Saturday, July 27, 2013

The New Breed Of Film Festival - Independent, New Media And Affordable

Traditional film festivals are desperately trying to evolve to keep pace with new technologies and mediums, not the least of which is the Internet itself. I've had heart to heart discussions with local film festivals and they are struggling to understand what it is modern audiences want, while still trying to maintain a decorum of respect for the history they have had in previous years or decades. They're asking questions like: "Should we be worried about competing online film festivals?" and "How do we plan, market and execute for today's youth?", etc. They should be concerned. Film festivals as we know it are rapidly changing.

Even the "film festival" name is outdated; film is on the way out the back door, if not digging a grave in the back yard already. Digital is what makes independent movie making tick these days with VERY affordable cameras being used by the new generation. In fact, I've seen compelling shorts done by children that are barely teenagers (A great chase scene - complete with fast cuts, handheld shakey cam and soundtrack).

It's all a symptom of the entire filmmaking industry changing on a dime. No more celluloid. Cheaper equipment and software. Free distribution via the Internet. It's what many of us have been waiting for, for a very long time. The wild west of filmmaking has arrived.

Case in point is the first annual NOVA INDEPENDENT CINEMA EXPO ( from Nova Scotia, Canada. Check them out. I simply love the simplicity of their offering and the cool categories for admission consideration: Short films (less than 10 minutes long, and can be absolutely any genre i.e. comedies, horrors, science fiction, etc. Submission fee* for short films is $5 per film. Full Length Films category is for films over 10 minutes long. Typically these are shorter than 30 minutes, but exceptions can be made. These films can be any genre (comedies, horrors, science fiction, etc.). Submission fee* for full length films is $10 per film. Cellular Phone Films - yes, it’s exactly as it sounds. Films shot entirely on cell phones! The film must have been shot on a cellular device, and the audio must be captured on same device. Submission fee* for cell phone films is $5 per film. Music Videos - are you a filmmaker that made a unique music video for a local band or artist? This is your category. Submission fee* for music videos is $5 per video.

Personally I'd like to see full length movies involved here too, but I understand the workload that these guys will probably be under to view all the submissions and at these affordable submission rates it's already a bargain. I'd recommend introducing full length movies, but also a first stage of adjudication through the use of an online voting platform. This will also allow for viral social networking to spread the festival and videos under consideration. Second stage could be a peer to peer review platform to see who gets to be screened and finally judges could review the finalists for the awards. Just my 2 cents.

The Cellular Phone Films category is genius. A no-brainer really, yet I haven't seen that category for a multi-genre festival before. The iPhone 5 for example has a great capability for shooting video and has available apps for anything from shooting to editing to visual effects. There is a cool piece of recording hardware (Rode iXY) that you can add on to improve your sound quality as well.

I'm anxious to see where all of this is heading. We have Kickstarter and Indiegogo eliminating the financial burden of filmmaking that are already much, much more affordable these days with affordable cameras (I use a hacked GH1 still and it continues to amaze me), lighting (LEDs are bright, run cool and cheap), free distribution (YouTube, Vimeo) and even Moby is giving away his music for filmmakers movie scores (!

And finally something else to definitely keep an eye on is S3D independent movies in film festivals. I certainly plan on doing that with DREADLOCK, the horror thriller that I've written and will be directing next summer through Phobia Films. The plan is to shoot native 3D and the choice of camera and rig is still up in the air. And you all know Tim Buttner - I'm hoping that he will be able to join me on the project as Director of Photography. I love the stuff he has done AND he has native 3D experience.

When is the next indie filmmaker going to pop up with an amazing project and wow the world? Is it you? Now's the time...

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Jim Dorey
jim (at) marketsaw (dot) com

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