Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Countdown to VFF10...T-Minus 72 Days

Eye Candy for Filmmakers!
Since Friday night (AKA, T-Minus 76 Days) we've been on a VFF10 high!

On Friday, we watched short films for a 2nd (and, in some cases, a 3rd) time, made sure we were up to date with our #FF on Twitter, and started kicking around themes for this year. More on themes later.

Saturday included a marathon of feature films - four 60-minute documentaries, two 90+ minute narrative features, and two 30-minute short films that were submitted as features. Oy. At the same time, we had someone on Twitter, another pimping out Video Symphony on our blog, briefly discussed our 3D panel idea, and got our monthly newsletter over to the editor.

Y'know, we assign a tracking number to films for a reason. One of the reasons being is when we start weeding through films, we reference the screening notes. On Sunday, we found a handful of screening notes without any reference number, and we also found a submission that had notes, but no tracking #. Oops! We spent our afternoon double-checking tracking numbers!

Yesterday was productive! We got our newsletter out - the first in two months - pimped out Video Symphony's Pizza & Post on Twitter, had a three-hour short film screening session (it was the night of 20+ minute films) and received three packages of 3D glasses! 

Today we're taking a break. Sort of. We reached out to three VFF alumni to interview for the blog, immediately heard  back from two, and are hoping to have a filmmaker profile up right after Labor Day. If there's a filmmaker you want us to profile, let us know.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Pizza & Post: Emmy-Nominated Editor Jon Corn

Join our friends at Video Symphony for another Pizza & Post event with editor Jon Corn.

Jon Corn is a two-time Emmy nominee for Outstanding Single-Camera Picture Editing for a Comedy Series for his work on Curb Your Enthusiasm and he was also nominated for an Eddy for his editing on HBO's Entourage. Jon's other editing credits include the feature film phenomenon Bruno, NBC's Parks and Recreation, Reno 911!, The League, Big Shots, and most recently the new TV series Breaking In.

For those who aren't in the know, Video Symphony is the industry's leader in Post Production education. They provide professional quality training in Film & Video Editing, Motion Graphics, and Audio Engineering. You can find them on Twitter @VideoSymphony and @PizzaAndPost. They also happen to be pretty cool people! 

Please support the organizations that support The Valley Film Festival. Did we mention that Pizza & Post is FREE? Now we have.

Tuesday, August 31 (7-9pm)
Video Symphony
266 E. Magnolia Blvd.
Burbank, CA 91502

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Screenings, and Panels, and Parties! Oh, My!

We don't need help with the screenings, but we would love your input on panels and parties! 

While we've always had at least one seminar or round table discussion at The Valley Film Festival, it wasn't until a few years ago that we got serious about our panels. As a non-profit project of Community Partners, it was mandatory to add an educational element to the festival. We tried to start a film camp for youths from the (818), but that got too complicated, so we focused on panel discussions. Just so you know, we're really not lazy, as that last sentence may imply. Trust us, we spent a great deal of time -- about a year -- trying to figure out how we could implement a production program for kids.

VFF09 RED Seminar

We've had some great panels in the past, but this year, we're ready to delve into topical & serious discussions. This is where we need your help. We do this festival for the indie filmmaker, so we'd love to hear what you'd like to know more about.

For panels, here's what we're thinking:
  • Social Media Marketing for Filmmakers ~ Facebook, Twitter, blogs, and their kin are here to stay. Seriously, we check up on how you're promoting your film. We like to see you interact with other filmmakers and your audience. It shows that you really care about your project, and that's exactly the filmmaker we want at The Valley Film Festival. We happen to read Mashable and think it's a great source to stay informed, but there's so much more going, and an informative panel sounds like a good start. 
  • 3D for Indie Films ~ We thought 3D technology was reserved for big budget studio films. This year, we received several questions from indie filmmakers, making 3D short films, and realized we knew nothing. I mean, look, we can't even provide you a link to get more info. So, we thought gathering some smart people to talk about Animated vs. Real 3D would be interesting. What say you?
  • Crowdfunding ~ Filmmakers can now raise capital, from global fans/friends, with crowdfunding. This is the financing of the future and we're certain you'll want to know which application will work best for you. For now you can learn more via the crowdfunding wiki, and a recent interview with Gregory Bayne in Film Threat.
If we've totally missed the ball on this one, let us know. Or, if there's another, more interesting movement, out there, enlighten us. And, if you want to help put these panels together, guest moderate, etc, we're happy to have you. 

As for the parties, let the ideas flow. All of the official festival events will take place at the El Portal Theatre in NoHo, or CAP in Sherman Oaks. If you read our earlier post, T-Minus 100 Days, you'll know that our new venue, CAP Theatre, has a cabaret feel to it. We want to play up its strengths and come up with some themed events. Since we're focused on programming right now, we haven't had too many ideas, but one that comes to mind is karaoke. Good idea? Bad idea?  

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Countdown to VFF10...T-Minus 83, er, 79 Days

Last week was extremely busy for The Valley Film Festival. So busy, in fact, that we started this post 5 days ago!

An Actual Submission!
Our call-for-entries closed on Monday, 8/16, so we've been crazy busy opening packages, making sure paperwork matched the film,  contacting filmmakers for applications that weren't included, and in one case, tracking down info on a film that came with no paperwork or information of any kind. 

Logging in submissions takes time and patience. Once we receive the film, we assign it a tracking number and make sure that we note it on both the film and paperwork. Sometimes we eff up. This week we wrote down one number on the application and another on the film. We spent hours looking for, what we thought was, a lost film. Next we add the filmmaker contact info. to our Master Submission list, which, in itself, can be a chore -- half the time it takes two or three people to decipher what an email address or name is. After that, we upload the contact info into our database and, finally, send filmmakers a submissions receipt. 

