Film Crash Series Reboots With NYC Event

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[reblogged from Renegade Cinema]

In one of the biggest festival reboots in the history of independent cinema, the Film Crash Series is returning to the indie film scene with an all new screening event to take place in Brooklyn, New York in September. Reworked as an annual film festival that will showcase original and unusual films, the programming staff will select one feature and five shorts, to screen in one evening. In addition to participating in an incredible networking opportunity, awards and prizes will be presented to select filmmakers, recognizing achievements in feature film directing, short film production, student and new media projects.

Past Tix

Founded by filmmakers Matt Harrison, Scott Saunders and Karl Nussbaum, the series was born out of the creative tempest of Manhattan’s East Village and Lower East Side during the Roaring 80′s and early 90′s. Known for creating a vibrant gathering place for a forever burgeoning independent film community, Film Crash grew and eventually broke free of its downtown roots and the event ventured abroad. Returning to NYC after many years on hiatus, I am looking forward to seeing the series shake up the indie film community as it did when it originally launched.

Filmmakers still have an opportunity to get in on the action. For submission and deadline information, please visit:  www.filmfreeway.com/festival/FilmCrash

Filmmakers and film buffs far and wide should check out Film Crash on Facebook: www.facebook.com/filmcrashfestival

[reblogged from Renegade Cinema]

 

 

Spuyten Duyvil at Bad Film Fest

Spuyten Duyvil at Bad Film Fest 2014
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It’s so bad it’s good! That’s the idea behind the BAD FILM FESTIVAL and I’m humored and inspired to find out that my old YouTube Horror short SPUYTEN DUYVIL is an official selection of this year’s event.

Spuyten Duyvil was the first in a series of experimental shorts that allowed me to play around with different elements of the horror genre. This particular short experimented with brutality and gore (no other film I’ve made has either of those elements). Even though brutality & gore aren’t elements that I appreciate in movies, it was effective – so much so that Spuyten Duyvil remains my most popular YouTube upload to date.

Check out the April 11th schedule here. Spuyten Duyvil is second on the queue of shorts. Can’t make it to the screening on April 11th? That’s cool too – just head on over to YouTube and check out the original upload from 2008.

CLICK TO VIEW MOVIE

Festivals & Filmmakers: Here is FilmFreeway.com

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Reblogged from RenegadeCinema.com | Festivals & Filmmakers: Here is FilmFreeway.com

If you’re a filmmaker or film festival that has grown disgruntled with the online submission service WithoutABox, you’re not alone. Thousands of filmmakers from around the world, including yours truly, have grown tired of the overpriced and appalling service the Amazon owned website provides and up until recently there hasn’t been any viable alternative. No competitors were willing to take WAB head on. Of course there has been the increasingly popularFilmmakers & Festivals Against WithoutABox, but the petition-oriented site which is more of a declaration platform, doesn’t provide any real world solutions to the problem. The status quo remained the same for many years: there had been no other trustworthy, online solution for filmmakers and filmfestivals to connect with one another.

Thankfully times are changing and the good news for all of us is that FilmFreeway.com has launched and acquired quite an impressive crop offestivals. The new service is in full operation and today I had the opportunity to interview Zachary Jones, one of the founders of FilmFreeway, about this very ambitious project.

Renegade Cinema (RC): What inspired the idea of creating the long overdueFilmFreeway website?

Zachary Jones (ZJ): FilmFreeway was created, quite simply, as a solution to a problem.  In our view, festival submissions were broken.  The industry was dominated by a market leader with grossly outdated, dreadful technology, a miserable user experience, backed up by an unfair, predatory business model.  We saw an opportunity to create a product that would make film festivals’ and filmmakers’ lives easier.  FilmFreeway was created to simplify and improve film festival submissions with modern technology with a fair business model.

[read more at Renegade Cinema]

Festival Programming / What Are “Good” Practices?

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Lately I’ve been engage in a lot of discussion regarding what constitutes “good” and “honest” programming practices, at least as far as film festival programming is concerned.  It’s a hot topic this year and I feel I should weigh in.  For years I’ve struggled with the film festival circuit – the system as a whole, mainly because I disagree with it.  A few years ago I started volunteering for several film festivals and screening series’ in an effort to understand it better but this only made things more confusing.  The only constant that seems to exist in the festival world is that there aren’t really any truly honest programming practices taking place, at least, that I witnessed.

