Launched: The New Self-Reliant Film.

If you're looking at this website in anything other than an RSS reader you can probably tell that we've completely overhauled the website. Thanks to our wonderful designer friends at Nathanna, we've both expanded and simplified the Self-Reliant Film website.

As we mentioned a few weeks ago, our new look is based on some new directions for the website.

Today, with the launch of the new site you can do a few things that you couldn't do before:


Sign up for the email list. Our new email newsletter will have exclusive content we don't put on the blog. We’ll share tips on great films we’ve recently discovered, we'll provide some extra filmmaking tips, and you’ll get access to see our films for free. The newsletter is only sent once a month, we never sell or share others’ email addresses, and it’s ad-free. Subscribe!


Watch our films: Some folks that visit this site do so because they're fans of our films. Others visit the site because of the blog. If you've not seen our work, or you want to see our films again, or you want to see more of them… we've spelled out all the ways to watch.

The easiest and least expensive way is to sign up for the email list. But there are other ways, too. Find out more here.

Must reads: Look to the sidebar on the left. These are a few of the most popular posts on the site. Check them out if you're new here or if you've not read these. The Declaration of Principles was the first post on the blog, and it's still pretty much as relevant today as it was when it was drafted in November 2005.


Resources: If you click on "Resources" (look to the upper left of this page) you'll see some of the more helpful pages we've assembled for filmmakers (and everyone) since beginning the site. Over the coming weeks we'll be updating and expanding these pages.


Submission guidelines: We've always received emails from readers wanting us to watch and/or review our films. This has been done pretty much catch-as-catch-can in the past. We finally drew up some ideas about how to do this, as seen in the sidebar on the left. We want to review and put a spotlight on great films more than we've been able to recently. This is a way to encourage this. Click on the Submission Guidelines and and let us know if you've got a film you want us to watch.


What hasn't changed?


Our blog still features all the same stuff that we've championed and discussed from the beginning -- DIY, regional, and personal filmmaking. We've moved it to, so update your bookmarks.

(If you bookmarked an old page from the blog it should automatically redirect to the new permalink structure, but if you encounter a broken link, let us know!)  

Finally, one other thing that hasn't changed: This site is still ad-free.

For us, self-reliance has always gone hand in hand with the idea of simplicity. While filmmaking is a vocation that often resists even our attempts to simplify the process of making movies, we feel the least we can do, sometimes at least, is keep our tiny corner of the internet quiet from flashing banners, pop-ups, and google ads buried within our own reflections. This website, like our films, continues to be a labor of love.

We hope you like the new site, and the things to come. If you do, spread the word by sharing with a friend by using facebook, twitter or, you know, by actually telling someone about it face-to-face.

Touring the South(s)

Ashley and I have been on the Southern Circuit Tour of Independent Filmmakers for a week now. As I type these notes, we are driving on I-55, heading from Memphis to a screening tonight in Jackson, Mississippi. The program we are screening on this tour have been appropriately packaged together under the title "Southern Stories." The two fictional films (Gina, An Actress, Age 29 and Quick Feet, Soft Hands) were shot in Knoxville, Tennessee, and the documentary (For Memories' Sake) is a portrait of a woman who's lived in a rural area outside Nashville all of her life. The cast and crew for these films is largely drawn from the areas in which they were shot.

Charleston Guest House

So, while there is a truth, and a convenience, in advertising the films as "Southern Stories", I'm also ambivalent about labeling them this way. I have long believed that the South is not a monolithic place, except in American mythology, but that there are, instead, many Souths.

Visiting the three places we've screened so far -- Johnson City, TN, Charleston, SC, and Memphis -- has driven that home in dramatic fashion. I can't remember touring three cities in such short succession that are more different in their cultural, racial, economic, and geographic diversity.

So, calling our films "Southern Stories" tells a half-truth, in a way. Southern, yes. But which South?

