Friday, July 12, 2013

Sundance Shorts Lab: N.Y.C.

For more info, please visit: Shorts Lab: N.Y.C.
Attending. Will take lots of notes and report back.

I'm writing an addendum now, Christmas 2013.  What was supposed to happen was that I deliver a write up regarding my findings in a nice white paper format.  Not gonna happen because:
A)  I have a book on writing white papers I haven't gotten to yet and I don't wanna deliver an irrelevant mash-up (which I may be doing anywho).
B)  I finally got to this date in the blog migration today.

Here are the takeaways as I recall them:

1) Sundance gets anywhere from 4000 to 8000 submissions a year.  Approximately 80 get screened.
2) They promise that no lobbying tactics work.  Maybe they'll look at a film twice.  My guess is that one film watched twice against 7000 other submissions really would stand out.
3) The films they provided as example of previous winners involved 
- a stunt woman and a really expensive bear costume, 
- another with 2 named and familiar actors and musical sequence involving a school band, 
- another regarding a day in the life of a girl living in around Bay Ridge, Brooklyn (production value involved a club scene, a night scene at the beach), 
- a film showing a couple making love with a voice-over about parent's divorcing (think the motivation behind Gosling's character in Blue Valentine), 
- and one film taken in south Africa about Somali Pirates (everything xenos is huge production value, also a well placed aerial tracking shot alongside a boat garnered a big audience wow only for us to find it came from getty images).  
Outside solid production work (sound, lighting, framing, performances and editing) the themes weren't complicated, mostly were engaging based on craft, not emotion (things like cutting on action motivate the eye and compel the viewer to keep watching, that's how many of us get caught up on reruns: physiological vulnerability to the mechanics of cinema).  However the respective visions were clear and concise and interesting.
I think getting a clean story out of the work is the goal.  Content is anyone's guess but you get a sense that there is a standardized tone.  No one is doing anything too controversial.  3 of the 5 mentioned implied sex or showed brief nudity.

The most important panel of the day was the Shorts to Features panel at the end.  The last 3 films I described above all allowed the filmmakers to go on and make feature films.
In this discussion short filmmaking was vindicated.  It place absolute necessity in the function of crafting short productions together in being able to discuss future work with production entities.
Moreso did it reveal to us as well as the filmmakers that not knowing what came next was a near detriment.  They were expected to have feature ideas available during their meetings at different festivals.  The presumption was they were prepared to keep working.

The other highlights of the day were as follows:
In the Actors' panel: They liked being hired for their ability.  They don't like dealing with expectations and no rehearsals.  They love rehearsal and a private space to focus on the scene during production.  Directors that can't control their crew or their own expectations, suck.
In the collaboration panel: Producers and editors defended their place in the story telling and explained they both have a personal stake in the film alongside the producer that can't be overlooked.  Often these relationships become like marriage and that long term trust has to be taken into account when you're off trying to sell your idea.  Your emotional and intellectual character need to be in order because what you're really doing is asking for people to deal with you for a few years.  If you can't commit and keep your head on straight for the majority of the projects you'll be worthless to everyone and a waste of time and resource.

Let's get what we came for,
C.M. Sanchez III