My first behind the scenes festival experience came when I was an intern at a film magazine in the fall of 2001.  This particular magazine was putting on a film festival and their editorial staff was responsible for viewing the submissions and making the official selections.  I’ve written about this experience before, mainly as a warning to filmmakers: the editorial staff didn’t watch the films, they played the tapes while they worked but only when something of signifance stood out did they pay a little more attention.  For example: one of the submissions had William Baldwin as an actor, one of the editors noticed this and immediately approved the film for exhibition, without watching it further.  Not a very honest way to program.

A programmer in New York once told me that he doesn’t consider any work that isn’t shot on a superior format: film or Red cinema.  He wouldn’t even take 1080pHD anymore.  I told him “but Hugo was shot in 1080″ and he’d say “and I probably wouldn’t have accepted it”.  This guy didn’t last long – in fact he only had three years and abruptly quit the festival game because he wasn’t getting the content he had “hoped” for.  I assure you too, he might be gone but there are other film festivals that stigmatize raw format just as much as this guy – and some of them are ultra successful. Recently, my arch nemesis, Indiewire, published an article where staff from SxSW give their tips to filmmakers who are thinking about submitting. While these tips are generally meant to be helpful, I can’t help but to be conflicted as far as seeing eye to eye with their programming practices.  For example, one thing I agree with is that you should wait until your cut is final before submitting – programmers often only watch films once and if you send in a rough cut or an assembly and that version of the film is mind blowing – you’re out.  This is true for every festival and series – wait until it’s actually completed before submitting!  Janet Pierson insists that premier status matters and this is true for a lot of the bigger film festival and honestly I think it’s the most ridiculous rule a festival can have. The way I see it is that premiere status should NEVER matter – if it’s a good film and worth screening, it should be considered just as much as any other film, whether or not it has officially “premiered”.  Additionally, many filmmaker have started to label every single one of their screenings as premieres, often resorting to classifying each “premiere” by geographical location: New York Premiere, LA Premiere,. “this is our TEXAS premiere” and the fuckers actually get away with it too.  I continue to be baffled that this obvious bullshit flies with most of these film festivals.

This morning Emelyn Stuart, one of the organizers and programmers for the new Ocktober Music & Film Festival published a comment on her Facebook page, in regards to her first time experience as a festival programmer:

As a first time Festival Director (who was also in charge of programming) there are several lessons I learned that I want to share with you. 

1) Make your opening scene as strong as possible. If the judges aren’t “captivated” in the first couple of scenes, they may not watch your entire film. 

2) Several Filmmakers only submitted ONE DVD even though we asked for two, in several cases the ONE DVD they sent had problems, so they were disqualified. Follow instructions! 

3) Your synopsis is the introduction to your film, it is the first thing Festival programmers see – make sure it is interesting & intriguing. 

In this comment, Emelyn openly admits that she will not watch a film all the way through if it starts off slow. This in and of itself is complete and utter dishonestly as far as programming practices and festival integrity is concerned.  Obviously taste is an issue for all programmers, however, if it becomes a common rule that stories which take their time are to be rejected, there’s something seriously wrong!  In addition, I’ve seen fantastic films made by some incredibly talented filmmakers who couldn’t write a synopsis if their lives depended on it – I think maybe Emelyn needs to re-evaluate some of her core guidelines as far as festival programming goes.  Emelyn: you’d be surprised by some of the fantastic content that’s out there, provided you actually watch it and stop looking for reasons to take the lazy way out! Additionally, Emelyn received a comment in response to this posting from Robert LaRue, who insists that sending a festival a “24 minute experimental animation is not a good idea” essentially admitting that he would reject a work based on those perimeters alone without giving the film an honest consideration.  The fact that Stuart Film Group “liked” the comment suggests that her festival programmers agree and hold the same bias up against such films.