The Web Designer and Web Programmer for VFF also stopped by for a meeting. Now that we have our dates, venues, etc. all in order, there's a lot or work to be done updating the website.  As you can see, our main image and menu are a mess! Our priorities before we announce our program are: revising the festival dates (duh!) and adding our blog/social media to the menu. 

If there's a feature you'd like to see added, let us know! We love hearing from you & what it is that you want from us.

What else has kept us busy this week? Films! We're in overdrive right now...watching shorts and features every single day. Our short film screening groups met three times last week, and have already had a mega-marathon this week with more to come. We've seen some gems and we've seen some stinkers. (Filmmakers, please pay attention to your sound.) Overall, we're really impressed with the films coming in and are looking forward to programming shortly. 

Stay tuned. We hope to have our program announced by September 15th, otherwise known as T-Minus 57 Days.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Countdown to VFF10...T-Minus 86 Days

Yikes! How did it get to be T-Minus 86 days?

Anyway, we're taking a break from watching submissions (and one very active hummingbird on our patio who has been keeping us entertained for the last ten minutes) to admit we judged a book (or a film, in our case) by its cover.

This particular submission was such a mess. First, it arrived without an application. Once we did get the application, it was illegible. Next, the director informed us that there was a short film, made in conjunction with the submitted film, that must be screened with it at the festival. It was just one thing after another, so we pushed the film to the bottom of the pile.

Now that our call-for-entries has closed, we're reaching the end of the submissions, and finally discovering films that were put off to the very end.  We're happy to report, much like the hummingbird who kept us entertained, this film did too! It was well made, had excellent pace, but isn't for a general audience. If programmed, we'll have to tap into the niche market it's intended for. 

While we look forward to the challenge, take a moment to the enjoy our new hummingbird friend.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Focus On: Networking (VFF & Dances With Films Mixer)

As some fans & followers pointed out last month, we didn't have a July event.  Our summer mixer with Tribe Hollywood was canceled due to venue renovations. Have no fear, a fall TH & VFF mixer is on the books for Wednesday, October 20th.

In the meantime, we're partnering up with our friends at Dances With Films. This is truly special because after 9 years of supporting each other, programming many of the same films (w/out knowing it), and countless wine-filled nights, it's the first ever DWF & VFF mixer! Join us for mingling, martini's, and magic!

Toast to the success of the 13th DWF and the upcoming 10th VFF.

No host/cash bar.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010 @ 7:30pm
1114 N. Crescent Heights Blvd.
West Hollywood, CA
RSVP on our Facebook page or just show up & introduce yourself. 

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Countdown to VFF10...T-Minus 100 Days (sort of)

Trying to find content that doesn't consist of Top 10 lists for our blog is hard. One approach we're taking is to revisit past participants and find out what filmmakers are up to now. Another idea we have is to document the countdown to our 10th showcase of independent cinema, hence the blog title, "Countdown to VFF10". And, if needed, we have some Top 10 lists we can fall back on.

We meant to publish this post on August 4th, when it really would've been T-Minus 100 Days, but we were caught in the midst of festival issues and, so, here we are one week later. Festival operations are exactly what we'll be blogging about here -- the ups and downs, the frustrations, the victories, the amazing short film from a country nobody knew existed, the film that would've been amazing if the sound wasn't effed up, our sponsors, our volunteer staff, and more. You get the point.

Jumping right into it, one thing we didn't anticipate this year was having to find a new venue. Or, in our case, a second venue. This was an issue we faced our first and second year, and since then, we've been extremely blessed to call the historic El Portal Theatre in the NoHo Arts District our permanent home. It still is. However, thanks to live entertainment thriving in NoHo, the El Portal didn't have five consecutive days to house us. In fact, four days wasn't even possible! We took what was available -- three days in the middle of the week -- and then realized that we would never be able to load in, set up, produce the event, break down, and load out in three days, and break even. 

So, in early June we started to look around for a second venue in the NoHo Arts District that we could easily transition in and out of alongside our dates at the El Portal. Sadly, for us, theater is alive & kicking in NoHo and space couldn't be found. A number of people suggested that we follow the lead of many festivals and head to Downtown L.A. We wouldn't think of it! We're not called The Valley Film Festival for nothing. Our roots are in the (818) and we're staying put. We also looked into making it a "traveling" festival this year, with stops in Canoga Park, Van Nuys, Sherman Oaks, etc. Logistically, it would've been a nightmare. But we like the idea and may turn our monthly Focus On: events into traveling showcases. After six weeks of contacting every live theater space, every movie theater, every film lab, our spirits were down and hope was almost lost.

Then, at the end of July, thanks to the power of Google, and one helpful mother, CAP Theatre in Sherman Oaks was discovered. The festival producers went in first to check out the space. It's not a traditional screening room and has more of a cabaret or 1960's coffee house vibe to it. And, with only 150 seats, it accommodates a lot less people. But the bohemian feel, small bonus rooms, and an outdoor patio got the stamp of approval. Not to mention, the crew at CAP are awesome! Next, the tech staff came in to check out the screen, projection equipment (HD!), and sound. There were some minor issues that were worked out and tech gave its nod to move forward. This week, we've been going back and forth with the contract. But, we're happy to report, all is well on both the El Portal and CAP front, and we're looking forward to being in both spaces!

Anyway, we're counting down to our 10th year. It's a big deal! In a year where a number of film festivals have taken a hiatus, we're celebrating.We hope you'll join us November 11-14 in the (818)! 

Thursday, November 11, 2010
El Portal Theatre: 5269 Lankershim Blvd *NoHo Arts District

Friday, November 12-Sunday, November 14, 2010
CAP Theatre: 13752 Ventura Blvd.*Sherman Oaks