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Posted on September 20, 2011 by dcsblog

by Joe Flood

2011 was the biggest year ever for DC Shorts! There was an almost 40% increase in audience attendance – with an average of 260 people seeing every film. Plus the huge parties (like the Brazilian carnival) and other events throughout the area, from the Penn Quarter to Rosslyn to H St.

While the DC Shorts Film Festival is over, we have activities and events going on all year long. Here’s how you can be involved.

DC Shorts Screenplay Competition Reading - October 15, 2011
Every year, we give out $2000 to the winner of the DC Shorts Screenplay Competition. Come watch five short scripts read aloud by actors and screenwriters – and you get to decide the winner. It’s all part of ScriptDC, a weekend conference devoted to screenwriting.

DC Shorts on Twitter
Follow us on Twitter to learn about “best of” screenings, discounts and more.

DC Shorts on Facebook
We love new friends! Join our group to stay connected with the festival.

DC Shorts on Flickr
See photos from years of parties and premieres.

DC Film Alliance
Inspired to make your own short film? Join the DC Film Alliance to learn more about filmmaking through monthly seminars and other events.

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News Roundup

Posted on September 19, 2011 by dcsblog

by Joe Flood

One final roundup of DC Shorts in the news! Here’s a selection of recent press:

Meet Jon Gann, Creator of the DC Shorts Film Festival
ScoutMob
Jon Gann just wants to make people happy, according to this in-depth interview.

Shorts Circuit
MetroWeekly
Nine LGBT shorts from the pink showcase are reviewed.

DC Shorts Film Festival
Asians on Film
The site identifies the Asian-themed shorts in the festival.

DC Shorts Celebrity Party
CAYPO
This local blogger enjoyed the “well-organized, affordable and memorable event.”

For Film Lover, A Cinematic Achievement
BurkePatch
DC Shorts intern Mercedes Jara is profiled.

Bergensstudenter vant gjev pris i USA 
BergunPuls
A Norwegian-language article about the creators of “Sukkertoppen,” which won the DC Shorts Outstanding Cinematography award.

DC Shorts Does Brazilian on a Budget
K Street Kate
A report from the Brazilian party.

And don’t forget, we have lots of party photos on Flickr. Look for yourself or see what you missed!

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Filmmaker Interview: Ken Ochiai, Director of “Miyuki’s Wind Bell”

Posted on September 17, 2011 by dcsblog

by Zander Sirlin

Ken Ochiai is a Japanese filmmaker who works in both Japan and America. He has made over 30 short films, commercials, and music videos.

Ochiai’s film for DC Shorts, “Miyuki’s Wind Bell” is a winner of DC Shorts 2011 Audience Special Recognition award. The film tells the story of a snooty city girl, Miyuki, who is charged with taking her two young half-brothers to the countryside home of their grandmother. Though this trip is against her will, it proves to be spiritually eye-opening for her.

Is there any real story that inspired the making of the film? Where did you get the idea for it?

I read in a newspaper article that there are over a hundred unexploded bombs still found in Japan every year. I started doing research on the bombs that were dropped by the U.S. Air Force during World War II. I found it very interesting that the U.S. Air Force dropped a warning bomb that contained millions of sheets of paper to warn innocent people around the targeted area.

How would you describe your background in film? What education or experience do you have in filmmaking?

I was born and raised in Japan. I left my hometown, Tokyo, to pursue my dream of becoming a filmmaker when I was 19. I graduated from USC Cinema School and the AFI’s Master Directing Program. I have made over 30 short films, music videos and commercials since I was 12 years old.

What advice do you have for students interested in film school?

After having spent rough and lean years, a lot of my classmates gave up on their dreams and only a few stayed in this business. I have watched my friends succeed and fail, and how they dealt with that. In that sense, they are friends, rivals, and more than anything, teachers to me. It is only because we help and support each other that I was able to come this far.

How would you describe the film “scene” where you work?

I work in both LA and Tokyo. It is madness in LA and it is tough in Tokyo.

How has being from Japan impacted your film or filmmaking?

As I’m able to take advantage of being fluent in English and having a high education from the U.S, I get many work offers in Tokyo, and because of my cultural background, I can make movies from a unique perspective.

Who or what do you cite as major inspirations for your work? 

Life and master artists in any field are my inspirations. As some wise man said, “Always strive to be original and steal from the best.”

How would you describe your filmmaking process?

To me, filmmaking is like breathing. You breathe ideas in and breathe movies out. You never get tired of breathing, and you need it to live.

What technology/programs did you use to create the film?

I’m very keen on the newest film technology and software. For software, I recommend going to lynda.com as it is the best website to learn software.

What was your film’s budget? How was it financed?

The film budget was over $75,000 and it was financed by Toyota.

Did you make the film for anyone in particular? What audience did you have in mind?

I made it for the young, hoping that this film would inspire them to further learn about war and that the peace we have now is due to the sacrifice of our ancestors.

Do you have any advice for aspiring filmmakers?

Stay healthy and save money for after school, or the real life after school, will hit you hard.

Where can readers view your work and learn more about you?

At www.kenochiai.com, thank you so much!

“Miyuki’s Wind Bell” is playing in the Best of DC Shorts – Show A.

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Filmmaker Interview: Cássio Pereira dos Santos, director of “The Scarecrow Girl” and “Blue Night Club”

Posted on September 16, 2011 by dcsblog

by Zander Sirlin

Cássio Pereira dos Santos is the subject of the latest filmmaker interview piece for this blog. Representing DC Shorts’ partnership with the Embassy of Brazil this year, this filmmaker has not one, but two films from Brazil running in the festival.

His first film playing at DC Shorts, “A Menina Espantalho” (The Scarecrow Girl), is the uplifting fictional account of the daughter of a farmer who, despite being denied the opportunity to go to school with her brother, learns how to read in her own way. This film won a DC Shorts 2011 Audience Favorite Award.

His second film of the festival, “Blue Night Club” is another heartwarming portrait of Brazilian life, though this time around we get a non-fiction documentary. The film follows an engaged couple who make a living working in the coffee plantations near their town.

What first got you interested in film?

When I was a kid I lived in a very small town in the countryside of Brazil (Cruzeiro da Fortaleza, Minas Gerais). There were no movie theatres in this town, so I spent my childhood watching TV animations and Brazilian soap-operas. The first time I saw a movie in a theather I was 10 years old. It was a big venue, with a huge screen (Cine Riviera, in Patos de Minas). It was a screening of Honey, I Shrunk the Kids. That first big screen experience impressed me a lot. And little by little I became a cinefile and realized that making films could become an occupation.

Is there any real stories or people behind the making of your films?

For “The Scarecrow Girl”: Yes, the film is based on a real story that my grandmother told me. When she was a child, she lived in a farm where her father occasionally planted rice for the family. Once the birds started eating the rice the kids were in charge of scaring them. Then the Brazilian Ministry of Culture released a script competition where the main characters had to be kids. I decided to write this little story and luckily my project was one of the winners and I got the money to produce it.

For “Blue Night Club”: After leaving Brasília for 10 years,  I decided to return to my hometown, in the state of Minas Gerais. Here, a large amount of people are rural workers and many of them make a living in the coffee harvest. Every early morning they leave the town in a bus, spend the whole day working in the plantations, then they come back to town before sundown. After making some drama short films, I decided to make a documentary on this subject, so I followed the life of a young couple of rural workers during several days. “Blue Night Club” is the result of this attempt.

How would you describe your background in film? What education or experience do you have in filmmaking?

I studied at the film department of the University of Brasília, where I made some fiction and documentary exercises. After leaving film school, I worked as assistant director in some projects and started directing my own shorts.

How would you describe the film scene of Brazil?

I will speak only about the short film scene, as I have not made features yet. Here in Brazil we have two main ways of producing short films. We can try to get money from government companies (or government funds that support culture) and also, like elsewhere in the world, another possibility is producing no-budget films. “The Scarecrow Girl” got funding from the Ministry of Culture and TV Brasil. On the other hand, “Blue Night Club” is a no-budget film. Some years ago, if you didn´t have a celluloid print of your short, you could not screen at prestigious film festivals, such as the Brasília Festival of Brazilian Cinema. Therefore, you had to be rich or be supported by the government to finish your movie in 35mm. The Ministry of Culture Fund for short films, for instance, selects only 20 projects among 700 participants, more or less. We have other local funds, but the truth is that there are hundreds of Brazilian filmmakers and competition is getting tougher year after year.

At the same time, technology is improving the image quality of video cameras and therefore we can access professional equipment at a low cost. As a result, a main film event (like the Brasília Film Festival) that once used to receive 100 submissions of (35mm) short films, now receives more than 500 submissions of Brazilian short movies (video and celluloid). The problem is that these “mainstream” festivals select only 12 shorts to compete (the politics of exclusion). Luckily we have more generous events, like the Tiradentes Film Festival, that screens more than 100 Brazilian shorts every year.

How has being from Brazil or Minas Gerais impacted your film or filmmaking?

My film education and professional iniciation took place in Brasília, but my cultural roots are in the state of Minas Gerais. This is the place that mostly inspires my work. I shot my last three movies in my small hometown and now I am preparing another project that takes place in Minas as well. Maybe it’s because I am emotional linked to the landscape and to the characters I try to portray, or simply because I love the accent from the Brazilian hinterlands. It’s a culturally rich universe: the language, the traditional tales, the songs, the food. Brasília also attracts me a lot. Some people say it’s a (emotionally) cold city, but only after living there you realize it’s not. The mixture of regional cultures makes Brasília such a fascinating place. There is no doubt that Minas and Brasília impacted my filmmaking.

Who or what do you cite as major inspirations for your work? This does not necessarily have to be from cinema.

I am not really sure if his work impacted my films (maybe not), but if you ask me to name some film directors, the first one that comes to my mind is Antonioni. For me he’s the greatest visionary.

How would you describe your filmmaking process?

I don’t have the same approach for every movie. In my first short film, I spent one year only working on the script. Writing, rewriting, rewriting… In my last short, I spent one month on the entire project (from having the idea to the first cut).

What technology/programs did you use to make your film?

To shoot “The Scarecrow Girl”  we used an HVX200 with film camera lenses. Then this film won the audience award in the Tokyo Short Shorts Film Festival and the Japanese gave me a Canon 5D camera! So I shot “Blue Night Club” with this 5D.

What was your film’s budget? How was it financed?

“The Scarecrow Girl” budget was about US $30,000 (money from Ministry of Culture and TV Brasil). And I spent around 500 dollars to make “Blue Night Club”.

Did you make the film for anyone in particular? What audience did you have in mind?

I made “The Scarecrow Girl” for children, because it won a script competition in which the final product had to reach a younger audience. However, during the filmmaking process, I tried to make sure that the story would also seduce adults as well. In “Blue Night Club” I didn´t have an specific audience in mind. I just let it flow.

Do you have any advice for aspiring filmmakers? Anything for people from your area?

With a nice budget or without money, make as many movies as you can. I believe we have to be practicing all the time. That´s the best way to improve our work.

Where can readers view your work and learn more about you?

Here: http://vimeo.com/user1497810

See “The Scarecrow Girl” in the Best of DC Shorts – Show A.

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Grab Sexy, Pink Shorts This Friday

Posted on September 14, 2011 by dcsblog

Think the DC Shorts Film Festival is over? Think again. We have a few more days left in this celebration of short film. We’re wrapping up with special screenings and a Closing Bash this weekend at the Atlas Performing Arts Center on H Street.

This Friday night, come see our shorts! We have two great programs scheduled:

Pink Shorts – 7 PM, September 16, Atlas Performing Arts Center
This gay-themed program features eight great short films, ranging from blind dates to gender transitions.

Sexy Shorts – 9 PM, September 16, Atlas Performing Arts Center
From sex over seventy to alien abduction, things get interesting in this program of shorts.