Some of the ideals I’ve instilled on the festivals I’ve worked with, and managed to change for the better, is honesty in programming. Among the rules I’ve pressed festivals to adopt when reviewing and programming paid submissions are: All films are watched twice by at least four different people – this rule is important and should be common across the board. Those four people should always consist of two men and two woman with an age range of 25-40 years. This is the bare minimum I believe a festival can get away with, as far as having a sufficiently balanced programming jury. The more the better too, with numbers comes honesty – you have people keeping one-another in check. Mix it up: race and culture is a huge issue with programming content.  You need to have people on your jury who understand that America is a mesh of different cultures and therefore you’re going to receive films made by people you might not understand and you can’t adequately create a program that caters to all those cultures if you don’t understand them. Art house: art house cinema is incredibly important and I believe all film festivals should have a section for this, if at least, for no other reason than to generate street cred and to maintain the integrity of the core art.  There are a lot of cinemaphiles who would be willing to donate their time to help get art house and Avant-garde projects programmed into the festival circuit, more so than is currently done.  This is something I’m constantly pushing for, but tend to get little traction.

Thanks for your time and as always, cheers.

-Eric Norcross

Reference Links:

IndieWire: 5 Tips for FIlmmaker Applying to SxSW: http://www.indiewire.com/article/5-tips-for-filmmakers-applying-to-sxsw-from-the-festivals-programmers

Emelyn Stuart / Stuart Film Group: https://www.facebook.com/emelynstuart

Emelyn Stuart Emelyn Stuart 2

Una Noche

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una-noche_592x299The other day I found myself walking by the IFC Theater in New York City where I saw some men and women putting up advertisements for a film screening of Una Noche.  One of the women handed me a post-card promoting the film.  As I walked toward the marquee to get a look at some of the other upcoming features, I noticed a young couple observing the Una Noche poster and commenting on the festival laurels.  “Winner of the Tribeca Film Festival?” the young man said as his girlfriend snarled, “fuck that” he said, “what makes them think I want to see the movie now?” the young man continued to bitch as he and his girlfriend walked away, laughing mockingly.

I spent many hours since then thinking about whether or not to write about this.  It wasn’t by any measure an odd or different experience.  I’ve seen many people boycott a film for some of the stupidest reasons one could think of.  What is of interest to me is that the “winner” laurels, which the filmmakers clearly see as an achievement, actually pushed someone away, rather than attract them to the film.  Has the film festival awards culture become such an institution that award winning filmmakers lose value with the locals here?  If this is so, it’s a fascinating, if not a phenomenal development in how film culture is changing.  I’m not sure how I feel about this.  I want to be angry about it, but at the same time have found solace and relief.  There’s something about this action that has me realizing that maybe powerful organizations like this don’t have the upper hand all the time.  But what does that say about the achievements filmmakers have won in the past?  How much do they actually matter, aside from reminding the individual artist that their work is of value to someone…. somewhere?  Uh… maybe I shouldn’t let it weigh on me too much.

Here is a little bit more about the film, for those of you who actually wish to judge the work on its own merits: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2184331/combined

-E

Filmmakers & Film Festivals Against Withoutabox

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Filmmakers & Film Festivals Against Withoutabox. is a movement that was started back in 2011 (and quite possibly had its seeds planted well before) and now has upwards of 11,000 followers as of August 18, 2013 and includes festivals as notable as the Honolulu Film Awards, which recently had to change it’s name from the Honolulu International Film Awards and even some of the majors.  A blog posted in September 2011, on Blogspot, lists several detailed reasons as to why this movement is relevant and necessary to the future of the independent film community.

Included on the list of reasons film festivals should avoid doing business with Withoutabox are the fees and rules that come with operating under the WAB umbrella.  They make it incredibly difficult for festivals to operator efficiently, to grow exponentially and put too much strain on the filmmaker, at least as far as financial contribution goes.  You can read it in detail here: http://boycottwithoutabox.blogspot.com/  These complaints aren’t uncommon with film festivals and even some of the majors have started pulling their festivals from WAB’s list of partners.

