Independent VS. Independent Filmmaking

Something I have been thinking about for some time is the idea of Independent filmmaking and how it relates to all of us down here in the real world trying to make films independently.  Recently I went to a screening of the Descendants where there was a Q&A with a few of the Producers, Actors, etc. They, the producers, touted about how the film was made, as an independent, for pennies.  Pennies, my dear people is not what we consider pennies.  The Film cost 20 Million Dollars to make!!!!!  I know the definition of independent, don’t get me wrong.  I know a Studio is not backing or funding the thing, but…..  really?  We all know that having a name, a producer, or someone/thing, these days, is like having a studio attached to the show.  So, where do we stand?  What chance do we have to make an Independent film? Is there a way to create a new category for us the Independent Filmmakers trying to get into the game with limited financial / big name resources?

On the flip side it is wonderful when there is the occasional break through project that transcends the politics of it all.  A film that tells a great story and truly reflects the spirit of making a movie Independently.  To those filmmakers I thank you for all the hard work and dedication it took to make it happen.  You are really an inspiration to me and, I’m sure, many working toward the same goal. You show us that there is still room up there.

Film festivals were once the place for Independent Films to get the exposure, be shown and celebrated.  That might still be somewhat true for the limited world of the short film circuit but where does that leave the rest who are making their first, second, third, or fourth feature? Once a festival goes High Profile it’s goes the way of just becoming another publicity outlet for high profile films. Just curious as to what you all  think about all this.

What happens to film if KODAK goes away?

When was the last time you shot a project on film?  Probably been awhile.  Well it looks like the Film Legend is in it’s final days.  Geez, they are trying to make a living off of printers.  What happened?  I know they’ve been in trouble for some time and with technology going the way of the “Digital” it was only a matter of time.

In case you want to read a bit about what is happening with Kodak:

Did you know that Kodak was working in Digital Video since the 70’s? An excerpt from “History of the Digital Camera”

Since the mid-1970s, Kodak has invented several solid-state image sensors that “converted light to digital pictures” for professional and home consumer use. In 1986, Kodak scientists invented the world’s first megapixel sensor, capable of recording 1.4 million pixels that could produce a 5×7-inch digital photo-quality print. In 1987, Kodak released seven products for recording, storing, manipulating, transmitting and printing electronic still video images. In 1990, Kodak developed the Photo CD system and proposed “the first worldwide standard for defining color in the digital environment of computers and computer peripherals.” In 1991, Kodak released the first professional digital camera system (DCS), aimed at photojournalists. It was a Nikon F-3 camera equipped by Kodak with a 1.3 megapixel sensor.

History of the Digital Camera

By Mary Bellis

Interesting that they fell so far behind.

Open Forum

Another thing I would like to do with this Blog is get honest thoughts from those working in the trenches.  One thing I know from working under in  the bureaucratic world of education is that, sometimes, you just can’t say what’s on your mind.  Relationships, egos, job security, perception, all work against the freedom of expression and, by default, leave you and the place where you are working in a state of stagnation. This is just the way thing are and not much can be done to change it.  Who wants to stir the pot that much and be left with having to take care of the whole kitchen?  I’ve also been witness to times when a lone voice cries out for change.  The Mob rallies behind and then, guess what, the warrior is sent into battle without reinforcements.  A, sometimes, sneaky way of thwarting further rebellions from the pack.  All this is fine and good.  It is what it is.  It’s part of the system and, if the majority are content with the status quo then it’s good for all.

Film school is different.  In order for a film program to provide the education and resources necessary to compete you need to constantly evolve.  In order to do that everyone needs to participate in building a better course for all.  Just like making a movie, teamwork, open discussions, and action will ensure growth.

What I would like to offer is an opportunity to speak the mind.  How would you make your place of work better?  What elements of your film school, whether you are Faculty or Student, work and what would you consider to change?  Don’t leave your name.  Don’t mention your school.

For me collaboration is key to everything.  I am always looking for ways to better my film school and welcome any and all comments about your experiences.

Bring it!

Film School Basics

Our New Logo

Why am I doing this? What do I know about this?  I’ll tell you.  One year working at a film workshop program, three years teaching at a top liberal arts school, 12 years running my own film program, and 15 Years working and teaching at one of the top graduate film schools in the country.  Having that varied experience at these different institutions, I think, makes me realize one thing…this can all be done differently.  What do I mean by that?  Well, that’s why I started this and will continue until my entire thought is processed.  Every program has pluses and minuses.  Each has something it does great. Some have great instructors, some great facilities, great marketing, great curriculum, but none have been able to take the best of what is out there and been able to weave it all together.  I’m not saying it can be done but I do think it can be something that we should be strive for.  I’ve seen the good and want to bring the good forward.  But what will it take?  How can it be done?  One thing I do know for sure is this… Eliminate Bureaucracy!  Too many cooks in this arena is the worst thing that can happen to a film school.  But that is something I will cover later.  This is just the beginning.  In the end my actions will speak much louder than this page.  The school I have been running for the past ten years is a testament to my quest for a program that offers students an experience that provides a complete and seriously productive filmmaking environment.  Where I go from today is what excites me.