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Winners of the DC Shorts Film Festival 2011

Posted on September 12, 2011 by dcsblog

 

awards

by Joe Flood

Filmmakers enjoyed a bacon-filled brunch at Clyde’s of Gallery Place on September 11 as the outstanding films of the DC Shorts Film Festival were unveiled. Here are the winners:

Audience Favorites

Audience Special Recognition

Outstanding Local Film (presented by KvM Rentals)

Outstanding Cinematography (presented by FujiFilm)

Outstanding Use of Food (presented by Whole Foods)

Outstanding 1st Time Director

Festival Director’s Choice

Filmmaker’s Choice

You can still see all the great films of the festival as DC Shorts runs until September 18. Check the schedule for screening times, including FREE lunch shows and special pink and sexy shorts programs. And don’t miss the Closing Bash on Saturday, September 17 at the Atlas Performing Arts Center.

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Party Pictures Now Online!

Posted on September 11, 2011 by dcsblog

Dancer at the DC Shorts Brazilian Carnival party.

by Joe Flood

Thanks to the hard work of our volunteer photographers, the memories of DC Shorts will last forever! Find out if they captured you dancing to a samba beat at our Brazilian Carnival or posing with a wax star at the Celebrity Party. Plus, check out photos from the showcases, lectures and other events. You can find the photos here:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/dcshorts/

You’re free to use them on Facebook or elsewhere. Just be sure to credit the photographer if they’re listed. And tell your friends about DC Shorts!

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The Angry Filmmaker Reveals the Secrets of Low-Budget Filmmaking

Posted on September 10, 2011 by dcsblog

Kelley Baker

by Joe Flood

Kelley Baker is the author of The Angry Filmmaker Survival Guide: Making the Extreme No Budget Film. He’s a punk rocker in an age of corporate filmmaking with an important message for anyone who wants to see their vision on screen:

You can do it. And it will be cheaper than you think.

He shared his secrets to no-budget filmmaking to a rapt audience of directors and aspiring filmmakers on September 9, part of a free series of DC Shorts seminars.

  • Don’t use credit cards! Beg, borrow, ask for free stuff – do everything you can without using plastic.
  • Short films teach craft. Want to be a better filmmaker? Every short film is a lesson in craft, where you learn how to light, direct, shoot, work with actors and problem-solve.
  • Short films are supposed to be short. He’s shot eight short films, all but one of which were shot in just one day.
  • Finish what you start. You have an obligation to your cast, crew and supporters – get it done.
  • You can’t get unless you ask. Baker called schools around Portland before he found one that would let him film there for free.
  • Write for cheapness: one location. Have a friend that owns a bar? Set your film there.
  • “If we were businesspeople we wouldn’t be filmmakers.” Dealing with money issues and insurance is difficult but it can save you your shirt.
  • Crowdfunding requires a lot of care and feeding. IndieGogo and Kickstarter are excellent tools for fundraising but they’re online communities that require nurturing.
  • Rehearse for weeks before shooting. He wants to be 100% prepared for shooting, so he works with his actors for weeks beforehand.
  • Film in January. Not much is happening then, and you can get bored crew for your movie. He works around the schedules of people he wants to work with.
  • Don’t buy a camera, borrow one. That fancy camera is going to be outdated next year.
  • Don’t be a jerk. The role of the director is to work (nicely) with the actors, not yell at people or micromanage.

Baker will be touring the country with a longer presentation on no-budget filmmaking. Visit his web site to learn more.



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The People of DC Shorts: Gene Cowan

Posted on September 10, 2011 by dcsblog

Gene Cowan

Gene Cowan has been called Ethel to Jon Gann’s Lucy. As the silent co-creator of DC Shorts, he’s the behind-the-scenes partner responsible for the creative and technical details of the show, from the films to the title graphics. He created the automated projection system that runs unattended, making it possible to produce an 11-day festival in four different venues.

While he was born and bred in DC, Gene now lives in Silicon Valley. And if there’s one thing that he and Jon agree on is that they work better with a whole country between them.

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DC Shorts Kicks Off to Full House

Posted on September 9, 2011 by dcsblog

by Joe Flood

Torrents of rain, a Presidential address, the start of the NFL season – in spite of these competing events, DC Shorts still managed to pack the house for the opening night of the festival on September 8. Soggy film lovers took every available seat for Showcase One, as they enjoyed shorts from Brazil, Neil Labute and Washington-area filmmakers.

At the end of this diverse program of films, local critic Arch Campbell moderated a question and answer session with directors who were in attendance. He seemed particularly taken with the local short, The Man in 813. Arlin Godwin, director of the film, revealed that the whole piece was shot in his apartment near Dupont Circle. Paul Thomas Anderson and his film Magnolia was a big influence. (See our interview with Godwin to learn more about the making of this film.)

Frienemies by Anthony Brenneman is another one of the local films in the festival. Campbell observed that this high school story is something that everyone could relate to.

The Scarecrow Girl is such a moving tale that even the “angry filmmaker” (and DC Shorts guest speaker) Kelley Baker was in tears. According to director Cássio Pereira dos Santos, the film was inspired by his grandmother’s life as a child in rural Brazil.

Finally, you would never think that a comedy could be made about immigration. Or that it could take place in the trunk of a car. Evan Buxbaum has made such a movie with La Linea. He’s turning this short into a feature film.

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Filmmaker Interview: Alexandre Camargo, Writer/Co-Producer/Co-Director of “The Angels in the Middle of the Square”

Posted on September 9, 2011 by dcsblog

by Zander Sirlin

For this interview, I spoke with Alexandre Camargo concerning his animated film, “Os Anos Do Meio Da Praça”, which translates to “The Angels in the Middle of the Square.”

Camargo’s film, a representative of DC Shorts’ partnership with the Embassy of Brazil, is an animated fable about angels who have fallen to Earth only to be caged up in the middle of a town square and fed people’s forgotten dreams. The film uses a fantastical art style to tell the kind of imaginative story that only animation can tell.

“Os Anos Do Meio Da Praça” has been playing at many festivals including the Brazilian Film Festival of Toronto, where it was awarded Best Director and Best Picture, and the Grand Prix Brazilian Cinema, where it was a finalist for Best Short Animation.

What first got you interested in film?

Since I was very young, I always have been fascinated with storytelling. Also, all my first memories are probably from films and animations – small fragments, one or another piece of a dream, here and there. I still remember the nightmares I had with that Koko the Clown character from the old Betty Boop films!

Is there any real story or event that inspired the making of your film? Where did the idea for the film come from?

The original story of “Anjos” came to me in a dream. I awakened in early dawn – a little scared, maybe – with this strange tale in my mind, about fallen angels in a small village. I wrote it down, and never really forgot about it. Years later me and my wife Camila (also my co-producer and director) used that as a starting point for our film screenplay.

How would you describe your background in film? What education or experience do you have in filmmaking?

I’m self taught – all that I know I’ve learned at the trenches, so to speak – making animated films for advertising, short films and the like.

How would you describe the film “scene” in Brazil?

There are a lot of new short films being produced , as well as animated series for TV, and feature films. There are lots of obstacles, of course, but I believe we are just entering a great time in animation here in Brazil.

What technology/programs did you use to create the film?

We used Autodesk Maya for the 3d animation, and Apple Shake and FinalCut for the compositing and post-production.

Where can readers view your work and learn more about you?

We have a website: www.bubafilmes.com.

“Os Anjos do Meio da Praça” is playing with seven other great short films in DC Shorts Showcase #3.

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News Roundup

Posted on September 9, 2011 by dcsblog

by Joe Flood

DC Shorts is underway! The festival has received lots of coverage in the past week, including mentions in Brightest Young Things, Washingtonian, DCist, the Washington City Paper, We Love DC, The Washington Post, Jaunted, Roll Call, GW Hatchet, The Washington Flyer and elsewhere.

Here are a selection of interesting takes on the festival.

DC Shorts Film Festival Kicks Off
The Washington Post
The most compelling films of the festival, according to Stephanie Merry.

The Film Festival Survival Kit
Heart Says It All
What a filmmaker carries to promote his film.

Short Stories: The DC Shorts Film Festival
The Washingtonian
Ian Buckwalter’s picks for what to see at the recently expanded festival.

DC Shorts Starts Today
The Washington City Paper 
They vow to review every film in the festival.

An Inside Look at the DC Shorts Film Festival
The Michael Eric Dyson Show
Listen to an interview with Jon Gann, founder of DC Shorts.

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You Deserve a Party

Posted on September 8, 2011 by dcsblog

Madame Tussaud's

by Joe Flood

The past couple of weeks have seen both an earthquake and a hurricane bedeviling the East Coast. We’ve become experts at hoarding food and literally battening down the hatches against the caprices of Mother Nature. Adding to this parade of misery have been days of drizzly rain that have blanketed the region, forcing people to break out their unattractive wet-weather gear.

DC Shorts is coming to the rescue with three great parties to lift your watery blues!

All parties include light refreshments and an open bar. All attendees must be over 21 years of age and present photo id at the door. Tickets must be purchased in advance.

online: $25 + $2 service charge
in combination with any film ticket: $20 + $2 service charge

Celebrity Party
Friday, September 9, 9:00pm–midnight
Madame Tussaud’s, 1001 F Street NW (Metro Center)

Celebrate the Opening Weekend among the stars!  Pose with your favorite (wax) celebrities and meet DC Shorts filmmakers from around the world. Admission price includes open bar provided by Stella Artois, 42 Below Vodka and Barefoot Wines, and delicious nibbles prepared by Matchbox and Cowgirl Creamery. The Washington City Paper is our event partner.

Brazilian Carnival
Saturday, September 10, 9:00pm–1:00am
ARTISPHERE, 1101 Wilson Boulevard (Rosslyn Metro)

Can’t afford to go to Carnival? Neither can we. Which is why we are recreating a Brazilian tradition at the area’s premiere arts space. Dance the night away with Alma Tropicalia (DC’s tribute to Brazil’s psychedelic pop movement from the 1960?s), the rocking all-female drum group Batala, DC’s own Carnival Queen Zezeh Zax (did you know DC had a Carnival Queen?), live Brazilian jazz with Elin, and more!  Admission price includes open bar provided by Malibu Rum and Barefoot Wines, and Brazilian delicacies prepared by Whole Foods. Brightest Young Things is our event partner.

Closing Bash
Saturday, September 17, 9:00pm–midnight
Atlas Performing Arts Center, 1333 H Street NE (Atlas Arts District)

H Street is the perfect place to wrap up DC Shorts. Enjoy live music and an open bar as we put an exclamation point on the festival. Admission price includes open bar provided by Stella Artois, 42 Below Vodka and Barefoot Wines. The Pink Line Project is our event partner.

 

 

 

 

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The People of DC Shorts: Merin Guthrie

Posted on September 8, 2011 by dcsblog

Merin Guthrie came to DC Shorts through her love of Pilot, the best dog in the world, and his owner Jon, guru of all things short film. After working on the floor below Jon and Pilot for four years, she made the leap and now helps DC Shorts bring together local restaurants and bars to support the festival.

She also co-moderates Birds of a Pleather, is a freelance stylist, provides fundraising and organizational development guidance to small nonprofits, and was fashion editor of the late, great Worn Magazine. In her free time, she tries to sleep and eat, and other things that normal people are supposed to do.

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DC SHORTS SHOWCASE 5: LEGOS, LOVE AND LIFE

Posted on September 7, 2011 by dcsblog

by Zander Sirlin

The fifth DC Shorts showcase ranges in tone from the lighthearted to the serious, but similar reflections on love and life underlie most of the selections. The showcase features films from Ireland, the UK, Bolivia, Australia, and another representative of DC Shorts’ partnering with the Embassy of Brazil.

“Cured”, directed by Mary Redmond, is a 12-minute film from Ireland. The film is the pleasantly told story of Maggie, a butcher suffering from obsessive-compulsive disorder who finds love with an obsessive-compulsive man. “Cured” also played at the Ashland Independent Film Festival and the Galway Film Fleadh, where it received a Special Mention for the International Federation of Film Societies Don Quijote Award.