I have utilized Withoutabox both as a filmmaker and a festival programmer and coordinator.  In addition, I had attempted to start a film series in New York, that would be completely free of submission fees.  The only problem was that Withoutabox didn’t like the idea of hosting a film series  that didn’t involve any kind of currency exchange. The catch to having a free-to-submit to festival listed on their site is that they would require the festival coordinators to put down thousands of dollars.  This was unacceptable and I never got this particular series off the ground.  This is why festivals continue to program via the antiquated “pay to submit to” system.  It’s not so much about covering operating costs, but because the submission platform they use requires fees, that the filmmakers are expected to front.

Other film festivals I’ve worked with on the programming level have been endlessly bullied by WAB and its ridiculous policies to the point where some of them have invested in an online submission tool of their own.  I have even gone so far as to discuss the idea of collaborating with some of these festivals to  develop an open source submission platform which can be tailored by any festival or series and added to their websites, free of charge so long as they have a web developer competent enough to create a kick ass site. They can choose between having submission fees or not and if they choose the latter, they don’t have to fear being financially punished and can pick and choose between multiple service providers to handle any payments or refunds. In my opinion, this is the most logical solution to the WAB monopoly and allows a constant to be maintained across a wide gamut of film festivals so filmmakers can become familiar with a single basic system.

Anthony Kaufman, who wrote a blog on IndieWire (a website I detest but the journalist in me feels I should at least reference it briefly) had made some similar points.  Kaufman’s article concentrated more on WAB’s outdated technology platform and how terrible the films looked in their online video system. In his article, Kaufman interviewed Barbara Morgan, the Executive Director of the Austin Film Festival.  She is quoted as saying “Before Withoutabox, it was easier to be a festival, we did our own marketing, we could track our own marketing, we reached a tremendous amount of filmmakers on our own. When we went the way of Withoutabox, that opened up all kinds of issues…. I guess the biggest issue with them is that we didn’t really need them, and then we had to pay for something that we didn’t really need.”  I think this rings true for many film festivals, both small and large.  The mega film festivals have already started dropping their affiliation with WAB and the smaller ones are quickly following suit.  It has gotten to the point where many of them are realizing they don’t actually need WAB to run a good, solid film festival.

In my opinion as a filmmaker and a programmer, the big problem with WAB is that filmmakers don’t want to engage in any real research when it comes to finding a festival to whom they can submit their work.  WAB makes it ridiculously easy to locate a festival and send them your film, a service which at the start seemed like a blessing.  The reality, it seems, is that filmmakers spend hundreds and hundreds of dollars in one bout of submissions to maybe, five to ten festivals, all through Withoutabox and most of the filmmakers don’t bother visiting the festival’s sites to look at the types of films that particular festival has programmed in the past.  This results in a huge number of disappointments when the majority receive rejection notices.  Thus, filmmakers file complaints against said festivals, WAB investigates and thus a vicious circle of “what’s wrong with the system, who’s fault is it” begins and the filmmakers, who failed to do any real research, are made to look like helpless victims.  Many filmmakers love this because they essentially get attention and press for being complete and utter failures, while sticking it to the festival that rejected their work.

Submitting to the festival circuit used to take real work; sitting down in a library and opening several books on film festivals and making phone calls etc.  It’s now TOO EASY and we’re TOO OUT OF TOUCH with the festival coordinators to make dumping any submission fee really truly worth it. Not only do film festivals need to adopt a new submission platform/system, but filmmakers need to step up their game and stop blindly dumping submission fees to any old festival that comes up on a list.  Research is key. I say again, research is key. I say one more time: RESEARCH IS KEY!

All the indie legends that started out in the festival circuit didn’t get there by submitting through Withoutabox.  Heck, WAB wasn’t in existence until well after the 90’s indie hayday had ended.  These indie film leaders researched and submitted the old way.  Many of them got invited to the major festivals because they were inventive and didn’t depend on a computer system to get their work out there.  They made SURE their movies were seen by the RIGHT people.  This is the kind of initiative filmmakers need start taking again, otherwise it’s all for naught. WAB may not openly post easily accessible information on how many submissions are festival receives, vs. how many it programs, but that data is out there and a good festival is willing to share such info with you if you ask for it.

