Last week, both Slamdance Film Festival and Sundance Film Festival announced their exciting 2017 feature film competition lineups. This week, both followed up those initial reveals by rounding out their full festival programs with the unveiling of their much anticipated short film and special screening lineups. Dozens upon dozens of both new and familiar names and their films (including Indie Street Film Festival Favorite Jim Cummings, director of this year's narrative short winner "Thunder Road") will be making their way to Park City next month. Indie Street can't wait to see the crop of talent that blossoms out of what looks like another amazing launch to the festival season and new year! Check out the full lineup of shorts for Slamdance Film Festival and Sundance Film Festival and get ready for an onslaught of new narrative, documentary, off the wall, and animated talent!
Walking down Main Street of the Sundance film festival this year, it felt like there was an ever-growing gap between the east and the west side of the street. Hollywood and Independent seem to be growing further and further apart, making the Sundance film festival, and other L.A. hyped festivals like it, such an increasingly awkward phenomena. You have a festival director who wants to keep the slate as Independent, fresh, and intriguing as possible, an audience that attends who has come to expect way more “accessible” stories, and big biz owned media companies like Variety claiming the festival “suffered from too much Brooklyn” and squawking at 2 million dollar advance tags for indie films in today’s market. We feel for you Mr. Redford, we do…but you created this monster, and now it ‘s become a near perfect representation of the dichotomy within the film Industry. The divide: This is not an East vs. West thing, but more of a continued divide in mentality and approach to film. It is exclusivity, public relations, and celebrity versus collaboration, community building, and storytelling. Old Hollywood versus new thinkers. Creatives vs. creative exploiters. I think there is some ancient adage about a poor old man with a paint brush who grew frightened he may never be able to buy paint again if something were to happen to his even older brother who convinces the village people that the old man’s art is worth money. If there is no adage, then now there is. The artist and the thinker are inherently self-critical and the Hollywood older brother is inherently opportunistic. Ah’ the parties: As this is more of a state of the industry post and not a review of the actual films we saw, I think it is appropriate to tell a story of this microcosm within the microcosm. I was able to attend a few LA parties and a few non-LA parties, and from my vantage point, the two settings were effortlessly distinguishable. In the same evening we attended: At Party One: A writer/filmmaker engaged me and got me excited about new methods of audience building he had executed that I had never even considered. I offered him some biz techniques that were working for us at IndieStreet. Awesome for us. At Party Two: After a quick intro, a girl yells out to me that they were just at a party and Aaron Paul was there. Awesome for you. She then stared waiting for a reaction or possibly a one-up name drop. So I yelled over the pumping bass, “I was just at a party with Zack Lieberman Betchhhh. (the filmmaker I had met earlier) The girl laughed at the Jesse impression, and assumed that my name drop was of some Hollywood celebrity that she just didn’t know yet. She didn’t ask who he was, because guess what, she didn’t care. And this woman is not at all representative of the creative capital in Hollywood, but is representative of the focus of Hollywood. Get the masses salivating about names and exclusivity and make that money. 3 conceivable paths from the growing divide: At Sundance, there was panel after panel of NY and SF and other natives discussing how to navigate a sustainable career as an artist and new ways to own your product through distribution. In opposition to this progressive think tank atmosphere, the LA crowd was sending out fluff about how wow they can’t believe how low the sales were this year. Indie filmmakers better start making more relatable films they said (films that they can sell to their mass markets). God forbid an artist tells a story in their true voice that may only relate to (and knock the socks off of) 200,000 people and the content creator make the majority of the revenue from the film’s exploitation. That’s not good business for the west side of main street. So with this continuing divide comes a few crossroads, and many individual choices will determine the aggregate path of Indie film, with SunDance as a small but representative piece. Here are three paths (or some combo of the 3) that could arise from the growing gap in philosophy. 1. Big Brother reels Independent back into a headlock, leaving Indie with a continued Identity crisis. This path would be driven by Hollywood’s acquisition of progressive production & direct-distro companies. Money talks, and if this occurrence is too prevalent in the near future at least a few amazing films will not be made that should be. 2. A new breed of middle ground filmmakers arises to fill the gap created by the divide. If the most talented of story tellers keep pushing the envelope, their stories will continue to slowly lose mass appeal. This combined with studios continuing to opt for lower risk epic franchises might create a new more clearly defined space for soft Indie products. Films with Indie feel that have formulaic stories. Old stories wrapped in hip new boxes: the middle child that isn’t as tough as the older one, and isn’t as smart as the youngest. 