“Gentle Cycle Only” is a thoughtful drama directed by Ela Thier. The film is about an elderly widower on a small quest to discover the secret of how to wash his favorite sweater. Though concerned with laundry, the film is a nice meditation on love and life. Thier won Brightest Emerging Director at The View From Here: A Festival of Short Films for “Gentle Cycle Only”.

“Three Actresses Walk Into a Bathroom…” is a 10-minute comedy directed by Jade Justad. The film is a humorous look at the rivalry between three actresses auditioning for the part of “Junkie Whore with a Heart of Gold #2”, a one line role. “Three Actresses Walk Into a Bathroom…” was an official selection at a number of other festivals including the Woodshole Film Festival and the UnderDogs FilmFest, where it won Best Comedy.

“Humane Resources”, directed by Jessica Townsend, is a very short comedy from the UK. The film is a funny story about an improbable interview in a city office building. “Humane Resources” was also selected to play at the L.A. Comedy Shorts Film Festival.

“Salar” (Salar), directed by Nicholas Greene, is a 20-minute drama from Bolivia. The film is a true to life tale set in an isolated Bolivian village on the edge of vast salt flats, where the lives of a disgruntled American doctor and a Bolivian salt miner who has been stabbed in the hand collide. “Salar” played in the international competition at the Clermont-Ferrand Film Festival and in the Palm Springs International Int’l ShortFest among other festivals.

“Virus”, directed by Fred Mangan, is an animated short from Australia. Awesomly animated with Lego, this sci-fi film tells the story of a computer virus who discovers love while on a routine mission. “Virus” was selected to play at a number of other festivals including the London Sci-Fi Festival and the Short Sharp Film Festival.

“First Dates” is a clever comedy directed by Sam Wasserman. The film humorously follows a series of first dates, each involving a discussion of the previous failed first date. “First Dates” was official selection at the Newport Beach Film Festival and it won at the 32nd College Television Awards.

“Blue Night Club”, directed by Cássio Pereira dos Santos, is a 14 minute documentary from Brazil. Another heartwarming portrait of Brazilian life from the same director of “A Menina Espantalho” (The Scarecrow Girl), the film is concerned with an engaged couple who make a living working in the coffee plantations near their town. “Blue Night Club” also played at the London International Documentary Festival.

You can catch these eight shorts at the DC Shorts Showcase #5 on Friday, September 9 at 7:00 PM at E Street Cinema, on Sunday, September 11 at 3:00 PM at Artisphere, or on Thursday, September 15 at 5:00 PM at E Street Cinema.

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Free Filmmaking Seminars at E Street Cinema on September 9

Posted on September 6, 2011 by dcsblog

by Joe Flood

Filmmaking is for everyone. If you have an iPhone in your pocket, then you have the ability to make a movie. The DC Shorts Film Festival highlights the opportunities available for DIY filmmaking. For example, the “The Man in 813” was shot using a Canon T2i, a sub-$1000 digital camera. Another local film, “The Man with a Bolex Movie Camera” cost just $500 to make.

But just because you have the technical ability to make a movie, doesn’t mean that it’s going to be any good. You still need to learn the language of film.

Fortunately, DC Shorts is offering free seminars for filmmakers on September 9. Reserve your spot to learn about software tools, sound design, budgeting issues and more, including talks by award-winning director Kelley Baker and DC Shorts Founder Jon Gann.

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The People of DC Shorts: Mercedes Jara

Posted on September 6, 2011 by dcsblog

 

Mercedes Jara, a native of Burke, Virginia, is a senior at Marymount University, majoring in visual communication and minoring in graphic design. She is strongly interested in all forms of visual communications and is a staff writer for her school newspaper. After graduating she would like to spend time in South America traveling and filming the experience. Ideally she would like to do media arts whilst traveling professionally. Being of Peruvian descent, she is excited that DC Shorts will be showcasing two Peruvian films (“¡Una Carrerita, Doctor!” and “Último Recurso”).

As a fan of independent film and international cinema, Mercedes has always been fascinated by the process of putting together a film festival, yet she never imagined that she would be involved in that process and is thankful for the opportunity. She has especially enjoyed looking at films and screenplays by up-and-coming filmmakers, and helping to review some of the films.

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Arch Campbell to Moderate Showcase 1 Q&A

Posted on September 5, 2011 by dcsblog

Arch CampbellIf you watch TV in Washington, then you know Arch Campbell. He’s a local institution who has been on the air for more than three decades. Known for his infectious laugh and sense of humor, he joined WJLA-TV/ABC7 and NewsChannel 8 in  2007. He began his television career in 1974, joining WRC TV News as a feature reporter. He went on to create that station’s entertainment beat, hosting twice daily segments on WRC’s local news.

Campbell has won eight EMMY awards for his celebrity interviews and comedy specials. Readers of Washingtonian magazine have voted him “Best Local Movie Reviewer” and “Best Feature Reporter.”

Campbell will be moderating the question and answer session with filmmakers after Showcase 1 on September 8, 7 PM, at the E Street Cinema.

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The People of DC Shorts: Joe Flood

Posted on September 4, 2011 by dcsblog

Joe Flood

Joe Flood is the Blogger-in-Chief for the festival. He’s been involved with DC Shorts almost since the beginning and has been a film judge, screenplay judge, volunteer wrangler, catalog distributor, event photographer, swag bag hander-outer and even managed a live screenplay reading one year.

He enjoys the festival because he’s a creative person himself, being the author of a novel, Murder in Ocean Hall, and a screenplay, Mount Pleasant, that won the Film DC Screenplay Competition. Visit his site at joeflood.com to learn more.

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FILMMAKER INTERVIEW: ALAN KING, PRODUCER/WRITER/ACTOR OF “THE WINKING BOY”

Posted on September 3, 2011 by dcsblog

by Zander Sirlin

I had the opportunity to interview Australian filmmaker Alan King to discuss “The Winking Boy”, which he wrote, produced, and performed in.

A darkly hilarious exploration into what one person could potentially pull off if they took advantage of society to act however they pleased, “The Winking Boy” tells the story of a normal man, Martin, who enjoys a pampered lifestyle through deceit. He lives at a special clinical center by fooling everyone into thinking that he is so paralyzed that he can only communicate by winking. When a new nurse starts working at the center, Martin begins using his position to perpetrate acts that ruin the reputation of another nurse (played by King).

“The Winking Boy” has been selected to play at a number of film festivals including the American Independent Film Festival and Cannes Film Festival as part of its Short Film Corner. The film has also won a number of awards including the Golden Ace Award at the Las Vegas International Film Festival and the Van Gogh award for Best Comedy at the Amsterdam Film Festival.

What first got you interested in film?

I’ve always loved watching film. I loved the escapism of film. So I would say it’s been in my blood ever since I can remember. To be able to be a part of making film is a dream come true.

Is there a real story behind the making of your film? Where did the idea for it come from?

I was watching a current affairs show on TV and they had a story where they set up a hidden camera to bust people who were falsely claiming workers compensation by feigning debilitating chronic injuries. They busted these people doing strenuous physical activities. So it got me thinking how far could one person take this dishonest behavior.

How would you describe your background in film? What education or experience do you have in filmmaking?

I have worked as a professional actor in Australia for 20 years in film, television, stage and in voice overs. This is my first film as a screenwriter and producer. I studied at the Victorian College of the Arts in Melbourne.

What advice do you have for students interested in attending the same school?

To maintain a healthy respect for your own instincts and judgment whilst also allowing yourself the space to take risks.

How would you describe the filmmaking scene in Australia?

Our industry here is smaller than the USA or Europe but Aussie filmmakers still manage to make top quality product in this country. Where there is a will there is a way.

How has being from Australia impacted your film or filmmaking?

Being so far away makes it hard to attend as many festivals as I would like. It does mean when I do get to an overseas festival I revel in making the most of every minute by seeing as many films as I can and meeting as many people as possible.

Who or what do you cite as major inspirations for your work? This does not necessarily have to be from cinema.

All the film legends. I love Scorseese, Hitchcock, Coppola, Tarrantino. I love Sean Penn’s work and thank God for all the low budget independents that are capable of carrying real heart and soul. There have been some great Aussie films over the years that inspired me. I just saw a digitally remastered version of the just awesome 70s Australian film Wake in Fright!  I would have to say my biggest inspiration in film is Stanley Kubrick. He turned filmmaking on its head. The way he manipulates story, cinematography, score and performance is brilliant. He threw the rule book out the window. His films were pieces of fine art.

How would you describe your filmmaking process?

I think of a story that I would like to tell and start writing. Everything depends on a good story.

What technology/programs did you use to create the film?

The film was shot on the RED camera and was cut using Final Cut Pro.

What was your film’s budget? How was it financed?

The total spend to date would be up around the $30,000 dollar mark. It was fully self-funded by Marcus Dineen (the director) and myself.

Did you make the film for anyone in particular? What audience did you have in mind?

To be honest when I wrote it and when we shot it I didn’t have a particular demographic in mind. However I do remember thinking during the shoot, “Shit, I hope people find this funny”.

Do you have any advice for aspiring filmmakers? Anything for people from your area?

Never give up, keep creating and your voice will find it’s way out there in some way.

Where can readers view your work and learn more about you?

Please log onto “The Winking Boy” page on Facebook.

“The Winking Boy” is playing with seven other great short films in DC Shorts Showcase #2.

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DC Shorts News Roundup

Posted on September 2, 2011 by dcsblog

by Joe Flood

With the start of the festival less than a week away, lots of stories about DC Shorts!

Ten Films to See at DC Shorts
WTOP
Lots of good suggestions, including video previews.

DC Shorts: Short on Time, Long on Talent
OnTap
Very comprehensive review of films in the festival.

DC Shorts Film Festival
The Washington City Paper
The Internet has made shorts relevant again.

Local Films Shine in DC Shorts
The Pink Line Project
Focusing on filmmakers from the Washington region.

Popcorn & Candy
DCist
DC Shorts and lots of other film suggestions for the upcoming week.

Hump Day Edition
Borderstan
It’s time to change your perspective about filmmaking in DC.

DC Shorts Film Festival
CultureMob
They’ll make you laugh, they’ll make you cry.

DC Shorts Film Festival
Brightest Young Things
The fun doesn’t end with the films.

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The People of DC Shorts: Jennifer Cecconi

Posted on September 1, 2011 by dcsblog

 

Jennifer Cecconi is the Partnership Coordinator for DC Shorts and comes to us all the way from Calgary, Alberta Canada. She worked there for five years at the Calgary International Film Festival (CIFF). Initially she was the Lead Programmer for Short Films but also programmed American feature and family films. She has held a number of other positions at CIFF including Print Traffic Manager and most recently as Foundations and Grants Associate.

Jennifer’s experience includes writing (marketing, political, and grant writing), as a Production Coordinator for short films and award-winning PSAs, and through her background in Education (Masters of Education in Curriculum Studies), she has published media literacy teacher resources for films and film festivals including one for Toronto International Film Festival’s Reel Learning website. Jennifer is glad that life (her husband’s job) decided to toss her and her family across the border to America’s capital and that her addiction to short films has brought her to the DC Shorts Film Festival!

 

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FILMMAKER INTERVIEW: ARLIN GODWIN, DIRECTOR OF “THE MAN IN 813″

Posted on August 31, 2011 by dcsblog

by Zander Sirlin

I had the opportunity to interview another local filmmaker, Arlin Godwin. In addition to making short films, Godwin has long worked in television and is an electronic music artist with four albums and three EPs under his belt.

Both intriguing and original, Godwin’s “The Man in 813” details the mundane, weird, unexplainable, and sometimes disturbing things occurring in one apartment building over the course of a 24-hour period.

What first got you interested in film?