-Eric

The Indie Film Community

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I write today with a damaged heart.  For several years now I have made a conscious effort to build up the independent film community in New York by volunteering at various film festivals, interviewing filmmakers and essentially networking the hell out of the artists who live and work here.  The idea of course is to connect every single one of us in a way where we don’t have to function as strangers or fear each other’s success.  Prior to 2010, so many filmmakers in this city treated their peers like they were competition but this just isn’t the case.  Art is so drastically different, especially on the independent level, that it’s absurd to think indie filmmakers are in competition with one another.  I have applied this logic to film festivals as well, united many of them by introduction or bridging them together through programming.

This month, some of the festivals I’ve worked with to solidify their involvement in the indie film community have come under attack.

indiewirescreenshotOn July 30th, IndieWire.com had published an extremely venomous article written by one JASON GUERRASIO.  It’s called “Is This Film Festival A Scam? Sometimes, It’s Not So Obvious“.  The title was changed the following day to “Can You Trust This Film Festival” after a notice was posted on the message board, by a lawyer citing that the title crosses the line from free speech to defamation.  I’ve taken an evening to break down Jason’s article, or should I say, rip it the fuck apart, in an effort to defend one of the festivals I truly respect, MFF.  I screened with MFF in 2012 and have been working with their founder, Philip J. Nelson for about a year now, to help with the branding of the festival and find new ways to build it as a service to the indie film community.  When I met Phil last year at the 6th annual festival, I gauged right away that he was a good man who believed in the future of independent film and wanted to be a part of many filmmakers’ successes.  That is why, upon seeing Guerrasio’s ridiculous article, I flipped a lid.  I initially responded to the article with a very well thought out comment that was four paragraphs long.  It was polite and offered a very good argument to why the article is inappropriate and biased.  The comment has since disappeared from the site.

My missing comment aside, I find Guerrasio’s article suspicious to say the least, mainly because this “journalist” managed to pinpoint the top most troublesome filmmakers of the past two years and tell their “horror” stories to the indie film world, only to do the entire indie film community a disservice.  It turns out, after some light investigation, that Jason is actually an employee at the Tribeca Film Institute, which as you all know, is an affiliate of the Tribeca Film Festival as well as Tribeca Cinemas.  This is important information for later.  The first part of the article I would like to comment on revolves around one Mira Gibson, a filmmaker who made a movie called “Warfield“:

Article excerpt:

“It was a fucking nightmare.” That’s how Mira Gibson described the premiere of her film “Warfield” at the Manhattan Film Festival last year. Certain it wouldn’t be accepted at the New York Film Festival or Tribeca, the Brooklynite wanted to screen in the city and thought MFF would be a good fit. (Editor’s note: Manhattan Film Festival should not be confused with the Manhattan Short Film Festival, a completely separate organization.)

She submitted her film and entry fee through online service Withoutabox; when the film was accepted, Gibson hustled to put the final touches in post. About 10 weeks before the 2012 MFF, she sent “Warfield” in the form of a thumb drive, along with specs.

When her big night arrived, Gibson was anxious—and not because she was about to unveil a film that she’d been hyping for months to her agent, manager, family, friends, cast and crew. The venue wasn’t readymade for a movie premiere: That year, the festival was screening films at The Producer’s Club, a Times Square space more suited for theater work.

It proved to be an omen of things to come.

As the lights went down and the picture came up, Gibson was horrified. “It’s the wrong one!” she yelled out. Her first audience was watching the version she’d submitted for acceptance—a work-in-progress with no color or audio correction, no credits or the score.

I remember Gibson from the 2012 season. I remember her wigging out at her screening because she didn’t like the venue and felt embarrassed that it was being held at the Producer’s Club. This was the same venue I got to screen my film, Caroline of Virginia, and I had no complaints. My cast and family had no complaints either. In fact, none of the filmmakers that screened in my block had complaints, ‘nor did most of the filmmakers of the other blocks I sat in on. In 2012 I attended almost all of the screenings, between the first Sunday of the festival and the last and she was maybe one of two filmmakers who pitched a fit about the quality of the projection.  Phil responded by re-programming the film on another day at another venue, the Hunger College Lang Auditiorium.

This woman doesn't look too unhappy, judging by the tweet and the pic she attached.

