Taking place on June 9th and 10th, the 6th annual New Media Film Festival embodies the transformative power of the cinematic arts and it reaches across cultural bridges to wed story and technology for everyone. The festival explores how new technology can enable and be part of storytelling for filmmakers of all types.
To find out more details about the event, we talked with Susan Johnston, Founder/Director of the New Media Film Festival, director/producer Carlos A. Hurtado, director Tristan Pope, Head of Pereira & O’Dell Entertainment Robert Lambrechts and director/producer John Stewart Muller. We discuss what attendees can expect from the event, what sort of films are being showcased, what sort of content is being produced for certain categories and plenty more.
ProVideo Coalition: What sorts of filmmakers are submitting work to the New Media Film Festival?
Susan Johnston: We have first time content creators and multiple Award Winning content creators. The great thing about New Media is it is ever evolving. Someone can create their own “camera” to capture, mash up what is in the market place and/or use the newest invention that just launched in the marketplace. I say this because Jon Kitzen, one of our award winners in years’ past actually designed and created a camera to do what he needed it to do to tell the story he wanted to tell. On the flip side, and nothing wrong with this, someone can use their mobile phone or tablet for the first time and tell a great story really well.
ProVideo Coalition: What sort of filmmaker are you?
Carlos A. Hurtado: I’m a filmmaker of all trades. I create in the light of the circumstances that are presented to me and strive to imagine a different world. Regardless of the limitations that are placed on me. A filmmaker is a creator who knows no boundaries.
Tristan Pope: The one who believes a story is a story whether it is 1080p or 4k.
Robert Lambrechts: Above all else we are collaborative filmmakers. We try and bring the best people possible to tell the story. Although we are responsible for developing the story of “What Lives Inside”, director Robert Stromberg and the visual effects was it at MPC really responsible for bringing it to life.
John Stewart Muller: I’m a writer/director with experience in commercials, documentaries, branded content, and features (most recently FLING and INDISCRETION). I specialize in performance driven narrative and enjoy long-form storytelling the most.
ProVideo Coalition: How have mobile phones, tablets and other pieces of hardware impacted the way in which films are made?
Susan Johnston: Anyone and I mean anyone that has access to these consumer products have the ability to tell a story. How they tell it and what they say will determine whether or not it is viable for mass audiences to see. Now we see more content from more countries, better content and more varied from the states. What is most exciting to me is that we have an unprecedented amount of World Premieres this year.
Carlos A. Hurtado: These devices have given me the flexibility to film at any moment when an idea is born, instead of being constricted to box. These devices have given a chance to anyone to explore and create a film within a split of a second. We no longer have to wait.
ProVideo Coalition: How have your films evolved doe to technology?
Carlos A. Hurtado: I came from the old school where film was king and along with it came a giant cost with dealing with film. With the new digital world, it has freed me to spend the money that I would have normally used to buy and develop film – to instead allocate that money towards production design and other creative aspects that can be used on screen.
Tristan Pope: Well, considering my usage of mobile devices, the footprint has definitely decreased a bunch. If anything I would say they evolve the same with all tech, maybe getting a little bit more creative or intimate depending on the equipment. Also the services I can offer change as technology changes.
Robert Lambrechts: A few years ago we were searching for an innovative way to involve the audience in the film experience. That search led to the idea of social film. Since then we’ve continued to refine the medium. With “What Lives Inside” we made it possible for the audience to submit sketches that later made up the world of the film.
John Stewart Muller: I started shooting VHS video as a kid, then upgraded to film (Super8 to 16mm to 35mm), and now shoot almost exclusively digital (Alexa, RED, Sony F55, Digital Bolex, etc.). The ability to immediately see what you’ve shot, the speed in which you can shoot, and the magic of on-set color correction are some of the major benefits of the digital revolution. It’s also amazing how easy it is to get your work out there via YouTube, Vimeo, and other online video platforms. Whether people actually watch it or not is a whole different game! Technological advances have helped make the filmmaking process easier and allows me to focus on being creative while not having to worry as much about technical issues.
