November 2008

Funding the Festival Fantasy

A look at how the DC Shorts, Teaneck and Slamdance film festivals got their start.

The DC Shorts Film Festival promises filmmakers the ultimate festival experience.

We all love film festivals, but do we really know what goes into getting a festival up and running? The Independent takes a look at three young fests to see how they got their start, from the passion behind the festival to the funds that got them on the map.

Earlier this year, on a self-described “quixotic whim,” Oscar-winner Tilda Swinton rented an old Victorian ballroom named the Ballerina and set out to bring a film festival—complete with a quirky sense of imagination, beanbag chairs, and an unconventional lineup—to the seaside town of Nairn in the North East of Scotland.

The Transformation of Television

A review of the new cross-platform media center, boxee.

A screenshot of the boxee software.

The new social media center, boxee, aims to change the way you watch TV by bringing all your favorite media into one place, whether it be from the Internet, Hulu or CBS. But, could this mean a change for broadcasting independent films as well?

Joost, Hulu and boxee – one thing is for sure, names like the American Broadcasting Company (aka ABC) are a thing of the past. Instead, the future of broadcasting is filled with silly-named companies that aim to overthrow your idea of television.

With or Withoutabox?

A look at how the festival tool Withoutabox has changed the way festival directors and filmmakers handle submissions.

Ryan Gielen in production on <i>The Graduates</i>, a film submitted using the Withoutabox tool.

Withoutabox has prevented a lot of headaches since launching its online film festival submission service in 2000. But lacking any significant competition, prices have gone up, and now the company is owned by a huge corporation. Where does that leave the indie filmmaker and the low- to no-budget festivals, now hooked on the Withoutabox system? The Independent talks to festival directors, including IFFB director Adam Roffman and filmmakers such as Ryan Gielen (see trailer from his film The Graduates) to find out their take on the popular festival tool.

Film Festivals. Whether it’s Sundance or Cannes, or something more obscure, the phrase conjures images of red carpets, artsy auteurs, and late night parties… for fans. But to filmmakers, and the often-unpaid program coordinators, film festivals are linked to getting organized, getting seen, and selling either your film, or enough tickets to do it all again next year.

The Doc Doctor's Anatomy of a Film: Made In L.A.

The Documentary Doctor takes a look at filmmaker Almudena Carracedo's "Made In L.A."

Director/Cinematographer Almudena Carracedo filming in the street.  Credit: Felicity Murphy

The Doc Doctor, Fernanda Rossi, checks out Made In L.A. (See the trailer here), a documentary that takes a look at the experiences of three immigrant women fighting for their rights as they struggle, working in the garment sweatshops of Los Angeles.

About this column: Many filmmakers ponder in anguish, How do other people—celebrated people—do it? Am I taking too long to make this documentary? Does everybody spend as much money as I am spending, or am I spending too little? And when filmmakers share their lessons learned in interviews in the glossy trade magazines, their tales seem to follow the arc of otherworldy heroes rather than real documentary makers, i.e. human beings like you and me. So each month, the Doc Doctor will go out into the world (this real world) of filmmakers who are successful and find out how they made it. The "Anatomy of a Film Column" is a chance to learn from filmmakers' hits and misses in real life examples. —Fernanda Rossi, story consultant a.k.a. the Documentary Doctor

From Box Office to Ballot Box

A look at the role of independent filmmakers in the 2008 election.

Still from Robert Greenwald's film "Iraq For Sale: The War Profiteers."

With online distribution becoming a viable outlet for filmmakers, The Independent takes a look at how filmmakers are leveraging the growing audiences this election season to promote political films, from Michael Moore's Slacker Uprising (see trailer here) to David Zucker’s An American Carol (see trailer here), as well as strictly YouTube releases like this video by Noshpit Entertainment.

With days left until the 2008 presidential election, images are flooding airwaves and video streams, vying for position as the lasting impression conjured just moments before pulling the lever.