I am excited to announce that my film LIPSTICK LIES is an official selection of the PHILIP K. DICK SCIENCE FICTION FILM FESTIVAL and will screen with them in Williamsburg Brooklyn in December. The festival will be taking place at IndieScreen which is a phenomenal venue for independent film. We hope to see you all there, for those who cannot make it, rest assured I’ll be writing up on the events right here on this blog. So please check back for more updates.
We don’t have the screening schedule as of yet, but in the meantime, I ask that you make sure you like our film and the film festival on Facebook and pay a visit to both their website and our film’s Festival Portal. All these pages have relevant information and are generally kept up to date (especially the Facebook pages).
Over the weekend I was asked by a fellow filmmaker, what I mean when I write or say “truly independent“. For those of you who have been following this blog or my work with some of the film festivals, I will often write or say something like “oh yeah, they show truly independent film” with a huge emphasis on truly.
My intention in integrating the word truly, whenever I utilize the term: independent film, is nothing more than a device to emphasize the level of independence involved in the production, while avoiding an emphasis on the monetary value of a film’s production (as happens with the term low budget film).
With the proliferation of HD technology, the line between independent film and low budget/no budget film is slowly but surely becoming blurred. There are some impeccable looking films out there that were produced without a budget – aside from the cost of an HD camcorder and some great locations and actors (who were probably all volunteers anyway). The independent aspect of it is when the filmmaker is just that: the filmmaker. engaged in all aspects of the production. Sometimes it’s one of two people collaborating but independent is as independent does. Not just a director with a staff working under him, which too, can be a production regarded as independent in the 1990’s sense of the term. I do not consider these movies independent though, even though they are produced outside of a studio, they’re still financed and the filmmaker is typically not doing all of the leg work on his or her own. It’s this level of non-studio film making that I refuse to describe as independent, but instead employ the term: micro-budget.
There needs to be recognition of these separate types of non-studio films within the festival and distribution systems, for no other reason than to allow each film to be judged on its own merits, whether by a festival jury or by the ticket buying public. It’s a mechanism that, at its core, would allow viewers to understand what the difference is between a multi-million dollar Hollywood film, a hundred thousand dollar low budget film, a twenty thousand dollar micro-budget film and a no budget indie. If we can begin to educate the public on this, then perhaps we can stimulate a bit of appreciation for the truly independent films – and maybe, just maybe, we might be able to create a stronger market for the work being created at the individual level.
Los Angeles based filmmakers Matthew Harrison and Tiprin Mandalay ventured out to Staten Island to talk with me about their film MY LITTLE HOLLYWOOD which recently had its North American premiere at NewFilmmakers New York. Matthew is an NYC native and got his start making Super 8mm films. He has won numerous awards including a Jury Recognition for Directing at the Sundance Film Festival.
MY LITTLE HOLLYWOOD was shot in 1996 on 8mm analog videotape in the style of Reality TV, before Reality TV came into existence. It stars Shawn Andrews (Dazed & Confused) and Tiprin Mandalay. Recently Matthew, with the help of Tiprin, rediscovered the footage and edited it into this unqiue feature film.
I had the opportunity to interview filmmaker Sarah Singh about her film THE SKY BELOW which explores the history of the partition of the subcontinent (India) which essentially created Pakistan and how this event has influenced the region and is directly and indirectly responsible for much of happenings that go on there to this very day. The film is very fascinating. You can purchase a copy of the full version at her website: http://www.sarahsingh.com/?page_id=26
Michael Rader is an artist in Brooklyn, who it turns out, has made a few experimental films. The most recent is MAN VERSUS ULTRAMAN, which I was introduced to by the 2012 Art of Brooklyn Film Festival. In the main lobby of the festival where filmmakers had their movie posters up, Michael had his poster and the special thing about it was that he painted it himself and brought the canvas in and hung it up. Not a copy, not a Photoshopped Kinkos printed run off – but the actual painting. Right away I thought WOW – I have to include this guy in my profile series!