And yet, while only our audience in Johnson City might have recognized the physical landscape represented in our films as their own, audiences in all three cities have responded to the films warmly, even with a sense of ownership. Many individuals at our post-screening conversations on the tour have told us how they felt connected to the regionalism of our work in ways that they normally don't respond with films.

As just one example, film critic Jon Sparks (who moderated our Q+A in Memphis) began the conversation by warmly speaking of the "grit" and "texture" of our films as capturing some essential element of the South. We took this, of course, as an incredible compliment… and yet as he said this I wondered, Is there anything that defines all of the South?

"Southern" is a complicated word, loaded with historical connotations and pervasive stereotypes. As anyone who's spent time here knows, some are more true than others.

If pressed to name some unifying element of the South -- that is, a thing that can tie together places as diverse as Johnson City, Charleston, and Memphis -- I suppose I would say that these places, and the people that inhabit them, have a shared marginality. Regardless of race, class, or creed, everyone here is looked down upon by someone. There's usually always someone above you, if you're a Southerner.

I'll probably change my mind tomorrow about these things. We've still got eight cities to go and many Souths to explore. Tonight, it's Jackson.

SRF on the Southern Circuit Tour of Independent Filmmakers

During the month of March, Ashley and I will be screening our films in eleven cities throughout Southeast as part of the Southern Circuit Tour of Independent Filmmakers. We will be screening Gina, An Actress Age 29; Quick Feet, Soft Hands; and For Memories' Sake. Southern Circuit is a long-running program of SouthArts (formerly the Southern Arts Federation). As described on their website, "Southern Circuit is the nation’s only regional tour of independent filmmakers." The program is supported by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, with other support coming from the National Endowment for the Arts. To say that we're honored to be selected and excited to screen our work this way would be an understatement.

Here are the dates and venues of our tour. If we're coming to your area, come see us. If you have friends in any of these cities, spread the word! We'll be posting Facebook invites to screenings and notes from the road to the new Self-Reliant Film fanpage.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011 - East Tennessee State University - Johnson City, TN

Friday, March 4, 2011 - Halsey Inst. of Contemporary Art - Charleston, SC

Sunday, March 6, 2011 - Buckman Performing Arts Center - Memphis, TN

Tuesday, March 8, 2011 - Millsaps College - Jackson, MS

Wednesday, March 9, 2011 - Clemson University - Clemson, SC

Thursday, March 10, 2011 - Western Carolina University - Cullowhee, NC

Friday, March 11, 2011 - Center for Doc. Studies @ Duke Univ. - Durham, NC

Monday, March 14, 2011 - Capri Theatre - Montgomery, AL

Wednesday, March 16, 2011 - Manship Theatre - Baton Rouge, LA

Friday, March 18, 2011 - Arts Council of Central Louisiana - Alexandria, LA

Wednesday, March 23, 2011 - Lucas Theatre - Savannah, GA

Besides us, this year's Southern Circuit includes tours by Alex Karpovsky, Jenny Abel, and Kimberly Reed, among others. You can read more about all the filmmakers here. For our tour page on the SouthArts website, click here.

Quick Feet... on PBS World - July 9.


On July 9th my short film Quick Feet, Soft Hands will be on nearly a hundred PBS stations across the country, including stations in New York, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Dallas/Ft. Worth, and Boston. If you've not already seen it, tune in or set your DVR. Many stations are playing it three or four times throughout the day.

To determine if it will be broadcast in your area -- and, if so, which PBS station (many cities have multiple streams) -- you can click here and enter your zip code.

Another way is to check is to look at this listing of all PBS World stations. If your city is listed here, then look at that station's local listings for July 9. Almost all of these will be doing the broadcast.

Here's the trailer from 2008, when it was about to begin playing on the festival circuit.


How to make a screenings map with Google

After my recent post, which mapped out the past and upcoming Quick Feet, Soft Hands television screenings, some folks at ITVS asked if I wouldn't mind sharing how I made the map so that they could encourage other filmmakers they work with to do the same. Though I'm far from the first person to do this sort of thing, I was, of course, happy to oblige. It's a great way to visually communicate with your audience about when and where they can see your work.