My grandfather gave me a still camera when I was around ten years old. I learned how to shoot, develop and print pictures. Around age 12, I was given a little 8mm motion picture camera and from then on it was a major obsession of mine.

Is there any real story that inspired the making of the film?

My film is about the weird things that might be going on in the various units of an apartment building and I suppose it was inspired by the fact that I live in one. I hear things sometimes through the walls and it kind of gets your mind wondering.

How would you describe your background in film?

I did a little time in film school but my real education comes from having watched thousands of films, some of them 30 or 40 times. I think I’ve seen David Fincher’s “Fight Club” and “Seven” and even “The Social Network” each more than 50 times. Probably have watched Kubrick’s “2001″ over a hundred times in my life. Some films don’t get old. They just keep teaching you things. With DVDs and Blu-ray you can rent your own “film school” from Netflix. No excuse these days not to see everything.

What advice do you have for students interested in film?

Honestly my advice is, “Don’t bother with film school.” Get a camera. Shoot movies. Read every book you can find. Learn how to write. Learn to think in terms of stories first and then get into the technical things. Don’t get the cameras and lights in the way of learning about characters and what actors do. Understand drama, pacing, thee or four-act structure. Get Final Cut or some other editing program on your computer and start learning how to edit. In other words there is no substitute for doing it all yourself. That experience is beyond anything you’ll get at any film school because it’s your own personal trip.

How would you describe the DC film scene?

DC seems to have a fairly active film scene. Certainly the DC Shorts Film Festival is a pretty big deal with filmmakers coming in from all over the world. I hope to meet a lot of the local film people and look forward to seeing the movies of course.

What place has most impacted your film or style of filmmaking?

I was born and raised in Florida but I’ve lived in Washington for decades so DC is really more an influence than any other place.

Who or what do you cite as major inspirations for your work? This does not necessarily have to be from cinema.

My biggest influences would be writers of great books, great stories—like Dickens and also a number of filmmakers…people whose work I admire like Paul Thomas Anderson, David Fincher, Sidney Lumet and the one and only Stanley Kubrick.

How would you describe your filmmaking process?

I kind of work like a person who makes a sculpture out of clay in that I’ll write, then shoot what I’ve written, cut that and see what’s missing or what could be developed more and then go back and do pick-ups and keep tweaking and fixing things until I’m satisfied. The new film I’m working on now was started without a finished script–just because when you’re doing it yourself you can afford the time. But I won’t do that again. There’s no substitute for a completed and thorough script that really shows you where you’re going. Young filmmakers need to learn to be writers first—then get out the camera. If you can’t write then find someone who can. Without a story there’s no need to shoot anything.

What technology/programs did you use to make your film?

I shot on a Canon T2i HDSLR, edited on Apple’s Final Cut Pro Studio. Used Cineform for transcoding camera files to ProRes 4:2:2. Used the newly released Technicolor software in the camera to add a few stops of latitude to the dynamic range. Everything you need to make a feature film is available now from your local Best Buy. Seriously.

What was your film’s budget? How was it financed?

What budget? The only real budget would have been the cost of the camera and editing software. Basically for several thousand dollars you can create your own film studio at home and make movies whenever you want.

Did you make the film for anyone in particular? What audience did you have in mind?

I literally made “The Man in 813” as a practice exercise never ever imagining I would end up in a festival. The film has now been officially selected by two festivals which is beyond anything I was thinking about during the production.

Do you have any other advice for aspiring filmmakers? Anything for people from the area?

Read everything you can about film. Watch movies constantly and don’t just watch—take notes. Think about what you’re looking at. Also don’t neglect the sound. I actually think sound is more important to the success of a film than images. Great sound is important and bad sound will ruin all your pretty pictures.

Where can readers view your work and learn more about you?

My official web site is at www.arlingodwin.com.

“The Man in 813” is playing with eight other great short films in DC Shorts Showcase #1.

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DC SHORTS SHOWCASE 4: DEATH AND DESIRE

Posted on August 30, 2011 by dcsblog

by Zander Sirlin

Featuring films that range from tragedy and harsh realism to emotionally lighter fare, the DC Shorts Showcase 4 varies quite a bit in tone. While most of the films are American, this screening includes a film from Indonesia and one more representative of DC Shorts’ partnership with the Embassy of Brazil.

“Purple Heart’s Final Beat” is a six-minute drama directed by Blake O. Kleiner. Opening the showcase seriously, the film follows a soldier who, via a first-person voiceover, describes how his life is in ruins since coming back home. “Purple Heart’s Final Beat” was also official selection at the Blue Water Film Festival and the Detroit International Film Festival, and it won Best Short Film of the Year and Best Editing for the Mitten Movie Project 2010 in Royal Oak, Michigan.

“Gilded Age Gladiator”
is an interesting documentary directed by Brad Lambert and Rob Benica. The film uses animation to recount the interesting career of John L. Sullivan, a 19th century boxer who rose from being a barroom brawler to one of America’s first sports celebrities. “Gilded Age Gladiator” was also selected to play at the Dragon*Con Independent Film Festival.

“The Silver Baron” is a short comedy directed by David Beier. A light-hearted piece of entertainment, the film is about an elderly man whose frequent attempts to ride down a mountain in his wheelchair are continuously thwarted by his wife.

“Wanting Alex” is a 20-minute comedy directed by Chris Akers. The film follows Pete, a young man who is in love with Alex, a girl who remains out of Pete’s reach as long as she’s dating his closeted homosexual roommate. The film’s use of comical flashbacks and first person commentary effectively serve the telling of a story about love and desire. “Wanting Alex” was selected to play at a number of other festivals as well including the HollyShorts Film Festival and the LA Comedy Festival, where it won Best of the Fest.

“O Plantador De Quiabos”
(The Okra Planter) is a film from Brazil directed by the Santa Madeira Collective, a Brazilian audiovisual production team. A short window into the lives of a rural Brazilian family, the film tells the story of a farmer who travels into the city with his family in order to buy a bicycle for carrying boxes of okra. “O Plantador De Quiabos” has run in a number of other festivals in Brazil and elsewhere including the Florianópolis Audiovisual Mercosu Festival and Forum, where it won the competition, and the Reykjavik International Film Festival.

“George’s 40th Birthday” is a nine-minute comedy directed by Brittney Segal. The film is a funny but twisted story about a disgruntled salesman, George, who decides to bring a gun to work on his fortieth birthday. Little does George realize that this day will hold some surprises for him. “George’s 40th Birthday” was selected to play at the Los Angeles Comedy Festival and the Burbank International Film Festival.

“The Binding of Ishmael”
, directed by Taofik Kolade, is a drama from Singapore. The film follows a father and son who are on a journey to kill a family member because of his sexual orientation. The film is based real life Muslim “honor killings.” “The Binding of Ishmael” was also official selection at several other film festivals including the Seattle International Film Festival and the Palm Springs International ShortFest.

“Loading” is a three-minute experimental piece directed by local filmmaker Daniel Supanick. The film is about a frustrated filmmaker who cannot figure out how to load a film into a camera. The film’s use of film clips and sound bites give it a unique feel. “Loading” was also selected to play at the Rosebud Film and Video Festival and the DMV Indie Film Showcase.

“Sunshower” is a romantic comedy directed by Justin Reager. A sweet story about an everyday dilemma, the film follows Sean, a high school romantic who convinces his inventor best friend to create a situation where he gets to kiss the girl.

You can catch these nine shorts at the DC Showcase #4 on Thursday, September 8 at 9:00 PM at Artisphere, on Sunday, September 11 at 2:00 PM at E Street Cinema, or on Wednesday, September 14 at 9:00 PM at E Street Cinema.

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The People of DC Shorts: Laura Gross

Posted on August 29, 2011 by dcsblog

Laura Gross

Laura Gross is an award-winning public relations expert with experience in the political, international, government, and non-profit sectors, who advises organizations and individuals on their communications strategies. She has designed and implemented public relations plans for many prominent organizations and individuals, including Gov. Howard Dean, National Public Radio (NPR) and the U.S. government. Her clients and former projects have included work for national and local politicians, a corporate acquisition, authors, and high ranking government officials.

Originally from Atlanta, Laura has lived in D.C. for 15 years. She loves the city and the people and can’t imagine living anywhere else. Her first roommate in D.C. was Jon Gann’s sister and when she founded her PR firm, Scott Circle Communications, Jon became one of her first clients, hiring her to work on DC Shorts promoting films for the first time. She loves that DC Shorts is expanding to more venues this year, especially it’s growth into Virginia – the more, the merrier. A resident of Chevy Chase, Laura lives with her husband, Maurice Werner, and their 10-month-old twin daughters, Lily and Sasha. Check out her professional biography to learn more.

 

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DC SHORTS NEWS ROUNDUP

Posted on August 26, 2011 by dcsblog

by Zander Sirlin

DC Shorts continues to be talked about around the internet. Here are more articles about the festival that caught our eye:

DC Shorts Film Festival Expands 11 Days, Four Venues – Expands to Rosslyn, Va.
ART (202)
The official blog of the DC Commission on the Arts & Humanities writes about the festival’s growth in terms of number of films, days, and venues.

Film Festival!
BISNOW: the Scene
Notes from a sneak preview of the festival.

“Os Anjos do Meio da Praça” no DC Shorts Film Festival
Blog da Buba Filmes
An example of the international reach of DC Shorts, this Brazilian blog talks about the festival and the animated short, “The Angels in the Middle of the Square”.

Did we miss something? Let us know in the comments!

 

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DC Shorts: The Locals

Posted on August 25, 2011 by dcsblog

by Joe Flood

Think that movies are only made in Hollywood? The filmmaking business is alive and well in the Washington area, as highlighted by these local films in the DC Shorts Film Festival.

ABC
This drama about a couple of escaped fugitives was made by a slew of Virginians, including Jackie Steven from Arlington Independent Media.

Frienemies
Check out the trailer for this timely short film on high school sexting.

Gilded Age Gladiator
John L. Sullivan and bare-knuckle boxing is examined in this documentary by Brad Lambert & Rob Benica.

Loading
You don’t need much to make an interesting film, as demonstrated by this three-minute experimental short.

Man with a Bolex Movie Camera
American University is represented in this black and white sex comedy. (See our interviews with directors Colin Foster and Jason Fraley.)

Relative
For commuters, Metro can feel like a rolling town, like a community on wheels, as demonstrated by this touching film from the Washington Improv Theater.

Soccer City: Superstar
Local documentarian Nick Fitzhugh takes us into South Africa’s townships to look at life beyond the glamor of the World Cup.

Sweetness & Art
There’s a fine line between food and art.

The Man in 813
Living in apartment building (what was that sound?) can be creepy.

From breezy comedies to soul-stirring documentaries, these short films by local directors demonstrate that you can make movies anywhere – even in Washington, DC.

Find more great shorts with the super-fun Film Sorter.

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The People of DC Shorts: Joann Pham

Posted on August 24, 2011 by dcsblog

Joann, a Baltimore native, is a student at George Mason University, where she is pursuing a degree in Media Production and Criticism with a minor in Film and Media Studies.

As the finance intern for DC Shorts, she was drawn to the festival when she discovered the pivotal role it plays in the local filmmaking scene. Seeing how a film festival works from the inside is an experience that she greatly values. Joann is currently involved in several film projects, including working on a historical documentary and editing a short film.

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FILMMAKER INTERVIEW: JASON FRALEY, CO-DIRECTOR OF “MAN WITH A BOLEX MOVIE CAMERA”

Posted on August 23, 2011 by dcsblog

By Zander Sirlin

Recently I posted an interview with Colin Foster, one of two local filmmakers who directed “Man with a Bolex Movie Camera”. Since communicating with Foster, I have had the opportunity to get in touch with the film’s other director, Jason Fraley, who I wouldn’t want to leave out of this blog.

Fraley has co-produced the puppet series “Metro Monsters” for NBC-4, and the script for his master’s thesis film, “Liberty Road”, which won Outstanding Short Screenplay at the 2011 Visions Film Festival.