This woman doesn’t look too unhappy, judging by the tweet and the pic she attached.

I had the pleasure of talking to Mira again, at her second screening. She was in a relatively good mood and told me she was “impressed” by the festival and by their response to the situation. I tried to talk to her about the film, but she didn’t seem to want to talk to me about it. Her film was about a child rapist getting let out of prison so I thought it warranted some sort of discussion on the social ramifications of the subject, but she didn’t seem to have the ammo to go there. It’s strange that she was so angry about not having a Q&A.

It should be noted that Mira responded to the article on the comments section, regarding her interview with Guerrasio.  Gibson responded to me directly, insisting that she did not remember me and that she had plenty of nice things to say about MFF but Guerrasio chose not to use them.  Her comment has also disappeared from the website.

Article Excerpt:

On the surface, the festival sounds like a hidden gem among the thousands. However, after seven years, its profile remains very low (although for its first four years, its name was Independent Features Film Festival). And all the filmmakers interviewed for this story — whether they enjoyed the festival or not—commented on its rampant disorganization, lack of communication and screening ineptitude.

Seems like the writer, who works for the organization that works side by side with the Tribeca Film Festival, is throwing words around the MFF name to discredit it and keep it from growing.  Festivals start small – you can’t expect a festival that doesn’t have Bobby DeNiro as its mascot, to operate on that level do you?  Seriously, it’s an INDIE FILM festival!  It’s small, it operates on a very tight, out of pocket budget and it has kept a low profile because that’s the intention of its founder.  Just because a festival is high profile, does not make it a good festival, at least, not for independent film.

Article excerpt:

L.A.-based filmmaker Timothy L. Anderson screened his debut feature, the Coolio-starring dark comedy “Two Hundred Thousand Dirty,” at the 2013 MFF. Only available to fly to town on the day of his screening, Anderson was having lunch with a friend in midtown and prepared to do a final social media blast about the premiere when he got a call from his AD that the location on their Screen Booker page suddenly changed from the East Village’s Quad Cinema to Hunter College on the Upper East Side.”I was never emailed or called at all,” said Anderson about the change.

Panic ensued: Unable to get in touch with his festival contact over the phone, Anderson rushed to the Quad for answers and found only volunteers and staff who had none. Anderson then spent two hours waiting in the lobby until Nelson showed up, who only explained that there were booking problems.

“We did postcards saying it was at the Quad and they were right next to him as we were talking,” said Anderson. “So no one at the festival saw these and saw they were wrong? My lead actor was at the opening night party, no one said anything to him about it. I told [Nelson], ‘If you walk to the Quad and find out the film is now uptown, you’re just going to go to a bar.’” With only three hours before his screening, Anderson suggested a shuttle service.

“There were such repeated instances of clusterfuck.” 

Philip went above and beyond to correct this mis-communication and initially I was appalled that the filmmaker had cooperated with the interviewer, until I had been informed, by the filmmaker, that Guerrasio had omitted a very important piece of information: the filmmaker never felt scammed, and still doesn’t.  Philip paid for limo rides to the Hunter College venue, out of his own pocket, to keep things on an even keel.

You can see Anderson’s response posted in the gallery at the bottom of this article as an un-edited screen shot.

SUBMISSIONS

As I stated before, I was a selected filmmaker at the 2012 film festival. Yes, I won an award. It might not mean much to the main stream film industry, but it sure the heck meant a lot to me and it still does.  Someone liked my work enough to give me a screening and on top of that, a plaque.  Call it ego, or whatever the hell you want, but when you’ve gone through what I did to get my films made – dammit I want a place to screen and MFF provided it and I couldn’t be happier.  Mind you, the same film had been rejected from almost every other independent film festival in New York because of its awkward running time.  At 40 minutes most film festivals were unwilling to try and fit it into their program.  Phil took the challenge and made it work.  He has since acquired the reputation of being able to accept medium length films that other festivals are so unwilling to take a good look at.  My invitation to submit to the 2012 festival was done so because I had submitted to the 2011 festival and Philip couldn’t fit it into that year’s program because of the awkward run time that I mentioned.  He invited me to resubmit because he truly believed in the film, regardless of its run time.

