of your fellow filmmakers’ works.

In other words, your festival needs a good judging process — and automation is a good idea.

So when fellow DMV filmmaker Francis Abbey was looking for judges for the relatively young Reel Independent Film Extravaganza (aka RIFE), Bjorn knew he didn’t have time to be a judge, but could help all those judges in making their system easier.

The idea of the system was to make it

  • Clear: We wanted the judges to immediately understand the rating scale. (Hint: a 10-point scale is not intuitive).
  • Thorough: Understanding that artistry can be on display in all facets of a film, we still wanted to balance the technical and aesthetic categories.
  • Definitive: It may be derided, and there may be mitigating factors, but we feel it’s still important to have a simple “thumbs up.” The judge can and should critique the film honestly, and as the festival programmer, you want to understand the reasoning, but in the end, you do want a recommendation.

In addition to designing the judging criteria, we also pointed them towards the same WYSIWYG form builder we used for Stonehenge registrations — and, because Bjorn gets a perverse pleasure out of doing them — a Visio flowchart showing the high-level process of how the judging should work.

We’re very excited to hear how the system works in practice, but we’re quite convinced this help the judges, help the festival organizers, and — ultimately — help audiences in seeing the best possible films.

Note Team J does not accept responsibility for any filmmaker not getting their film into RIFE. But then again, we don’t take credit for it getting in either. We do hope it does ensure the judges give each film a fair and complete shake.

And we’re very excited to see how RIFE does. If you haven’t already clicked on the links above, RIFE will be October 22 & 23 at the THEARC Theater at 1901 Mississippi Avenue SE in Washington, DC. If our schedules work out, you should see some of us from Team J there!