ProVideo Coalition: What is the biggest problem with iPhone filmmaking and how do you fix it/deal with it?
Tristan Pope: The biggest problem is really simple, it is ourselves. When shooting on anything with limitations it is our own ability to adapt and overcome that will let that piece of equipment truly shine. We are our own worst enemies as they say, but if you look at it as not a problem and more of something to get creative with, that is the best “fix”.
The same goes for picking models, cameras, locations, software for post.
Although one unexpected problem is that is shows skin WAY TO CLEARLY. Our makeup artists had a hell of a time getting it right because of the clarity/compression (oh the irony in that statement).
Robert Lambrechts: Technology today has really helped democratize story time. Anyone with a compelling idea and an iPhone can create something that could be seen by millions of people. With social film, our goal was to Bring together amazing established films on with audience members who had an idea.
John Stewart Muller: Personally, I haven’t produced a lot of content with my phone or iPad (beyond home videos and such), but when creating projects, I definitely spend time planning how the images I capture will appear on small screens, especially since so much media is consumed on these devices.
ProVideo Coalition: What are the benefits/challenges of shooting on an iPhone?
Tristan Pope: It was a freeing experience to shoot on such a small piece of equipment. I have shot on DSLR’s and larger prosumer cameras such as the RED. They all have their benefit but the iPhone truly allowed for us to get so personal and creative with angles, locations, and intimacy.
I have shot on DSLR’s and REDS. They all have their benefit but it truly allowed for us to get so personal and creative with angles, locations, and intimacy.(I was inspired by a relationship I had where I randomly filmed clips on my phone of our days and ended up just throwing together a cute video for her when she went away for the holidays. It was intimate, cute, and very personal. I wanted this to feel the same way, but dressed differently.) To not draw crowds or make a big fuss was a huge plus. We were filming a short film and people were walking by like we were just some crazy couple in love making a home movie. This also made it hard to tell them please sign this waiver if you are going to stand there for 3 hours while we shoot, haha.
One of the biggest benefits of shooting on an iPhone is not drawing crowds or make a big fuss. We were filming a short film in multiple locations, restaurants, clothing stores, and people were walking by like we were just some crazy couple in love making a home movie. Mind you this also made it hard to explain to them if they were going to continue walking into the shot they would have to sign a release form. But ultimately it allowed myself and the actress to film as if we were in our own bubble, exponentially developing the relationship between “the boyfriend” and “the girlfriend” on film. While also allowing the creativity the room to breath with such a improvisational script.
ProVideo Coalition: Do most filmmakers see this festival as a place to showcase their work or are they vying to win?
Susan Johnston: We call anyone that has been accepted, etc., family. They get that collaboratively as a “family” (community) we help support and watch each other grow. It is integral to a filmmakers journey to immerse themselves in the experience and people that are part of New Media Film Festival, this is where you will build relationships that last a lifetime. We made it easy to do so even for the shy ones by all of the activities and programs we build into the experience.
Carlos A. Hurtado: Yes, I see this great festival as a chance to showcase my work and get feedback. I think everyone wants to win. The nomination alone is already a great honor for me. Either way won or lose, I feel a great privilege to be part of this festival.
Tristan Pope: I want to be able to share the film and all the hard work from everyone with as many people as possible. A win is just a bonus really. 🙂
John Stewart Muller: It’s always great to have your work screened for an audience. The energy in the room is so different than when people watch your videos online or alone at home. It can be a really magical experience! And while it’s great just to be part of a festival, winning definitely wouldn’t hurt!
ProVideo Coalition: What sorts of projects have you seen filmmakers move onto?
Susan Johnston: We saw filmmakers from 3D Cosmic Journey, Jon Kitzen & Nick Reed move onto helping soldiers stories from WWII breathe life again for eternity via known and yet to be created technology and we proudly watched Producer Nick Reed on stage at the Oscars when The Lady In Number 6, Music Saved My Life won recently.
