Archive for the ‘Misc.’ Category

UFVA 2008: Those Who Teach, Make

Sunday, September 14th, 2008

As you probably guessed, I’ve taken a little break from SRF. I wish I could say that it was a planned vacation, but a combination of travel, work on my own projects, the beginning of the school year and some crazy good life stuff meant the blogging got pushed aside.

One thing I did mean to write about was my experience at the University Film and Video Association Conference in August. For those of you that don’t know, UFVA is the professional association for professors of filmmaking, screenwriting, and film studies. This was my first time attending the conference, and it was a lot of fun. I had the chance to meet up with some old film school friends who, like me, are now teachers, and I met lots of new folks who encounter the same sorts of challenges to filmmaking that I do (among them, living in so-called flyover territory).

The conference features a mix of screenings and panels. Among my favorite panel presentations: Jennifer Proctor (Grand Valley State) who talked about teaching creativity; John O’Leary (Villanova), who discussed the practicalities of running a university-supported film lecture series; JJ Murphy, who discussed non-traditional screenwriting approaches (drawing on films like Ronnie Bronstein’s Frownland); and Seth Mulliken, who gave an awesome talk on film sound.

Of the screenings, probably my favorite film was Irinia Patkanian‘s Second Egyptian, a story of two immigrants in New York that has an amazing sense of poetic realism. For my part, I screened Quick Feet, Soft Hands, which was honored with the Jury Prize in Narrative Film. Needless to say, getting this award from my peers was a great honor.

Note: The title to this blog post is cribbed from a Scribe Video Center screening. I’ll discuss Scribe in a future post.

cicadas on PBS in New York, OR: How to Write a Press Release

Tuesday, July 15th, 2008

Because of this website, I receive press releases on a daily basis from a multitude of PR firms. It’s clear with many of them that the sender hasn’t spent more than 5 seconds thinking about the audience for this website. Some of these are pretty unintentionally funny: My favorite media alert is probably the one about a re-recording of a jingle for canned beans by a Country music recording artist. But I digress.

The point is, few notices get my attention. And even fewer do I end up writing about. When I receive a notice like the one quoted verbatim below, though, I try to act on it.

Why? Four reasons:

1) The thing being promoted sounds interesting.

2) The people that read this website might be interested in it too.

3) The thing being promoted sounds as if it could use my help as far as promotion goes. I tend to favor humble affairs, not stuff with a big advertising budget. (In case you hadn’t noticed by now.)

4) The release sounds like it was written by an actual human being. You’d be surprised at how rare this is. Or maybe you wouldn’t.

Oh yes, I’m sure Kat Candler’s email breaks all sorts of “rules” about writing press releases. But I have noticed that there seems to be a direct correlation between points #1-3 and point #4. In the end, the result is that, Candler’s email not only makes me want to see this movie — it makes me want to tell others about it.

And in my book that’s a press release that works.


cicadas 

cicadas
Screening on PBS in New York
Saturday, 7/19, 11:55pm
Sunday, 7/20, 4:25am
WNET, Reel 13
http://www.bside.com/films/cicadas

Long ago, I made this feature film called, cicadas. We shot it over the summer of 1999 in a tiny, tiny town called Bertram (population 835). We shot the film on a Canon XL1 back when mini-DV was brand spankin’ new. Over 6 weeks, Thursdays through Sundays a cast and crew trucked out to the middle of nowhere Texas to make a story loosely based on a crush I had at age 16 on a skater punk kid.

The summer of 1999 was one of the best summers of my life. We had no expectations, no grandiose ideas of making it big … we just wanted to make a feature film just to learn how to do it. And what came out of that little film was a family of friends, a super fun summer and a little movie that could.

The film went on to win some audience awards at festivals, get picked up for distribution and then dropped by distribution. And then picked up again for distribution.

If you have friends in New York who like to stay up crazy late or can record stuff to their VHS or DVD players, pass this along. It’s fun to share your heart with people. Even if it’s super rough around the edges and frayed along the hem line.

***

One other thing to note about press releases. For me, whether or not I write about something is also a matter of timing. Some days and weeks I’m slammed. Some days, a notice will come in and, if I’ve got a few spare minutes, I’ll throw something up on the web. People that are paid to blog full time probably work differently, but that’s how I roll.

As always, thanks for reading. And if you’re a filmmaker, don’t be afraid to see if I can cover your film. Just don’t be hurt if I don’t.

Links page updated

Sunday, June 15th, 2008

The links page has been updated for the first time in a few years. A few additions, a few subtractions (mostly broken links). Just a little housecleaning. Nothin’ major.

If you see something missing — please, no shameless self-promotion — let me know by posting comments.

Thx,
The Management

ps. Comments are managed, so I’ll probably just make the changes instead of posting the comment.

A New Coat of Paint

Thursday, March 27th, 2008

To overstate the obvious, there’s a new look here at SRF.

As I prepare for the premiere of my new film, Quick Feet, Soft Hands, I have been doing some re-tooling of the Lovell Films website. Since I was already spending hours digging around in web design apps it seemed like a logical time to revamp this site as well. SRF has looked the same for nearly two and a half years, which is ages in cyber-time. I, for one, am happy to see a change.

As for the content, nothing’s changed. Self-Reliant Film is the same ol’ website you know and love.

The only difference of any significance is that I’ve tried to create more of a bridge between this site and the Lovell Films site, which promotes my own film work. There was a kind of design schizophrenia going on between the two sites — they didn’t look like they represented the same person, and the links between the two were virtually hidden. The links certainly not hidden in real life — the blogger and the filmmaker are one and the same — so I’ve tried to address that a little with the nav bar at the top.

So, that’s the main difference. If you’re compelled to explore the Lovell Films site, go for it. And if not, I hope you continue to enjoy what you find here.

Ok, enough about the re-design.

Coming soon: The remainder of my long-delayed reviews of Apple Color training tutorials.

ADDENDUM: Oh yeah, one more change: You may notice that the banner of the site has been shortened from “self-reliant filmmaking” to “self-reliant film.” That’s what I call this blog, that’s what most other people call this blog, and that’s the URL of the blog. So it was time to have the banner actually use the proper name.

Take A News Break Day

Friday, February 15th, 2008

As many of you readers know, I was teaching at Virginia Tech on April 16 last year. The devastation we all felt losing people dear to us was deeply exacerbated by an invasion of a press corps whose satellite vehicles alone filled a football stadium parking lot. To say that these folks were insensitive would be an understatement. I never had any respect for the kind of journalism, especially TV journalism, that chases ambulances. But even my cynicism did not prepare me for what I saw those days.

So, in light of the Northern Illinois University shootings, I will be taking a news break today. I encourage you to consider doing the same. The NIU shootings will, no doubt, be the top headline on most news networks and websites and every click or minute spent watching gives more encouragement to these (mostly) commercial enterprises to exploit others’ pain for profit. My thoughts will be with the NIU community for today and for the days to come. But I’m not going to kid myself that viewing news reports on CNN or MTV is going to help these folks heal. But I’ll stop, because I’ve written about “pornography of the real” before.

If you must read about the shootings, I encourage you to visit Northern Illinois University‘s website, or to read the Dekalb Daily-Chronicle. In my experience last year the news sources that were most valuable were the Virginia Tech website and our local newspaper, the Roanoke Times, whose coverage was sensitive, even-handed, and comprehensive. Their coverage only (re)confirmed for me that when it comes to telling stories, place — where you come from, where you live, the people you call neighbors — matters.