It’s Friday. In honor of Friday let’s do something fun. Like watch cats take the place of dinosaurs in Jurassic Park. My friend Phil shared this on Facebook (via io9) and it made my day. Enjoy!
A few filmmakers were on WUNC’s The State of Things yesterday! We were invited to talk about Alice Fest, a festival featuring female filmmakers, and the state of women in film. It was an incredible experience.
If you missed the show live, you can listen to the conversation here. The folks at The State of Things do an incredible job. I want to be friends with all of them.
We were there talking about Alice Fest, which features female filmmakers. It starts this Sunday at 1:00 pm in the Full Frame Theater in the American Tobacco Historic District in Durham, N.C. As I mentioned earlier this week, two of my films will screen at the festival. (Read that blog post here.)
Vivan Bowman-Edwards, the creator of Alice Fest, has done a fabulous job fostering a strong community for female filmmakers. She’s been a huge inspiration to me since we met last year. I sincerely appreciate the opportunity to screen at Alice Fest and talk about my work on The State of Things.
During the conversation I mentioned Cate Blanchett’s recent Oscar acceptance speech. I tried to paraphrase it while we were on air. (Please forgive me, Cate.) I’d be remiss if I didn’t share her exact words here:
Thank you … for so bravely and intelligently distributing the film and to the audiences who went to see it. And perhaps those of us in the industry who are still foolishly clinging to the idea that female films with women at the center are niche experiences. They are not. Audiences want to see them and, in fact, they earn money. The world is round, people.
We want more women on screen and behind the scenes bringing us strong female characters. There’s good money in it. Audiences crave it. So, ladies and gentlemen, what are we waiting for, eh?
See you at Alice Fest this Sunday?
Alice Fest, the film festival celebrating films by women for everyone, will be held in Durham, N.C., this Sunday, March 9th. It is held in March to honor Women’s History Month. Two of my films, Trophy and Landfill Dogs: Behind The Scenes, will screen publicly for the first time at the festival.
Last year I attended Alice Fest for the first time. I’m thrilled to return this year with two of my own films to share. This is a delightful moment to stop and appreciate what I’ve learned as a filmmaker in the past 12 months. It’s also a chance to celebrate what my friends and I have accomplished together, often with very little or no resources.
Alice Fest is an opportunity to be surrounded by smart, like-minded women and men. To share each other’s challenges, lessons learned, and triumphs. To screen the work we’ve produced, despite all of the uphill battles.
The media has been covering “women in film” ad nauseam lately. It’s focused on the lack of women in front and behind the camera, or the depth of the female roles in film and television. To be quite honest, that noise is not uplifting nor is it surprising. But that conversation is changing. And I’m thankful for it.
Alice Fest, for example, has helped me appreciate my current reality. I’ve made the decision to stay in the Raleigh, N.C., area and make films the way that I want to make them. I tell the stories I believe in. The stories that can make this world a better place.
I’ve had my hands in every decision made on the films I’ve made. I’ve spent time being the producer, director, writer, camera operator, art director, actor, editor, distributor, and marketer. I’m thankful for these challenges because they have taught me a lot. I’ve learned a lot from my fellow filmmakers — both men and women.
None of that is by luck. It’s by design.
Festivals like Alice Fest are designing a positive future for filmmakers. I’m thrilled to be a small part of a much bigger conversation. It’s incredibly humbling, rewarding, and encouraging.
See you this Sunday at Alice Fest?
Title sequences have a lot of power. They’re the beginning of the film. They immediately set expectations for an audience.
My first title sequence was for Abandoned Allies, my first feature-length documentary film about the Montagnard people. Three friends helped me create it: Patrick Jones was my art director, Zach Abrams handled animation, and Kyle Owen created the original score. I’m really proud of what we made together. Here’s the final result:
We learned a lot working on the Allies sequence together. What information needs to be conveyed? How long can the sequence last? How does it fit with the rest of the film? What part of the sequence gets created first?
I have a sincere love for title sequences. They’re so important. Very complex pieces of art.
There’s a lot of thought that goes into the making of a title sequence. I recently finished the last episode of Dexter and found myself researching its title sequence. I found a lot of info on one of my favorite websites The Art of the Title. They covered a lot in the write up here.
The original Dexter title sequence was darker. It got changed to the one you just watched, although there are plenty of similarities. Learn more about the original sequence here.
The sequence for Dexter stayed the same through all seasons of the show. Not all of television shows keep the same title sequence through every season of the show. Check out the openings for The Walking Dead or Weeds.
This week I’ve found myself thinking about the Brewconomy title sequence a lot. Obviously we’re working on a film, not a TV show, so there will only be one sequence. It’s gotta be strong — for so many reasons.
What tone will it set? How will it fit in with the rest of the film? What will it look like? What music will we use? What graphics will be included?
We’re in the early stages of discussions as a team. I have a vision of what I want. But I want the creatives to have plenty of room to stretch that vision so they’ll have freedom to make it infinitely better. (That’s one of the great things about working with incredibly smart, talented, passionate people.)
Of course the title sequence is starting to take shape while we’re simultaneously working on the rest of our shoots, editing a rough cut, and sharing exclusive behind-the-scenes info with our Kickstarter backers. There are a lot of things to juggle as an indie filmmaker. Many moving pieces, things happening simultaneously.