As of this year, at my recommendation, it is now MFF policy to invite filmmakers who have been rejected from the current season’s acceptance list, to invite them to resubmit their films the following season with a fee waiver – in an effort to strengthen the relationship between the festival and the filmmakers – whether they screen or not.

RECENT INVOLVEMENT

This year I had the pleasure of advising Philip on programming at MFF on top of his festival’s branding. I introduced a lot of filmmakers to Phil and the festival. Why didn’t Jason interview any of them? Or any of the other filmmakers who were happy with the festival this year?  I would have done an interview. I know lots of happier filmmakers who would have and they’re not too difficult to locate.

THE TRIBECA MONOPOLY

SkyscrapersMonopolies in New York City are nothing new, especially when it comes to the film and television industries. In fact, the Los Angeles film industry wouldn’t exist today if it weren’t for greedy organizations like Edison, who held patents on many of the technologies filmmakers needed to achieve their works.  Filmmakers responded by heading out west, where the long arm of Edison couldn’t as easily reach them.  Without the need for city permits or the worry of wealthy and powerful men like those from the Edison company, film making in California thrived.

Tribeca is a massive organization that dominates many aspects of the film industry in New York and the tri-state area and is growing at an alarming rate.  For an organization that’s only about a decade old, Tribeca is massive and powerful.  This is disconcerting because of their influence in city politics, specifically with the Office of Film, Theater & Broadcasting.  For Tribeca to openly allow one of their staffers to publish defamatory and slanderous content against the smaller indie fests like this, is a slap in the face to the independent film community that I’ve worked so hard to strengthen.  Organizations like Tribeca often overlook films that don’t have celebrities or bigger budgets in the hundreds of thousands.  MFF on the other hand has no bias when it comes to a film’s budget, shooting format or whether or not it can appeal to academia.  If Phil and his programming advisers feel it has any level of value or true indie spirit, it will be seriously considered.  He’s taken films I don’t particular have an interest in, but has also taken films he doesn’t have an interest in, at my suggestion.  He’s advised by many filmmakers and promoters, from all facets of the industry, both indie and mainstream.  As far as programming goes, Philip Nelson is one of the most honest programmers I know.

This isn’t the first time that Tribeca has committed a misdeed toward Phil and MFF.  In 2010 Phil was forced to file a lawsuit against the Tribeca Film Festival for theft of his innovative interactive concepts.  You can read more here: http://www.theguardian.com/film/2010/jul/07/new-york-tribeca-film-festival

Tribeca Cineams vs. The Quad

In his article, Guerrasio insinuates that any festival that uses the Quad Cinemas is likely a scam.  This just isn’t true and is further proof of Guerrasio’s ultimate intention with this article.  It is clear to me that Guerassio, seemingly on behalf of Tribeca, is making a play to destroy the reputation of the Quad and any festival that rents the facility.  This makes sense when you realize that the TFI is affiliated with Tribeca Cinemas, another NYC movie theater.  It too is often rented by smaller film festivals.

Under The Bus

What’s of bigger concern is that the filmmakers Guerrasio interviewed were more than willing to throw the festival under the bus, because they didn’t get their way or were in some way, unhappy with their experience.  They failed to see the bigger picture or have an ounce of respect for the local indie film community, which depends on lower tier festivals, like MFF, to thrive.  I know many of you filmmakers will disregard or elect to not comment on this article because you want to stand a chance at gaining entry as an official selection of the Tribeca Film Festival, but everyone needs to understand why speaking out is more important than yourselves and why this cause is bigger than you.  People like Guerrasio and the other people over at Tribeca cannot be the only ones responsible for your future, you have to take control and not give them the satisfaction of putting this perfectly legitimate film festival out of commission.  They cannot be allowed to become the only people who have the authority to say what is good and what is bad in filmmaking.  They cannot be allowed to become the only people who have the credentials to dictate what is good or bad independent cinema.

MFF is a good festival run by a good person, Philip Nelson, who truly means well.  I’ve known him since the 2012 festival, it’s not long, but long enough for me to know that he’s an individual truly dedicated to independent cinema and the success of filmmakers worldwide.  Tribeca’s goal is growth and sponsorship,  that’s it.  Truly independent cinema doesn’t matter to them, I assure you.  If it did, they wouldn’t make such a blatant effort to destroy the reputation of a person they’ve never met and a festival they’ve never attended.