MAN VERSUS ULTRAMAN screened at the AOBFF on the one night I couldn’t actually make it to the festival so, as is common with films and filmmakers that intrigue me, I went ahead and looked for it on the NewFilmmakers WithoutABox submissions list – low and behold it was there. Around the same time I was keying it into the Fall program, I got an e-mail from the director of the festival – a forward from Michael, asking that the film be placed in the same program I had just listed it in. What are the odds?
Now we have here, Michael’s Filmmaker Profile, filmed on location at his studio in Brooklyn, to promote his upcoming NewFilmmakers screening of MAN VERSUS ULTRAMAN. During the filming of the profile I found out that he had screened with us before, a Chaplin inspired film. Here is the story of both of those projects with clips from MAN VERSUS ULTRMAN. If you can make the 6PM program on Monday October 8th, , head on over to the Anthology Film Archives and join us!
I’d like to write briefly about the idea of “premiering”. It seems a lot of people have a misguided idea on when a film should and shouldn’t be billed as a premiere and also, to discuss a little bit about some festivals’ “premiere requirement” with certain film titles. Let’s start with the latter – first off, the rule that films have to be premiere status to get into a festival are generally for big release films that happen to be starting out in the festival circuit or micro-budget indie films that have big names attached and programming such films are being done direct with the festival and producers (essentially outside the typical submission process). Nine times out of ten, most festivals could care less if your short indie film has screened, especially if you’re submitting it through the standard process. Any festival that backdoor deals with producers for high end content will only program submissions when the work is created by a mutual contact or if it turns out to have some sort of marketability and the festival feels it could sell a few more tickets. Most submissions end up in a slush pile, unseen or worse, shredded by interns because it wasn’t properly labelled.
So let’s move on to the billing of a screening as a “premiere”. I noticed this year, at several festivals, filmmakers who had previously screened their films at other festivals or screening events would bill their upcoming screenings as “premieres”. Even though they’ve already screened. This was most prevalent at the 2012 Art of Brooklyn Film Festival and the 2012 Toronto Independent Film Festival. Some would even attempt to erase their screening history from the internet sites they control in an effort to re-write the reality of their film’s history: “oh wait, we “screened” at x-venue but y-venue is really the “premiere”. This happens a lot with smaller screening series vs. the big name festivals. It drives me crazy because it goes to show you that no matter how much you help a filmmaker get their work seen, when it comes down to “making it” – they’ll turn around and write you off just like that. It seems the common mechanism for getting away with this is to separate premiere’s by region, which is acceptable if you’re billing it as a “North America Premiere” vs. a “European Premiere”, but we’re talking about filmmakers who, to get into other festivals, bill their screenings by neighborhoods. In New York City alone you have “Manhattan premiere” and “Brooklyn premiere” and if a festival is big enough or notable enough, maybe you’ll have a “New York premiere”.
I think it’s time for an overhaul of this nonsense. The absurdity is hurting my pinky.
This year’s premiere of LIPSTICK LIES was certainly a class act – we pulled out all the stops. Teaming up with filmmaker Mario Corry who was premiering BOLOGNA & LETTUCE in the same block as our film, we bartered to get the night off on the right note. Mario supplied the sushi, chips, dip and wine. I supplied the media, programming, posters and venue. Together we screened our films with friends, family and filmmakers who seemed to truly appreciate each others work.
It was an easy night to say the least, apart from the natural stress one gets after putting months of planning into a single night. I can’t help but to think that this is what some brides must go through when it gets closer and closer to the “big day”. I suppose in this case I have one positive thing going for me: I didn’t have the conscience weighing on me that this could very well destroy dad’s credit rating. Yehehehe. It also occurred to me in retrospect that I haven’t put this much energy into a premiere before. Not of my own work anyway and I’m glad I did it for this project because I am starting to gauge at last what works and doesn’t and I must say… sushi definitely works.