How to create a screenings map using Google Maps:

1) You'll need a Google account, like a Gmail account. If you don't have one, sign up for one.

2) Once you have logged into your Google account, go to Google Maps.

3) In the upper left hand corner, click on "My Maps", then click on "Create new map."

4) A new window area appears on the screen.

Title the map, and describe it. Obviously, you can make this map for TV screenings, festival screenings, a theatrical release, whatever. For my television screenings, here's what I wrote:

"Quick Feet Soft Hands" TV Screenings Upcoming and past screenings for "Quick Feet, Soft Hands."

In some cases, the film will be showing on multiple streams (i.e., regular and Hi-Def), so double-check with your local listings to confirm the details listed here.

If the film is not available in your area, contact your local station to request it.

To find your local station, visit:

For more information on "Quick Feet, Soft Hands" visit: or search "Quick Feet Soft Hands" on Facebook.

5) Immediately under the text box where you'll type your description, select whether you want the map to be PUBLIC or UNLISTED. You may want it unlisted while you develop the map. Then, when you're done, make it public.

6) Now, start adding your screenings:

Begin by searching for a venue (say, a film festival or television station) in the Google search bar at the top of the screen.

a) If it shows up on the map, click on the link and a small "dialogue bubble" will appear. In that bubble click on "Save to My Maps."

Follow the prompt and select the name of the map you're creating.

Clicking "save" will make a new "dialogue bubble" appear. Here you can add information of your choosing. For my "Quick Feet, Soft Hands" map I added the screening date(s) and time(s) for each station.

This is also where you can choose the icon you prefer. I went with some blue thumbtack looking icons. There are several to choose from -- you can even make your own.

b) If searching for the venue does not produce the results you want, you'll need to add the venue yourself. Start by finding the approximate location on your map for the venue, then click on map "pin" in the upper left hand corner of the map. This will change your cursor into a "pin" which you can then place where you like.

Once it's placed, click on it again to add information. (See 6a above for instructions.)

7) As you add your venues, be sure to intermittently save your map. Saving is accomplished by clicking on the "Save" button to the left of the map.

8 ) If you haven't already done so, make your map public by selecting the "Public" radio button after it's done.

9) Finally, you need to share it! To get the URL of your map, click on the "Link" button in the upper right hand corner of the map.

This will show not only the URL for your map (which you can email to all of your fans and supporters), but also the HTML code so that you can embed the map in other web pages (like a blog).



- If you wish to allow others to edit your map, you can click on the "Collaborate" link near your map's title.

- If you wish to add other venues after later, just log into your Google account, select "My Maps", choose the map that you want to edit, and click on the "Edit" button. Remember to save your work.

View "Quick Feet Soft Hands" TV Screenings in a larger map

Quick Feet, Soft Hands: Television Screenings

A number of public television screenings have been added for "Quick Feet, Soft Hands." To help audiences track down the movie, we've created a GoogleMap (below). In some cases, the film will be showing on multiple streams (i.e., regular and Hi-Def), so double-check with your local listings to confirm the details listed here.

If the film is not yet available in your area, contact your local station to request it.

View "Quick Feet Soft Hands" TV Screenings in a larger map

Opening Day: "Quick Feet, Soft Hands" on Television

As you may know, today is the Opening Day of the 2009 baseball season. The beginning of a new baseball season is like a premiere, in a way: Anticipation. Expectations. Excitement. As a kind of tie-in, the good folks at NETA and ITVS have decided to begin offering my (minor league) baseball-themed half-hour film, "Quick Feet, Soft Hands", to public television stations nationwide this month. (It will be available after April, too.) Some stations (in L.A., Detroit, Pittsburgh, and elsewhere) have already picked it up.

If you'd like to see it broadcast in your area, call or email your station to request it! Here's how:

To find your station, click on this link to find your station, and search with your zip code. After it shows you the station, click "next" and the website will provide an email and/or phone number for the station.

When you talk with the station you don't need to make things too complicated -- just tell them how you know about the film, and why you'd like to see it.