What first got you interested in film?

I started making movies at age six when my twin brother and I saw Home Alone and decide to create our own version, “Boy By Himself” (very original, I know). Like most guys who grew up in the ’90s camcorder era, we continued to make home movies by spoofing a number of films, from Batman to Indiana Jones. I guess I always knew that movies would in some way be a part of my future.

Is there any real story that inspired the making of your film?

Like Colin said, “Man with a Bolex Movie Camera” really began as a joke. We were shooting a class project on a Bolex 16 mm film camera and it was the first time any of us had shot on film. Colin cracked a joke about how porn filmmakers must have been super dedicated back in the day, because those antique cameras require so much work. That led to him writing the script; it doing well at competitions; and then him asking me to co-direct with him. I was thrilled to help out on such a funny script and tried to see how many old movies we could reference throughout the film.

How would you describe your background in film? What education or experience do you have in filmmaking?

My knowledge in film really comes from a film theory and criticism perspective. While studying journalism in college, I befriended Michael Sragow, film critic for The Baltimore Sun, who told a great story about how he wrote a paper on The Wild Bunch in 1969 that impressed his professor so much that he wrote him a recommendation for NYU film school. Wouldn’t you know it, the same thing later happened to me, only it was a paper on Rear Window for Professor Joseph Miller at the University of Maryland. From there, I applied to the masters program at American University and studied theory under Larry Engel. In my spare time, I’ve spent the last five years writing 300 reviews of classic movies. It’s a labor of love that I’m very close to turning into a film critic website, The Film Spectrum, which I hope to launch this fall. This research has honestly taught me more than any film class. So when The Washington Post wrote a piece in the Sunday Style Section about my day job at WTOP Radio, they noted: “Fraley, a film buff, is known for his savant-like ability to name every Best Picture winner in history, by year.”

What advice do you have for students interested in attending the same school?

I’d say you should find the right professors who will push you and take you under their wing. I’d also do as much studying OUTSIDE on your own, taking advantage of the free films at the library, and really learning the history of your craft. Like anything in life, you’ll only get out of the program what you put in. If you put your heart and soul in, the right teachers will repay it in kind. If you choose to coast through, you may pull it off, but you’ll have wasted your time and your money.

How would you describe the DC film scene?

I’ve long said if Hollywood were located in Bethesda, I would be the happiest guy in the world, because I love it around here. Instead, DC  is mostly a documentary town, with National Geographic and Discovery here, as well as the SILVERDOCS festival at the AFI Silver Theater in Silver Spring. The good news is that DC, Maryland and Virginia have so many historical landmarks that large fiction productions do come here to shoot (including Spielberg’s “Lincoln” this fall), but it’s really hard to get on those productions unless you are an established crew member. On the other hand, DC Shorts has emerged as one of the premiere short film festivals in the country, so you do have a good place to showcase your work there.

How has being where you are from impacted your film or filmmaking?

I am a Maryland boy, born and raised in Frederick, MD. That background has influenced me tremendously, as I actually shot my thesis film, “Liberty Road,” in my hometown at a seafood restaurant where I worked growing up. Needless to say, that film was infused with a Chesapeake Bay atmosphere. On a broader level, I really think my small-town roots have inspired my style of writing films about the family dynamic and about ordinary people in extraordinary situations.

Who or what do you cite as major inspirations for your work? This does not necessarily have to be from cinema.

I am most inspired by the work of Alfred Hitchcock, Francis Ford Coppola, Martin Scorsese and John Ford. I am in awe of how they can play their audience for such a thrilling/entertaining ride on first watch, but leave such genius layers of art for you to unravel with each subsequent viewing. I absolutely appreciate masterpieces on both ends of the spectrum, from art classics like La Dolce Vita and Citizen Kane, to mainstream classics like Airplane! and Caddyshack. Still, there’s just something special about the Hitchcocks of the world, who can strike that perfect balance between art and entertainment. That’s just my personal philosophy.

How would you describe your filmmaking process?

On the writing side, I love lining the script with universal themes and packing it with a string of set-ups and payoffs. Once I get to the directing phase, I am a fiend for “mise-en-scene,” that is, the arrangement of all elements within the frame. I love filling the frame with symbolism, be it items hanging on the wall, color schemes of the wardrobe, light and shadow, a character’s symbolic size in the frame or a character’s blocking in relationship with his fellow characters. This is what really gets me going in the morning, and it’s something that too few filmmakers worry about. Granted, you need to take care of the pressing things first — pacing, mood and directing your actors — but then after all this is down, the FUN part begins — layering every shot with symbolic imagery and applying a different “directing idea” to each scene. It’s stuff that people will take multiple viewings to fully grasp, and for that, I love it.

What technology/programs did you use to make your film?

We shot on a Sony EX-1 with a Letus lens adapter and we edited on Final Cut Pro.

What was your film’s budget? How was it financed?

The film cost just $500 because it was shot in one location using as much free school equipment as possible. Comparatively, my thesis film cost $9,000, so looking back at “Bolex,” I am amazed how much we pulled off with so small a budget.

Did you make the film for anyone in particular? What audience did you have in mind?

We made the film for anyone looking to have a good laugh, while realizing filmmakers would get an extra kick out of it. Even so, I don’t think it’s too much inside baseball, because film novices get to experience the film through the eyes of the female lead, Chrissy, who is constantly asking questions about every little device. Aside from a few F-bombs and sex jokes, it is actually a very tame comedy that’s silly enough for anyone to enjoy.

Do you have any advice for aspiring filmmakers? Anything for people from your area?

Study your craft with a sick hunger for history and a desire to figure out what really makes the great filmmakers tick. The rest will fall in place. Also, allow yourself ample time for your productions, as everything will take twice as long as you think.

Where can readers view your work and learn more about you?

You can check out my website:
http://jasonfraley.org/
My film critic website will also be up and running this fall:
www.filmspectrum.org

“Man with a Bolex Movie Camera” is playing with eight other great short films in DC Shorts Showcase #16.

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DC SHORTS SHOWCASE 3: ANGELS, AUSTRALIA, AND CHERNOBYL

Posted on August 22, 2011 by dcsblog

By Zander Sirlin

The third DC Shorts Showcase is another eclectic bunch of short films. Tragedy, comedy, and even one horror piece all make their way into the mix. In two of the shorts, animation is used very creatively. This group features mostly films made outside of the US.

“Worn” is a 16 minute drama written and directed by Marc Carlini. The film follows Emma, a young woman with an affinity for nightlife whose latest regretful night leads her on a path of self-realization. Every outfit in Emma’s wardrobe serves as a reminder of her promiscuous past, but ultimately there is hope. “Worn” was also selected to play at the Flyover Film Festival and the Seattle International Film Festival.

“Tattoo”, directed by Paul Helin, is a 20 minute thriller from Finland. The film is about a young under-age girl who goes to a tattoo parlor in order to get her first tattoo from a shady skin-artist. Thoroughly creepy, the film unsurprisingly yields a shocking twist, but one that will appropriately leave you highly disturbed. “Tattoo” was also the official selection of the Route 66 International Film Festival and the HollyShorts Film Festival.

“Os Anos Do Meio Da Praça” (The Angels in the Middle of the Square), another representative of DC Shorts’ partnership with the Embassy of Brazil, is a 10 minute animation directed by Alé Camargo and Camila Carrossine. A fable, the film describes a tale about angels who have fallen to Earth only to be caged up in the middle of a town square and fed forgotten dreams. The film uses a kind of fantastical art style to tell the kind of imaginative story that perhaps only an animation could tell. “Os Anos Do Meio Da Praça” has played at several other festivals including the Brazilian Film Festival of Toronto, where it was awarded Best Director and Best Picture, and the Grand Prix Brazilian Cinema, where it was a finalist for Best Short Animation.

“La Denière Rondelle” (The Last Time Around) is a seven minute French Canadian drama directed by David Tomassini. It is an emotional film about an elderly man’s last skate around the ice hockey rink after being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.

“TGIF”, directed by Brian Lien as a part of a ten film project called the Secret Film Society, is a ten minute film from Australia. It is a nice little story about a young woman, Claire, who spots the man she likes at the bar she’s drinking at with her friends. The uncertainties of modern communication make it unclear whether or not the man is also interested in her. “TGIF” was screened at the Dungog Film Festival as well.

“Twisted Proverbs: Candle” is a two minute comedy directed by Heather Scobies. The film, the first in a series of short films that take unconventional looks at old sayings, humorously describes an elderly man who gains a new perspective on his marriage of seemingly a million years when he dines by candle light during a storm. “Twisted Proverbs: Candle” was also selected to play at the Santa Fe 3-Minute Film Festival and the Myrtle Beach International Film Festival.

“Leonids Geschichte” (Leonid’s History), directed by Rainer Ludwigs and Tetyana Chernyavska, is a 19 minute animated documentary from Germany. It presents a powerful first-person account of the tragic 1986 Chernobyl disaster and its aftermath through the eyes of a man and his family. The film uses a combination of drawing, photography, and documentary video to tell the story, giving a special and very personal touch to the memories being recounted. “Leonids Geschichte” was official selection at a number of other film festivals including the Winter Green Filmfest and the Melbourne International Film Festival, where it won awards at both.

“Squeeze”, written and directed by Will Goodfellow, is a six minute comedy from Australia. A funny imagining of an unlikely situation, the film follows a convict attempting a prison break. On his journey to freedom through a narrow sewage pipe, the criminal runs into another prisoner trying to sneak back in. “Squeeze” was also selected to play at several other film festivals including the Laugh Track Comedy Festival, and the Janison Short Sharp Film Festival, where it won Runner Up Film.

You can catch these eight shorts at the DC Shorts Showcase #3 on Thursday, September 8 at 6:30 PM at Artisphere, on Sunday, September 11 at 12:00 PM at E Street Cinema, or on Wednesday, September 14 at 7:00 PM at E Street Cinema.

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DC Shorts News Roundup

Posted on August 19, 2011 by dcsblog

by Joe Flood

DC Shorts has been in the news! Here are some articles that caught our eye:

2011 “DC Shorts” Film Festival & Screenplay Competition To Open Next Month
IndieWire: Shadow and Act
The author highlights the films most of interest to readers of this blog on cinema of the African diaspora.

Comcast Newsmaker: Jon Gann
Maryland Comcast
Watch this video interview with Jon Gann (DC Shorts Founder) to learn about the history of the festival and what’s new for 2011.

DC Shorts Film Fest so popular it’s expanded four days September 8-18
Examiner.com
One of last year’s films, “God of Love,” won an Oscar. What might win an Academy Award this year?

DC Shorts: Inviting the Community to Participate
The Dressing
She’s a fan of nerdy dance scenes.

Did we miss something? Let us know in the comments!

 

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Learn to Write a Screenplay with ScriptDC

Posted on August 18, 2011 by dcsblog

ScriptDC

The DC Shorts Film Festival is not only a September showcase of short films from around the world, but also a screenplay competition every October. The finalists in this unique competition are read aloud before a live audience, who gets to decide the winner. The winning writer receives $2000 to turn their script into a short film.

The screenplay portion of the festival is the highlight event of the largest screenwriting conference in the region: ScriptDC, a cooperative project between DC Shorts, Women in Film & Video, TIVA-DC, and the Actors’ Center.

The conference takes place October 14-16. It’s the premiere event for Mid-Atlantic writers and filmmakers to achieve their creative dreams by connecting them with accomplished teachers, consultants and industry professionals. In addition to the DC Shorts screenplay reading, the weekend-long event includes:

  • Opening night movie screening and Q&A
  • Pitch session to industry professionals
  • Workshops for all skill levels — from beginner to seasoned pros
  • Screenplay critiques

ScriptDC is an excellent opportunity to learn the art of screenwriting, without a trip to LA. Sessions are small and you’ll have a chance to mingle with expert speakers like Gordy Hoffman, Marilyn Horowitz and Jon Gann, founder of DC Shorts.