But somehow we get it all done. I know it’ll be a lot easier now, thanks to more than 200 very kind Kickstarter backers. I’m a lucky filmmaker to have that kind of support.
Over the years I’ve met a lot of people dreaming about their life or career in film. We’ve had interesting conversations. I’ve noticed a theme rise from about 95% of these conversations.
A person will sit across from me and talk about the life in film they dream about. They will mention specifics about the screenplay they want to write or the film they want to shoot. Then they typically confess something like, “I wish I had the time.”
Here’s how you make the time for filmmaking. You make it a priority. And you go do it.
Here’s some truth that hurts. There will never be enough time. There will never be the right time. The only time you really get is right now.
So what are you waiting for, my friend? Get going. Pick up whatever tool you have and get to work. Even if it’s pen and paper for that script you want to write. Or a cell phone camera for your first indie film. Or the lamp sitting on your desk so you can study lighting.
The first step is always the hardest. Just start. Then continue. You’ll figure it out.
It’s a great pleasure to tell you some exciting news. Two of my short films, Trophy and Landfill Dogs: Behind The Scenes, will screen at Alice Fest! I’m so thrilled you guys!
Alice Fest is a film festival with work by women held each March in recognition of Women’s History Month. It will take place on Sunday, March 9th, starting at 1:30 p.m., at the new Full Frame Theater in the American Tobacco District in downtown Durham, N.C.
These two short films were experimental for me as a filmmaker. Trophy is the first fiction film I’ve written and produced, first time working with a director on something I’d written, and first time running craft services. Landfill Dogs: Behind The Scenes is the first time I’ve shot, edited, and released a documentary made entirely on an iPhone. I learned so much from working on these films.
I’m incredibly grateful to all the folks that helped me make these short films. It’s a wonderful thing to share them at a festival, especially one as welcoming and intimate as Alice Fest. I’ll be sure to write about the experience here, in case you won’t be able to join us.
When I attended this festival last year I learned why it’s called Alice Fest. It’s in honor of Alice Guy-Blaché, one of the first film directors. She made more than 700 films. You can learn more about her on the Alice Fest website here. Robert Redford is executive producer of a documentary in progress, which I shared on this blog last August here. The following video is also an incredibly helpful introduction.
Alice is one impressive woman. I’m thankful for the introduction to her through Alice Fest. Not to mention the introduction to many other incredible women in film, living and working right here in the Triangle.
I can’t wait for Alice Fest 2014!
Last year I fell in love with Landfill Dogs, a photographic series by Shannon Johnstone. She was my professor when I attended Meredith College. So in May 2013, I wrote a blog post about it to (unashamedly) share her work with anyone willing to listen.
Since then Shannon’s fan base has grown! It makes me SO ridiculously happy that her photos have been highlighted by Mashable, Buzzfeed, Picture Correct, HLN, N&O, HuffPo, Today, Yahoo!, ABC, and WNCN. It seems there are a lot of us falling in love with her work, what it stands for, and how it’s making a huge difference for these sweet animals.
Not to mention how we, as fans, can share her work with others. The simple act of sharing her photos can help Shannon continue making a difference. It directly translates to finding loving homes for the dogs. It makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. I love it so much!
The timing of Landfill Dogs, the blog post about the project, and my continued filmmaking education was pretty impeccable. At the time, I was in the midst of trying to make the process of making a documentary faster, easier, and less expensive. So I was studying and experimenting with iPhone filmmaking. (Related blog posts about that can be found here, here, and here.)
So I reached out to Shannon, asking if I could follow her on a shoot one day. She was kind enough to oblige. I brought nothing with me but a standard iPhone 5. It felt weird to travel so lightly to a shoot.
We walked up the landfill, talking, and watching Molly (the sweet dog hugging Shannon in the picture below) bounce around. Shannon shared some of the reasons why she stared working on Landfill Dogs. It was a great day.
Afterwards I edited the footage together on my iPhone to continue the experiment. How much could I do with JUST an iPhone? Turns out, you can do quite a bit.
What I’d like to share with you now is the final result of the iPhone filmmaking experiment, Landfill Dogs: Behind The Scenes. It is a short documentary about Shannon’s work — shot and edited completely on an iPhone 5. Take a look, share your comments, and pass it on to friends if you wish. Here’s hoping it’ll find more sweet animals a loving home.
Without further ado, here’s Landfill Dogs: Behind The Scenes.
If you’re new here, welcome! It’s great to meet you. I’m Camden — an indie filmmaker who likes to make documentaries and comedies. I especially love sharing stories about inspiring people like Shannon.
Right now I’m in the midst of a Kickstarter campaign for my next documentary titled Brewconomy. It’s about the people behind the craft beer movement in North Carolina — specifically how they’re positively impacting the state’s agriculture, community, and economy. Stop by the Brewconomy Kickstarter campaign and learn about my newest film. Become a backer to follow along with the production!
Special thanks to Shannon, Lynn, and Molly. Lynn was Molly’s foster mom until she got adopted almost immediately after being photographed by Shannon. I’m so grateful to all three of them for allowing me to make this short, experimental documentary film.