by Ryan Uytdewilligen
Arguably the more subtle creative side of the film industry, indie films just aren’t often seen because of distribution problems or simply lack of funding. You beg and plead to raise money that many times just doesn’t follow through. You set out on arduous journeys to find crew members who are willing to work for credit and real functioning locations that are willing to give up their space. Production can be a nightmare and trying to get the film viewed is often worse
Luckily, the indie movement in the last few decades has showcased a large percentage of these works through festivals that realize the difficulties of the process and the changing methods of the industry. While you may be scratching your head and wondering how you’re going to bring your little indie opus to life, a good start is attending VIFF’s in depth session series Totally Indie Day.
Totally Indie Day is an annual workshop held on October 7th for those looking to break into the business with their first indie flick or those looking to keep up with the current platforms and methods of the business. What you’ll find is a collection of emerging filmmakers, producers, and even studio insiders who will walk you through the process and update you on the state of industry. Split into six sessions, you have the choice to attend the morning for $75, the afternoon for $95, or the whole day (including an end of day reception) for $125.
Kicking off the day is an inside look at how distributors choose independent films through the advice of top industry players such as Ron Mann (Films We Like), Nancy Gerstman (Zeitgeist Films), and Danish Vahidy (Mongrel Media).
Presented by Capilano University, Co-Founder of Smarthouse Creative Brad Wilke will discuss his coined phrase “The Indie Gap” in the second session. This hour will look at how to bridge that gap which he has defined as the divide between filmmaking as a passion and as a sustainable career.
Other sessions include Pushing the Boundaries of Documentary Filmmaking and Rising Stars: The Top New Directors of 2016, which looks at breakout filmmakers from last year’s festival like Kevan Funk (Hello Destroyer) and Ashley McKenzie (Werewolf).
Perhaps the day’s most interesting and pertinent matter is how millennials are finding new methods and platforms to make projects. In Doubling Down: Millennial Creators Take Over, original series creators Amanda Joy and Samantha Wan take the stage to discuss their start and success with the web series Sudden Master. In today’s changing world, web series have become a new medium for young filmmakers to kick start their career in a more affordable and obtainable way. While short films unfortunately have a short life, a web series can build viewership and lend itself to creative promotion and delivery methods.
The day’s final session is a conversation with Krista Vernoff who served as head writer for Grey’s Anatomy and currently executive produces the hit Showtime series Shameless.
It’s also fitting that Totally Indie Day is presented by STORYHIVE—one of many examples of how the industry is changing to support indie artists. Any filmmaker in BC should, at the very least, have STORYHIVE in their lexicon. They’re just about the best thing going for any western Canadians looking to get support and funding for their low-budget project.
As a part of Telus, filmmakers are supported with promotion, funding, and distribution on select Telus platforms. You have the choice to pitch ideas through their site, assemble a production team, or submit projects for awards—it’s up to the public and film community to decide the winners.
So whether you’re trying to put together your first project or are a seasoned veteran trying to stay in the know, Totally Indie Day may present a few golden nuggets of movie making wisdom or connect you with someone who might be the perfect collaborator.
Indie filmmaking requires a network of connections, long hours of dedication, and most importantly, a story worth telling. Passion knows no boundaries, and thanks to VIFF’s workshop on October 7th, the boundaries surrounding indie filmmaking could disappear for you too!