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DC Shorts: By the Numbers

Posted on August 17, 2011 by dcsblog

Established in 2003, the DC Shorts Film Festival has gotten bigger and better with each passing year.

How big? Let’s look at the numbers:

Films judged: 800+ from 34 countries

Films selected: 97 from 11 countries

Filmmaker attendees: 107 from 4 countries and 14 states

Tickets sold: 5,218 (an increase of 21% from 2009)

VIP passes sold: 74

Number of screenings: 22 (eight sold out)

Mini-burgers and pizza rolls consumed: 410

Ketel One vodka bottles drunk: 27

“Feed a filmmaker” passes: 107

Attendees arriving by Metro: 4,649

Arriving by car: 204

Photos posted to Flickr: 1500+ just from DC Shorts photographers

DCshorts.com web site visitors: 25,949

Awards presented: 15 (6 filmmaker awards and 9 audience favorites)

Amount spent by the festival organizers, audience and filmmakers in Penn Quarter: $240K+

Check out the 2010 report for more great numbers, including demographic info. As you can tell from just this snapshot, DC Shorts is more than just for film fans – it has an impact on Washington, generating tourism, restaurant visits and other forms of economic activity.

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The People of DC Shorts: Thomas Achilles

Posted on August 16, 2011 by dcsblog

Thomas Achilles

Tom, originally from Philadelphia, is a rising junior at American University, where he is studying Public Communications. He has always been involved with community theatre and acting, which is what sparked his interest in film and his desire to intern at DC Shorts. He is enjoying learning about the work goes in to the making of a film festival.

Tom’s hobbies include performing on an improv comedy team at the Washington Improv Theatre. He is very interested in pursuing work in comedy, whether it’s screenwriting, stand-up or television production.

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DC SHORTS SHOWCASE 2: AROUND THE WORLD IN FILM

Posted on August 15, 2011 by dcsblog

 By Zander Sirlin

The second DC Shorts Showcase is another eclectic group of great short films. Though the films vary in subject and tone, nearly half of them are comedies and a quarter of them are animations. Even more international in scope than the first showcase, Showcase #2 features mostly shorts made outside of the U.S.

“La Tragedia del Hombre Hueco” (The Hollow Man’s Tragedy), directed by Jorge De Guillae, is a 16 minute film from Spain. It follows Gonzalo, a young man who, after a difficult breakup with his girlfriend, visits a doctor to discover that he has not only lost his heart figuratively, but literally as well. A walking medical anomaly, Gonzalo is given a seed by which he may grow another heart to replace the old one. The fantasy twist the film employs to examine heartbreak is both clever and enjoyable.

“Adventure Girls III” is a one minute comedy directed by Jon Deitcher. Part of an online series, it is about two Japanese-speaking vampire school girls on a wild road trip with a stolen car and the hitchhiker they victimize. As a mega-short production, “Adventure Girls III” weirdly works as an entertaining interlude between pieces.

“Miyuki’s Wind Bell”, directed by Ken Ochiai, is a 20 minute film from Japan. It follows Miyuki, a snooty city girl from Tokyo who, against her will, is charged with taking her two young half-brothers to the countryside home of their grandmother. Pleasantly told, the trip proves to be spiritually eye-opening for her, despite her initial misgivings. “Miyuki’s Wind Bell” was also selected to play at the Short Shorts Film Festival, the Nasu Short Film Festival, and the LA Shorts Fest.

“Stanley Pickle” is an 11 minute animation from the United Kingdom directed by Vicky Mather. The film follows Stanley, a twenty-year-old who lives at home with his parents and never leaves the house. Stanley’s perfect wind-up world is changed forever when he encounters a mysterious girl outside. Though “Stanley Pickle” is a kind of animation, the actors are real people, as the film uses a very interesting technique called ‘Pixilation’, where actors are animated as opposed to using stop-motion puppets. The look of the film is fantastic, perfectly suiting both the tone and the humor of the story. Stanley Pickle has been circulating festivals ever since and so far has won twenty four international awards. The director, Mather, was recently named a “Brit to watch” by the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA).

“Bot” is a three and a half minute 3D animation directed by Mustafa Lazkani. The film is about a 19th century scientist who brings a 19 foot tall robot to life in order to destroy and conquer. Contrary to the evil genius’ plans, the robot is born innocent. The dark aesthetic of the film is very well suited to the kind of wordless, comical storytelling it presents. The film has played at a number of festivals including the New Media Film Festival and the Ashland Independent Film Festival, and it won Best 3D Animation at the FirstGlance Film Festival and Best Animated Film at the LakeShorts International Short Film Festival.

“Protect the Nation”, directed by C. R. Reisser, is a 16 minute South African/German co-production concerned with the 2008 wave of xenophobic attacks in South Africa. Set in one of South Africa’s townships, the film follows a young boy who begins to question his character after recieving the unexpected kindness of a stranger. The film shows that goodness can survive a terrible event. “Protect the Nation” has been selected to play at a number of other film festivals including the Pan African Film Festival, the Cinequest Film Festival, and the Dallas Film Festival.

“The Winking Boy” is a 15 minute comedy directed by Marcus Dineen from Australia. The film tells the story of Martin, a normal man who enjoys a pampered lifestyle at special clinical center by fooling everyone into thinking that he is completely paralyzed and can only communicate by winking. When a new nurse starts working at the center, Martin begins using his position to perpetrate acts that ruin the reputation of another nurse. The film is a darkly hilarious exploration into what one person could potentially pull off if they took advantage of society to act however they pleased. “The Winking Boy” has been selected to play at a number of film festivals including the American Independent Film Festival and Cannes Film Festival as part of its Short Film Corner, and it has won a number of awards including the Golden Ace Award at the Las Vegas International Film Festival and the Van Gogh award for Best Comedy at the Amsterdam Film Festival.

“Bip Bip” (Beep Beep) is a five minute French Canadian comedy directed by Phillipe Gregoire. The film follows Francis, a man trying to fall asleep in a car. His efforts are thwarted by the constant beeping of his girlfriend’s alarm watch clock. Things get strange in a way you woldn’t expect. “Bip Bip” was also selected to play at the Niagara Indie Filmfest, the enRoute Film Festival, and the Mississauga Independent Film Festival.

You can catch these eight shorts at the DC Shorts Showcase #2 on Thursday, September 8 at 9:30 PM at E Street Cinema, on Sunday, September 11 at 1:00 PM at Artisphere, or on Wednesday, September 14 at 5:00 PM at E Street Cinema.

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FILMMAKER INTERVIEW: COLIN FOSTER, WRITER AND CO-DIRECTOR OF “MAN WITH A BOLEX MOVIE CAMERA”

Posted on August 12, 2011 by dcsblog

By Zander Sirlin

Colin Foster is the writer and co-director of the short film, “Man with a Bolex Movie Camera.” Foster is one of a number of local filmmakers being represented in the DC Shorts Film Festival. The film was shot in Chevy Chase using several students and graduates of American University.

Named after Vertov’s Man with a Movie Camera, “Man with a Bolex Movie Camera” follows a young couple trying to make a sex tape using a Bolex, an ancient 16mm camera that must be continuously winded up. The making of the sex tape is humorously complicated by both the obsolete camera and the man’s devotion to quality filmmaking.

As a finalist in last year’s DC Shorts Screenplay Competition, Foster got to see his screenplay for “Man with a Bolex Movie Camera” performed by local actors in a live reading. The subsequent short film has toured with the CineKink film festival in New York City and Las Vegas and it was named an Honorable Mention at the Rochester International Film Festival.

What first got you interested in film?

I feel like there are so many different answers I could give to this question. In the end though I think the best answer is that I just always loved movies. When I was a kid I watched them so much my parents were actually concerned about it to the extent that they decided to limit the amount of time I could spend in front of the television. The obsession continued on into adulthood and when I was looking into going to graduate school it occurred to me that maybe I should apply to a few film programs, and so I did. I got accepted, and here I am today.

Is there a real story that inspired the making of the film?

HAHA! When you see the film this question will make you chuckle…

But sadly, no. I would love to say that I once tried to make a sex tape using a Bolex, or even that I knew someone who tried, but it would be a lie. “Man with a Bolex Movie Camera” actually just began as an offhand joke. Myself and several friends were shooting a project for a class on a Bolex and it was the first time any of us had shot on film. It was difficult to say the least and so I made a joke about how dedicated pornographers must have been back in the day to put up with everything necessary in order to make a film look nice. It snowballed from there and eventually became this film.

How would you describe your background in film? What education or experience do you have in filmmaking?

This past spring I received my MFA in Film and Electronic Media from American University. While in school over the past three years I’ve worked on a lot of student productions and a few professional ones. At this point I would say that I’m a relatively well informed novice. What I mean by that is that I’ve studied film from a production and theoretical standpoint, but I haven’t worked professionally long enough to consider myself truly knowledgeable about how movies are made in the real world.

What advice do you have for students interested in attending the same school?

You’d better want to make movies that try to make a difference in the world because AU’s motto is “make media that matters”. I don’t think that it’s a bad motto to have but if you want to make a movie like Stranger than Paradise or The Royal Tenenbaums then AU might not be the best place for you.

How would you describe the DC film scene?

DC has a small but vibrant filmmaking community. Most of the work being done here is on documentaries.

How has being where you are from impacted your film or filmmaking?

Well, if we’re talking about DC then I would say it has impacted me very little. If we’re talking about where I’m from originally, which is Rochester, NY, I would say it has impacted me vastly. Rochester is home to Eastman Kodak. The company was founded in Rochester back in the day by George Eastman and his presence in the city is difficult to ignore. Almost every university in Rochester has an Eastman building that he donated and his home, a vast mansion in downtown Rochester reminiscent of Gatsby’s home in Fitzgerald’s famous novel, is now a museum. Every child of Rochester takes at least one field trip there at some time or another and the result is that Rochester is a city that LOVES good films. The Eastman house has a theater attached to it that screens old movies several times a week (most recently I saw the old Howard Hawks classic, Bringing Up Baby there). In addition, Rochester is a town that loves independent film and so as a result, the films that I love most are art house films and independent cinema.

Who or what do you cite as major inspirations for your work? 

In the case of “Man with a Bolex Movie Camera” I would say that it is directly inspired by the screwball comedies of the 30′s and 40′s (Bringing Up Baby, His Girl Friday, It Happened One Night, etc…). When I look at all of my work mixed together, I would say that it is mostly a combination of screwball comedy and French new wave. I’m a sucker for two things, a) a good story, and b) a filmmaker who sees it as their job to push their medium to the edge. Alain Resnais, Federico Fellini, and Jim Jarmusch are three prime examples of what can happen when good story meets experimentation and they’re my heroes because of it.

How would you describe your filmmaking process?

I’m not really sure yet. Maybe I haven’t made enough films to truly know what works for me and what doesn’t? I do believe very strongly in the Hitchcockian method of complete and absolute preparation. Of course when you’re shooting a happy accident will occur here and there and there should be freedom to see what might come of it but the greatest directors are those who have a vision and who strive to make that vision come to life. I believe that without preparation I would fail to execute any sort of vision and hence any film I make will suffer as a result.

What technology/programs did you use to make your film?

We shot on a Sony EX-1 with a Letus lens adapter and we edited on Final Cut Pro.

What was your film’s budget? How was it financed?

The film costed about $500 and it came out of our own pockets and the pockets of our friends (as I’m saying this I’m slightly dumbfounded that we made it for such little money, the next film I made cost $6,000 and now I consider that to be incredibly cheap).

Did you make the film for anyone in particular? What audience did you have in mind?

I suppose I made it for filmmakers more than anyone else but I like to think that most anyone can enjoy it. We tried really hard to answer questions that non-film people would have by making the character of Chrissy a novice on the subject and having her set up Ryan with crucial questions such as “what is a light meter?”