John Stewart Muller: Besides my various feature film projects, I’m focused on developing and creating long-form series content. Whether my shows live online or on TV or any of the other countless platforms available these days, the joy of taking time to develop characters and cultivate an audience and fanbase are something you don’t really experience with commercials, short films, or even features (unless you make superhero movies). It truly is the golden age of television (and some of the best series out there don’t even air on TV)!
ProVideo Coalition: Tell us about your Sniplers category.
Susan Johnston: Sniplers ™ is a 30 second pitch. Think of it as a snippet of a trailer. What is very exciting about this category is that it takes great talent to engage us to understand and want more in 30 seconds. This category officially helped one Snipler filmmaker to get fully funded for his feature, now that is exciting!!
ProVideo Coalition: What sort of films fall into New Media?
Susan Johnston: A lot of people have different definitions of what New Media is. For me, it is ever evolving and encompasses all ages, all cultures, all media. Here is our definition on our website when someone is trying to figure out which category to submit to: New Media: Since New Media is an ever evolving arena, we have this category for those of you that have created something that you feel does not fit into our other categories listed. Possibly 5d, 7d, SI, Interactive, Gaming. If your creative endeavors want an opportunity to be considered for distribution and our $45k in combined prizes and this is the category you feel best fits what you created, please submit here. We accept all TRT (total running times) from 30 seconds to 2 hours in this category
ProVideo Coalition: What about SRC – Socially Responsible Content. I imagine much of the content there is going to be politically charged?
Susan Johnston: I can understand how someone would think this is a great category to be politically charged, but that is not the case. Stories have to engage, inspire, innovate the mind to think and explore all in the subtext of going on a journey. We have had storylines as intense as death row dinners to Bumblebees screening this year.
Carlos A. Hurtado: The goal with SRC is to express and explore a topic that can change lives for the better. As a director I’m there to guide this expression and the emotions involved so that the audience can feel. Hopefully it reaches to the core, which their heart.
John Stewart Muller: I directed and produced a whole series of documentaries for Buick and the NCAA which showcased athletes and their charities. It’s a great experience to be able to do what you love (making movies) and hopefully impact the world in some way by doing it.
ProVideo Coalition: And you’re going to be adding a drone category for 2016?
Susan Johnston: Yes, we are currently accepting for 2016 and Drone is our newest category. We look forward to seeing the compelling ways in which people tell stories with their drones.
John Stewart Muller: We bought a drone for our last feature and promptly crashed it into a tree! I’ve since had it repaired but need to get out and shoot more with it. Knowing there may be a drone category in 2016 might just be the incentive I need to create some awesome footage with it!
ProVideo Coalition: What sort of response do you typically get from festival attendees after the event?
Susan Johnston: That each story was uniquely different and great. But here a few specific comments…
- “New Media Film Festival brought together top-shelf, social media entrepreneurs like Joanna Drake Earl, Will Wright and the like who have been re-inventing themselves and keenly positioning their content companies for the next decade’s ways of digital, immersive storytelling.” JRG-NSCA
- The Best in New Media: What’s New, What’s Next …honoring stories worth telling. ”Makes the cutting edge accessible.”- Huffington Post
- “A new L.A-based festival has just popped up that addresses and celebrates all of the unique forms that visual storytelling can take in our new media world.”-BadLit
- “This fest proves Tinseltown’s chops…the creativity and ingenuity of film.”-Cool Hunting
- “Sundance for the Facebook Crowd.” – Culture Rehab
- “Worth the entry fee.” – Movie Maker Magazine
Carlos A. Hurtado: I get all types of feedback. The best part of festivals is getting to know new people.
Tristan Pope: It is the “apple” versus “android”, “mac” vs “pc”, Car vs Car responses every time. Either someone is so set in the ways of it having to be shot on a red that they don’t understand the reason i chose a mobile device or they are interested in knowing more so they themselves can delve into it. This is the time of the story teller with technology being so freely available.
ProVideo Coalition: Where can people go to learn more about the event?
Susan Johnston: www.NewMediaFilmFestival.com
Make sure you check out “Hollygrove – The True Life Story of Monserrat”. The film won last month at the Cannes Film Festival at the American Pavilion Emerging Filmmaker Showcase presented by American Express.