3. The most talented Indie filmmakers change their philosophies. Realigning goals away from the traditional “Success = Hollywood recognition” and toward more self or group reliant success routes. We know that it is nearly impossible to not get sucked in when there is an opportunity for mass exposure. Creating a film that is finally getting some type of official stamp of approval is something we all yearn for, but if the goals when beginning your project can shift, the landscape and power of big brother will shift with it. If you center the goals around building an audience that will care about and support your future career, then the fantastical aura of Hollywood will lose its luster. A true storyteller will be at the happiest (=most successful) when they can personally see and experience his/her impact on their audience. The more new talent that finds the courage to give themselves that stamp of approval and take some control of distribution, the less reliant the Independent community as a whole will be on their older brother who really just doesn’t share the same interests. Based on the risk-taking films at Sundance and the energetic bursting of forward thinking companies like Tugg, Heretic Films, Seed and Spark, Big Vision Empty Wallet, Candy Factory Productions and many others we had the pleasure of meeting, we are all smiling wide on the sidewalk of IndieStreet; gazing toward the west with a subtly confident smirk (that Hollywood will hopefully confuse as growing insecurity) - Jay Webb, IndieStreet www.indiestreet.com @indiest_films
Will the signature be in yellow??? All jokes aside, Shelley Jackson has a very unique story telling style. Even if it is a bit hard to follow (read backwards on her Instagram feed), her creativity and dedication is unquestionable. Her first piece was via tattooing words on skin, this edition is written in snow, we are probably following her to follow her storytelling techniques (what's next?) than we are following her actually stories.
Visit the Street Stories WebSite…. where Depaul UK helps young people who are homeless, vulnerable and disadvantaged. In the new project 'Street Stories', Rob Dabank of BBC and some famous Street artists depict the stories of some of the homeless youth. You can buy some amazing screen prints from the artists to help ensure that their stories don't end up on the street.
Louie Psihoyos' follow-up to his academy award-winning documentary promises to 'change the way we understand issues of endangered species and mass extinction.' Premiering at this Years Tribeca Film Festival on April 25th, Psihoyos declares that "We’re going to give people happy tears and yet everyone will be on the edge of their seats. I still can’t believe we’re doing what we’re doing. The last four years we’ve been creating a film that I want people to throw down their hard earned money and feel it’s the best money that they ever spent." They were still shooting footage just a week ago, which is really the type of perfectionist passion and disregard for timelines that we should expect from a great documentarian.
French Artist, Alexandre Monteiro (Hopare), has utterly dope style with a visionary use of colors. We love it.
El Mac's mastery of spray paint is unparalleled in our opinion. His portraits exude genuine depth and sincerity; truly larger than life. Check El Mac's spraypaint gallery, and if you have a chance to see any of El Mac's artwork in person, Indie Street highly recommends it!!
Drinkify.org is an easy to use search tool to send you a recommended drink depending on the musical artist you are listening to. Our favorite to date is the Snoop Dogg, Gin & Juice with a twist (lemon and wheatgrass) You know Snoop is on the health tip, just quit smoking weed yesterday!
Are you a freelance creative but in between jobs? Creative Cares is a Non Profit Organization that connects designers, Indie filmmakers, photographers, and artists to Non-profits in their community that can benefit from their craft. Not only will they connect you with something you feel is a worthy cause, you will probably make some connections with amazing individuals who will want to promote your awesome work (and heart) to others they know. You Win, an NPO wins, and society wins.
Apparently no elder ever told artist Hong Yi these words, or at least she didn't listen. This Malaysian architect/artist, also known as "Red", is a multi media self-challenger who seems to think nothing is off limits when it comes to creative expression. Check out all of her works at her site...one of her most viral pieces, shown below was her painting of basketball star Yao Ming that she painted using a basketball as a brush.
Stanislav Petrov. Few people know of him... Yet hundreds of millions of people are alive because of him. Many independent films aspire to tackle macro-society issues and intimate human relationships within the same story, but it typically results in over-exposition or a muddy story with underdeveloped characters. "The Man Who Saved the World" succeeds in touching the audience with an important societal concern, while also developing the connective tissues to make us feel for a raw, flawed human being. For this, we thank the director, Peter Anthony, and attending producers, Mark Romeo & Christian D. Bruun. With only a few minor areas of over emphasis on story elements (we assume simply to give this well crafted film more widespread impact), this Doc/Drama could not come more highly recommended from Indie Street.