Do you have any advice for aspiring filmmakers?

Making movies is incredibly hard but because of this difficulty it is also very rewarding. My biggest piece of advice would be to start small. Very small. A teacher once told me that and I thought I understood him but in reality it went right over my head. The best films are often the most simple ones, both in terms of concept and production. If I offer any more advice I will be overstepping my boundary because I still consider myself to be a beginner as a filmmaker.

Where can readers view your work and learn more about you?

Soon I will take one step closer to professionalism and have a website (this will be happening VERY soon. The ball is already rolling and the site should go live within the next few weeks). Until then I would suggest checking out my vimeo page: http://vimeo.com/user4939679

You could also check out my co-director’s website: http://jasonfraley.org/
His name is Jason Fraley and he is amazingly talented.

“Man with a Bolex Movie Camera” is playing with eight other great short films in DC Shorts Showcase #16.

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Actors Needed for Screenplay Reading

Posted on August 11, 2011 by dcsblog

screenplay competition reading

DC Shorts is more than just a film festival. It’s also a short screenplay competition that has its finale in October, as part of the ScriptDC screenwriting conference.

Five finalists have been selected for the screenplay competition. These short scripts will be read aloud in a “theater in the round” format before a live audience. The winning story, as selected by the audience, receives $2000 to turn their script into a short film – one that’s also automatically accepted into next year’s DC Shorts Film Festival.

(Watch the comedy Interview Date to see the clever script that won last year’s competition.)

Actors are needed for the screenplay reading next month. Check out the casting call for the details and help a movie go from script to screen!

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The People of DC Shorts: Joshua Katinsky

Posted on August 10, 2011 by dcsblog

Joshua Katinsky is a 19-year-old student from Baltimore studying at the Savannah College of Art and Design. His great respect for the people who make film festivals, in addition to his passion for writing and filmmaking, are what led him to working for DC Shorts.

Though he says he’s slowly learning that helping to put together a film festival is no walk in the park, for him nothing beats the excitement surrounding the coming together of a great mess of people from all over the world to celebrate their passion for film.

Josh looks forward to submitting his own films to the festival in the years to come.

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FILMMAKER INTERVIEW: EVAN BUXBAUM, DIRECTOR OF LA LINEA

Posted on August 10, 2011 by dcsblog

 

By Zander Sirlin

New York filmmaker Evan Buxbaum is not new to the art of short filmmaking. “La Línea” is his fourth work in the medium.

The film, a nine minute short “based on nine million true stories,” tells the story of Alejandro, a Mexican who discovers that his border-crossing journey into America will not be a lonely one.

In contrast to films with related subject matters, “La Línea” notably takes a more lighthearted approach to telling a story of illegal immigration.

What first got you interested in film?

Legos. I used to make stop-action movies with Legos. Once I realized I could use film to make a toy actually move? Man, I was sold.

Is there any real story/person(s)/event(s)/etc. that inspired the making of your film?

I worked in a bar and ended up spending a lot of time with, and around, illegal immigrants from Mexico who worked in all of the restaurants nearby. They would sit around and tell the craziest stories, stories that I would hear and think, is that really true? One day my bar back and I came up with the idea of making a movie about it – inspired by the people around us.

How would you describe your background in film? What education or experience do you have in filmmaking?

I’ve been making films of one kind or another since I was young, probably 6 or 7. I didn’t go to film school, but made films throughout my time at every school I went to.  After graduating high school, I went to Swarthmore College, and majored in Political Science with a minor in International Conflict Resolution. It’s an interesting choice whether to go to film school or not, and I think it’s different for everyone. For as many successful filmmakers as there are out there, that’s how many potential paths there are to success. It’s just not something you can copy. For some people, film school is the right choice. For others, it’s not. I wanted to get a broad education, and in many ways, that education informs the topics that I engage in my films.

What advice do you have for students interested in attending the same school?

I loved Swarthmore. You will not graduate with a pre-set list of contacts or network within the film community, but you will get a great education. Like I said, trade-offs.

How would you describe the film “scene” in your area?

I think the scene has become very diverse and dispersed. It’s harder and harder to find the scene, as technology pushes the limits of what is possible into basements and garages.

How has (where you are from) impacted your film or filmmaking?

I think New York, as a city, gives you something. Being an artist in New York, living in Brooklyn, it’s inspirational. It adds to my work. In ways that it’s difficult to describe.  There’s a pulse in this city, a beat, a drive, and you can’t fake that or find it in many places.

Who or what do you cite as major inspirations for your work? This does not necessarily have to be from cinema.

I love Woody Allen. I saw Midnight in Paris the other night, and fell in love with that guy all over again. I love the dialogue of the Coen Brothers, the way it meanders with a purpose.  No camera movement or lens use has ever inspired me more than Spielberg’s. Gus van Sant for his artistic sensibility and treatment of actors. Wes Anderson’s visual originality. Anton Chekhov if we want to go way back. Those would be the people whose work I most admire, and who inspire me on a daily basis.

How would you describe your filmmaking process?

I think the most interesting journey in a young filmmaker’s life is the process from your first movie, to the first movie you actually believe represents who you are.

What technology/programs did you use to make your film?

We shot on the Canon 7D, two of them, and edited on Final Cut Pro.

What was your film’s budget? How was it financed?

We scraped together what we could, and shot it for that. The film was fully financed by myself and a few other people. It’s always a struggle with shorts, because there’s virtually no money in them, so it’s just about getting it done the best you can, and trying to stay afloat. Lots of duct tape. And favors.

Did you make the film for anyone in particular? What audience did you have in mind?

Our idea going into this film was simple: illegally immigrating to America across the Mexican border is a personal experience that can manifest in many ways, and the journey is sometimes fraught with unimaginable tragedy – yet while that is a very real aspect of the issue, it is not the only aspect. Talking to those who I have come across, I’ve heard absurdly comical stories, stories that not only make those listening laugh, but also the storytellers themselves! However, this diversity of experience notwithstanding, those stories that are dramatically wrenching and tragic continually constitute the vast majority of the film work on the subject.

It was our goal to approach illegal immigration from another, equally real, perspective – the absurd, human, touching, and often comical side. We made “La Línea” out of a desire to explore that aspect of the thousands of crossings that are made every year, to revel in the often humorous and human drama of illegal immigration. Our film is a celebration of the tenacity and humor of the human spirit in one of the more complicated geopolitical climates in the world – the Mexican-American borderland.

We are currently developing “La Línea” into a feature length film. It is my goal to shape this short into a full length film that will be at once compassionate, humorous, and perhaps most importantly, accessible to a broader American audience. It’s a story that needs to be told and I believe there’s an audience waiting to see it. This short was the first step, and we’re on our way.

Do you have any advice for aspiring filmmakers? Anything for people from your area?

Keep making films. Get out there, get involved in other people’s projects. You never know who you will meet, or where it will take you.

Where can readers view your work and learn more about you?

On my website at www.evanwolfbuxbaum.com. The film’s site can be found at www.Lalineamovie.com.

“La Línea” is playing with eight other great short films in DC Shorts Showcase #1.

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SHOWCASE 1: Neil Labute, Frienemies and Nine Million True Stories

Posted on August 9, 2011 by dcsblog

By Zander Sirlin

The first DC Shorts Showcase contains nine great short films. Two of the films are international. “A Menina Espantalho” (The Scarecrow Girl) is one of 13 Brazilian shorts being shown as DC Shorts. “Pizzangrillo” (Lighthearted Boy) is from Italy. “La Línea” (The Line), while American, tells a Mexican story in Spanish.

Produced by Sneak Attack Films, “Long Story Short” is a 20 minute black and white short directed by Ryan Darst. The film is the story of Fisher, a young comedian who meets and falls for the girl of his dreams, Georgia, at an audition for an improve comedy show, and the subsequent night they spend together despite the significant height difference between the two. The film’s convincing performances draws you in despite its brevity. In addition to playing at the DC Shorts Film Festival, “Long Story Short” has been selected to play at the Ashland Independent Film Festival, the Maui Film Festival, the Newport Beach Film Festival, and the Tupelo Film Festival, and it has won the Independent Spirit Award at the Santa Clarita Film Festival.

“The Man in 813” is a three minute experimental film by electronic music artist Arlin Godwin. The film details the mundane, weird, unexplainable and sometimes disturbing things occurring in one apartment building over the course of a 24 hour period and the resident who has lost his patience for such happenings. “The Man in 813” is both original and intriguing storytelling.

“After-School Special” is a nine minute short directed by Jacob Chase and written by playwright Neil Labute. The film describes an awkward encounter between a teacher and a divorced dad at an indoor playground. The film’s shocking twist provokes a rethinking of what we assume about the people around us. “After-School Special” has been selected for a number of other film festivals including the Palm Springs International Shortfest, the New York International Film Festival, and the Sidewalk Moving Picture Film Festival, and it has won Best Screenplay at the Visionfest Film Festival.

“A Menina Espantalho” is a 12 minute short directed by Cássio Pereira dos Santos. The film tells the story of Luzia, the daughter of a farmer who, despite being denied the opportunity to go to school with her brother Pedro, learns how to read her own way. The girl’s overcoming of her unfortunate predicament is uplifting.

“Spiral Transition” is a six minute documentary by Ewan Duarte describing the filmmaker’s relationship with his mother and the way it has been affected by his transgender transition into a man. The film is a compelling look at a real life story you don’t see every day.

“Pizzangrillo” is a 15 minute film directed by Marco Gianfreda. Tired of his life, 65 year old Ettore tries each day to find the courage to end it by driving himself into a country ditch on his three-wheeled vehicle. When Luca, Ettore’s 10 year old nephew, discovers his uncle’s dark intentions he decides to follow him, leading to a trip to a fun fair that causes Ettore to regain his zest for life.

“She was the One” is a three minute animation directed by Tim Rauch and David Isay. The imagery in the film aids a man’s recollections of his fiancée and her death in the World Trade Center on September 11th, 2001. Though brief, the film is a moving memory to just one of the many victims of the terrorist attacks. The animation is a part of an initiative to honor and remember all those affected by September 11 by StoryCorps, a Peabody-winning oral history project.

“Frienemies” is a 14 minute drama directed by DC local Anthony Brenneman. The film is the story of two girls, Tanya and Isabel, whose close friendship has been deteriorating ever since they started high school. Their relationship is put to the test when two older boys take advantage of them one night. The film solidly depicts a story surrounding an everyday adolescent subject. “Frienemies” won a Cine Golden Eagle award and it won the Outstanding Graduate Fiction Production award and the Women in Film & Video craft award for Best Editing at American University’s Visions ceremony.

“La Línea”, directed by Evan Buxbaum, is a nine minute short “based on nine million true stories”.  The film tells the story of Alejandro, a Mexican who is surprised to find that his border-crossing journey into America will not only involve unexpected company but the very person he thought he was leaving behind.  In contrast to films with related subject matters, “La Línea” notably takes a more lighthearted approach to telling a story of illegal immigration whilst still dealing with some of the heavier issues raised by such a story. The film has also been selected to play at the Nantucket International Film Festival and the New York Latino International Film Festival.

You can catch these nine shorts at the DC Shorts Showcase #1 on Thursday, September 8 at 7:00 PM at E Street Cinema, on Sunday, on September 11 at 11:00 AM at Artisphere, or on Tuesday, September 13 at 9:00 PM at E Street Cinema.

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The People of DC Shorts: Savannah Bailey

Posted on August 8, 2011 by dcsblog

Savannah Bailey

Savannah Bailey is a rising junior at American University, where she is studying business with a specialization in marketing.  In West Palm Beach, Florida, her home, she attended an arts high school where she studied film.

Savannah has made films that have been accepted into film festivals, which is what led her to interning at DC Shorts.  While she no longer sees the film industry as a career path as she once did, film remains a love of hers and she has no plans to stop attending film festivals.