It is time that filmmakers take control of the indie film world in New York and tell Tribeca to leave the boutique film festivals alone.  This is not the first festival Guerrasio attacked and it won’t be the last.  This article is part of a series he has started in an effort to further rip apart the community of independent filmmakers and the festivals that support them.  In addition, Tribeca needs to pressure its staffers to not post defamatory media about other festivals and organizations, as it reflects badly on the part of Tribeca.  If Tribeca truly wants to contribute to independent film culture in a positive way, they’ll order Guerrasio to issue a retraction and cease with his ridiculous series of articles that explore the “underbelly of the film festival world“.  By publishing these articles, IndieWire has done a lot of damage to the festival and to the filmmakers whom the festival has supported.

Shit Happens – Get Used To It

It seems like some of these filmmakers haven’t been around the festival circuit much and aren’t aware that they need to come prepared and ready for anything.  Filmmakers need to understand that circumstances change and sometimes events don’t go as perfectly as they should. Festivals aren’t locked down. I’ve seen Tribeca change show times, venues and even cut Q&A’s. This is COMMON practice.  I don’t see Guerrasio calling Tribeca out on this.  But I KNOW it happens because I know a lot of filmmakers who have screened at the Tribeca Film Festival. I am friends with filmmakers who have won awards at Sundance and picked up like recognition at Cannes.  These same people have also  screened at MFF and saw what took place there to be common with boutique film festivals.  It is not a scam, it doesn’t make it non-trustworthy, it just is what it is.

The author of the article insists that its not honest to boot a filmmaker from a festival and that a legit festival would never do anything like that. This is complete BS. The author’s own employer, Tribeca, has engaged in similar acts, even going as far as to booting ticket holders from a screening because they were asking difficult questions to the filmmakers.  Check out the details of that situation at the New York Times website: http://artsbeat.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/04/22/tribeca-film-festival-turns-away-protesters-who-had-tickets-to-gasland-sequel/

Other Festivals & Sponsors:

It’s important that I inform all of you that some of the festivals that the filmmakers that Guerrasio interviewed have had major successes at, also have similar complaints. Solvan Naim, the musician that made the movie Full Circle, claims that he’ll only screen at festivals with sponsors.  Solvan Naim did well at this year’s NYCIFF, but if you look them up on RipOff Report, they’ve got a complaint from another filmmaker who had the same problem that Mira had with MFF: he was pissed off that he had been programmed at the Producer’s Club.  In addition, other complaints included screenings being canceled and awards being given to people that had previously been affiliated with the festival’s founder/director.  Mind you, I only found it because I was reading Solvan’s Ripoff Report against MFF. Guess what? NYCIFF has Paramount Pictures on their step & repeat.  Does this make a person’s complaint any less important than those complaing about MFF? Sponsorship mean nothing.  Although I’ve never attended NYCIFF ‘nor have I talked with any filmmaker who has screened there about their experience, I would never assume that the festival or its founding directors had any other intention but good intentions when they decided they wanted to screen films on an annual basis.

The people involved in the defamation of MFF and the other festivals Guerrasio has targed are a vicious circle of filmmakers and film promoters who have nothing but selfish intentions. Or maybe they want to bully Phil into giving up the MFF name.  Who knows.  One thing is for sure, this guy Guerrasio, while heavily credentialed to write about Hollywood, is clearly not qualified to write about independent film and IndieWire is clearly not trustworthy a source of true independent filmmakers.

I urge everyone in the indie film community in New York and abroad to do your research and ask around before submitting your work to any film festivals.  Don’t go on Guerrasio’s article alone – from a filmmaker who has extensive experience with MFF, I can assure all of you that this festival is GOOD and operated by a phenomenal person and his amazing family.

Thanks for the ear,

-Eric Norcross | 2012 MFF Selected Filmmaker turned Volunteer

Mira Gibson tweet during her MFF event.

Mira Gibson tweet during her MFF event.

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