EDIT: Known screenings are now being listed, as up-to-the-date as is possible, on the QFSH Facebook page.

IndieMemphis: Quick Feet, Soft Hands, etc.

Quick Feet, Soft Hands will be screening at IndieMemphis this weekend. If you've not seen it and you're in the area, check it out on Sunday. Sadly, I won't be able to attend. Instead I've got to run to D.C. to do some final post-production work on the Quick Feet television version, which I need to deliver to ITVS by the end of the month.

In addition to missing all the great films that IM's new festival director Erik Jambor has selected, I'm also bummed that I'm missing out on an all-to-infrequent opportunity to feast on authentic Memphis BBQ.

If this year's IndieMemphis is any indication, Jambor is going to do great things for the festival as it chugs into its second decade. Hopefully I'll be able to be there with the next one. To all that attend -- enjoy!

UFVA 2008: Those Who Teach, Make

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.

Quick Feet, Soft Hands @ the Maryland Film Festival

Quick Feet, Soft Hands will be screening at the Maryland Film Festival this weekend. If you're in the Baltimore area come on down to see it and the other amazing films in the MD FF lineup. Quick Feet, Soft Hands Showtimes:

Shorts Program: Narrative 2 Friday, May 2 @ 1:30 pm Sunday, May 4 @ 11:00 am Charles Theater 4

Among the films I'm eager to see: David Lowery's A Catalog of Anticipations, James M. Johnston's Merrily, Merrily, Barry Jenkins' Medicine for Melancholy, the Duplass Bros.' Baghead, Azezel Jacobs' Momma's Man and many others.

And I'm not even counting the films that I've already managed to see (like Nights & Weekends and At the Death House Door).

Nashville Film Festival Wrap-up

I had hoped to post some reports from the Nashville Film Festival, but a few things prevented me from doing that. First, we were staying with family that didn't have an easy-to-jump-on internet connection. And, more importantly, I was just too busy having a good time at the festival (and elsewhere). Quick Feet, Soft Hands was well received at both screenings. Unlike comedy or horror, where you might have the laughs or shrieks of an audience to gauge audience reaction reaction, with a drama like mine you get no such cues. But the Q&A after the screening helped me see that at least some audiences believe our time and efforts were worth it. There were lots of thoughtful questions and comments -- not a single "What camera did you use?" or "What was your budget?" Instead I was asked questions about the story, how it evolved, how I came to cast Jason and Greta. There were even some audience members who raised their hands to say some kind words -- no question, mind you, just a compliment. And after returning to Virginia I found that Betsy Pickle (Knoxville News-Sentinel and Scripps Howard syndicated columnist) had some nice (dare I say blurbable?) things to say in her online column. Needless to say, all of this feels good.

I'm sure there will be other things to say along the way as this film screens in different places, and in different ways. For now, I'm glad the thing is done, glad it's out there, and glad that it's beginning to find its audience.

Other films: Ashley and I did some filming in Nashville for a documentary we're working on, so I didn't catch nearly as many films as I would have liked to have seen. Of what I did see, my favorites were In the City of Sylvia, Alexandra, Profit Motive and the Whispering Wind, Voda and City of Cranes, the last two of which are short films featuring superb cinematography.

Of the features, I am particularly glad I saw In the City of Sylvia, which I caught with Darren Hughes, who drove over from Knoxville to see it for the third time (he saw it twice at Toronto). Were it not for Darren's tip I probably wouldn't have caught it -- I somehow skipped over it in my perusal of the NaFF catalog. But it's an exquisite gem of a film. A tale of a young man's attempt to track down a woman he met six years earlier, it's as if Eric Rohmer set out to remake one of his Moral Tales sans dialogue. To say anything more would probably ruin it for future viewers. So we'll leave it at that.

All in all, it was a good year at the Nashville Film Festival, premiere and otherwise. Thanks to Mandy McBroom (Shorts Programmer) and Brian Gordon (Artistic Director) for putting together such a solid festival.