Her post-college interests are in marketing consulting, strategic communication, or advertising – the reason she is the marketing intern.  Savannah is really enjoying doing the guerilla marketing work for DC Shorts and all of the experience that comes with it.

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FILMMAKER INTERVIEW: AMOS POSNER, WRITER AND DIRECTOR OF “PERSPECTIVE”

Posted on August 5, 2011 by dcsblog

By Zander Sirlin

Via e-mail I got in touch with New York filmmaker Amos Posner to discuss his short film “Perspective”. “Perspective” is the second of three short films Posner has made.

“Perspective” follows a couple breaking up as they conclude their lunch in a café. As the pair talks they completely ignore a series of violent and chaotic events surrounding them. The woman thinks her life is over, but for the other diners this may actually be true.

The film cleverly puts things into perspective, humorously displaying how life could be worse.

What first got you interested in film?

I always loved movies, but never thought about them critically until I got to the University of Wisconsin and accidentally became a film critic for the campus paper, The Daily Cardinal. I actually set out to be a music critic, but found it easier to break into the arts page reviewing movies no one else wanted to see. Spending time really thinking about what worked and didn’t got me hooked, and set me down a road of film studies, internships, work, and making some little movies of my own.

Is there any real story/person(s)/event(s)/etc. that inspired the making of your film?

Around the time I wrote “Perspective”, several couples I know were splitting. Seeing so many young people independently feeling like their breakups were the end of the world inspired the parody. The clown is almost certainly, on some level, revenge for the clown getting shot in Passenger 57, which I think is one of the most under-appreciated moments in cinematic history.

How would you describe your background in film? What education or experience do you have in filmmaking?

I studied film as an undergrad at UW-Madison. It’s a great program for theory and history, especially. Most of my real education in film has come from working though. I’ve interned for production companies, worked as a script reader and development assistant, and worked on set in various capacities (including as a costume assistant on a big budget Bollywood feature). I’ve also worked on my ability to direct actors by taking acting and directing classes at the HB Studio. Writing and directing shorts, though, has been the most intense and humbling education.

What advice do you have for students interested in attending the same school?

However you go about studying film, you need to supplement it with the pieces you’re missing. If you go somewhere like UW that’s great for the academic side of film, it’s important to get out and actually make movies.

How would you describe the film scene in New York?

New York is in transition when it comes to film. A lot of jobs dried up as boutique studios closed shop or moved. But there are always studio features and shows shooting here, and it’s an interesting time for small, independent features. There are also a lot of great actors and crew people here who are really hungry to show what they can do.

How has New York impacted your film or filmmaking?

On a practical level, being from New York has allowed me to learn and grow because there’s so much happening here when it comes to production, actors, and crew. Aesthetically, being a native of the city gives me a slightly different viewpoint than all the transplants here. I also think the busy nature of life here informs my work a lot. Even in quiet moments here, you’re aware of the millions of busy people scrambling around you, and I think that probably shows up in my work.

Who or what do you cite as major inspirations for your work? 

Tough question. Everything from “Calvin & Hobbes” to “The Simpsons” to Michael Chabon and John Steinbeck to Billy Wilder and Wes Anderson enriches me and makes me feel passionate about making things, but I can’t honestly tell you what exactly inspires my work. It’s hard for me to know what seeps into my efforts. It’s a better question for somebody else. I love “The Wire”, but could anyone tell by watching my work? I doubt it. But obviously, again, the clown from Passenger 57: profound influence.

How would you describe your filmmaking process?

Intensely collaborative. Some directors can write alone, then serve as their own director of photography, producer, editor, composer, and publicist. I can’t. Not only do I need collaborators with strong skills, but honestly, that’s part of the fun for me. Working with people who can do things I can’t is a luxury. Solving problems in both storytelling and technical areas can be deeply fulfilling.

What technology/programs did you use to make your film?

We shot on a Panasonic HPX-170, edited in Final Cut Pro, did the color correction in Color, and did the sound mix in Pro Tools.

What was your film’s budget? How was it financed?

Off the top of my head, I don’t recall the final tally. It was self-financed. We had our two dozen background actors working for free, many of them good friends, which helped. We needed insurance, which hurt. Our insurance did not cover a mishap with the restaurant’s canopy, which hurt more.

Did you make the film for anyone in particular? What audience did you have in mind?

I think I made the movie for the same people who inspired it: the young people who don’t have enough perspective to get past non-life changing events. Of course, I also made it for myself, as a chance to explore some ideas I wanted to work on.

Do you have any advice for aspiring filmmakers? Anything for people from your area?

Do everything you can to learn and grow. There are so many pieces that go into filmmaking. But like anything else, you also have to do it to really learn it.  Textbooks and teachers or working on set can teach you a lot, but directing teaches you to direct. You can only understand the problems or learn to deal with them once you’ve met them face to face. I’ve only begun to climb that mountain myself.

Where can readers view your work and learn more about you?

Some of my work is on YouTube, some on Vimeo. People can also follow me on Twitter: @amosposner

“Perspective” is playing with eight other great short films in DC Shorts Showcase #16.

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The People of DC Shorts: Alexander Sirlin

Posted on August 4, 2011 by dcsblog

Zander Sirlin

Alexander (Zander) Sirlin  is a rising senior at Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland, where he studies English Literature and Film Studies.

Originally from Miami, Florida, he lived in Knoxville, Tennessee for a few years before moving to Northern Virginia, his home since 2000.  His interest in film and his background in writing newspaper film reviews and Film Studies essays led him to his internship with DC Shorts. As a blogger for the site, he’ll be conducting interviews with many of the great filmmakers in the festival.

After graduating, Zander intends to study business and pursue a career that may involve film.  He enjoyed working as a volunteer at the Dublin International Film Festival and appreciates the chance to be involved with another great film event.

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How to Rock DC Shorts

Posted on August 3, 2011 by dcsblog

by Joe Flood

The DC Shorts Film Festival (September 8-16) will fill the Penn Quarter with local film aficionados. It’s a great opportunity to see more 145 short films from 23 nations.

I’ve volunteered with DC Shorts Film Festival for more than six years. I’ve helped to select what films are included in the festival. I’ve welcomed filmmakers to DC Shorts and handed out goodie bags. I’ve moderated post-screening discussions and mingled with directors at behind the scenes parties.

And I’m going to tell you how to get the most out of your DC Shorts experience.

Find films with the Film Sorter. It can all be a bit overwhelming, can’t it? Technology comes to the rescue with the Film Sorter, which allows you to find films based upon genres, countries or interests. Plus, watch video previews of many films.

Get your tickets early. Screenings will sell out, particularly the prime evening times. It’s best to get your tickets ahead of time using the easy online ticketing system.

Attend a party. This year, you can choose from three different and unique parties to attend. Whether it’s a Brazilian carnival, a wax museum spectacular or H Street hipsters, you’re bound to find something that you’ll enjoy.

Get a Date Bundle. For $50, you get two tickets to any film screening and 2 two passes to a party of your choice. Date not included ;)

Vote! Unlike some festivals, the audience picks the winners of DC Shorts. Following each screening, you’ll have a chance to vote for the films that you liked best.

Stay for the Q&A. Want to know what equipment a director used? Where they get their ideas? How much it cost to make their film? See the schedule for screenings marked “Q&A”.

Get your picture taken. Damn paparazzi! There will be a small army of photographers documenting what goes on at DC Shorts, from the parties to the screenings. Pictures are then posted to the DC Shorts Flickr account.

Take the kids. While the evening shows aren’t exactly child-appropriate there are free Saturday film programs for the kids. See the schedule for times.

Attend a seminar. The Angry Filmmaker, Kelley Baker, is pissed for a reason. He thinks that Los Angeles is a cesspool and that making a movie shouldn’t cost millions. See his seminar plus sessions on software, sound design and more.

Talk to filmmakers. This isn’t Hollywood. For many of the filmmakers accepted into the festival, this is their first film. They’re recent film school graduates or people who have been working for years on a cinematic labor of love. The opening night Celebrity Party is a great place to talk to filmmakers in a relaxed setting. Also look for Q&A sessions after screenings.

Volunteer! Can’t afford a ticket? Volunteer as an usher or photographer. Volunteers get tickets to one screening plus an invitation to a private post-event thank you party.

Use these tips to get the most out of your DC Shorts experience. It only comes around once a year – enjoy it!

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Filmmaker Interview: Vicky Mather, Director of “Stanley Pickle”

Posted on August 2, 2011 by dcsblog

By Zander Sirlin

Via e-mail I got in touch with director Vicky Mather to discuss her short film, “Stanley Pickle.” Mather was recently named a “Brit to watch” by the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA).

The film follows Stanley, a twenty-year-old who lives at home with his parents and never goes outside. Stanley’s perfect wind-up world is turned upside down when he meets a mysterious girl.

“Stanley Pickle” uses a very interesting technique called ‘Pixilation’, where actors are animated as opposed to using stop-motion puppets. The short film has been touring festivals and has won twenty-four international awards.

What first got you interested in film?

All sorts of things. I knew it was the path I wanted to take after my first experience at age 17, working in the Art Department on a feature film at Ealing Studios.

Is there any real story/person(s)/event(s)/etc. that inspired the making of your film?

“Stanley Pickle” is an amalgamation of things that have happened in my own life; for example when Stanley is sitting at the table in between his parents, watching them ‘malfunction’ – that is very close to the truth!

How would you describe your background in film? What education or experience do you have in filmmaking?

I started to test animation techniques when I was studying fine art in London. I then went on to obtain a scholarship that enabled me to go to National Film and Television School to study the Animation Direction MA.

What advice do you have for students interested in attending the same school?

It’s important to be at the right stage in your life where you are willing to fully commit for two or three years and grow.

How has being British impacted your film or filmmaking?

I am from just outside of London. I’m a true Brit through and through, so I believe that definitely has an effect on my film making!

Who or what do you cite as major inspirations for your work? 

I take a lot of photographs and I draw. I enjoy being able to step out of life situations and really look at them.

How would you describe your filmmaking process?

‘Organic’ – isn’t that the worst answer ever! So pretentious…but true!

What technology/programs did you use to make your film?

Dragon Stop Motion Software, AVID, and NUKE.

What was your film’s budget? How was it financed?

It was funded by the National Film and Television School. We had to pitch the idea and go through a development process to get the money.

Did you make the film for anyone in particular? What audience did you have in mind?

I like to think my film appeals to all ages. It contains themes that I believe anybody can identify with.

Do you have any advice for aspiring filmmakers? 

Don’t be afraid to take risks.

Where can readers view your work and learn more about you?

http://www.stanleypicklemovie.com or http://www.twitter.com/vicky_mather

“Stanley Pickle” is playing with seven other great short films in DC Shorts Showcase #2.

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The People of DC Shorts: Jon Gann

Posted on July 29, 2011 by dcsblog


Jon Gann is an inveterate risk-taker. He created the first DC Shorts Film Festival with money from his own pocket, renting out a theater and praying that people would show up. Since that first year, the festival has expanded to more than ten full days of short films from around the world. It’s become the largest festival devoted to short films outside of California.

A DC native, Jon’s been involved with the local film community for years. He founded the DC Film Alliance to connect local filmmakers and festivals. If you know Jon, then you know everyone in the DC film scene – he’s the Kevin Bacon of local directors.

Pilot

Jon’s inspiration for DC Shorts came from his time traveling the circuit with his successful 2001 short film “Cyberslut,” which he made after folding his decade-old design firm and enrolling in a crash course at the New York Film Academy.  He became disenchanted with the way most film festivals tend to emphasize money, parties, and sponsors over the films and the filmmakers themselves.  When he attended the Ashland Film Festival, he felt a sense of community he wanted to see replicated in this area, leading to the establishment of DC Shorts.

When he’s not organizing filmmakers, or reviving old gameshows, he’s with his beloved dog, Pilot, in the Penn Quarter neighborhood where he lives. Look for them around the festival and say hi.

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