Monday, August 29, 2011

A Day at Sidewalk and a Dissection of the Average American Film Festival

So I spent half of my Saturday at Birmingham's Sidewalk Film Festival, seeing as how my documentary from last semester, Nihon-Jin (The Japanese People), was playing. The day was pretty straight forward. I woke up, went to the fest with my special filmmaker's badge allowing me full access to anything and everything at the fest, but oddly enough, I did not really make much use of it, but I am getting ahead of myself.

My movie's screening was at 10:30 in the AM. The audience reception was good, maybe a ballpark of fifty to seventy people there. People laughed at the right moments, and you could definitely feel the tension in the room as the doc got into its more serious paces. Afterwards, there was a short Q & A, which about twenty audience members stayed for, and I think it was here where I had the most fun at Sidewalk. Getting to answer people's questions about filmmaking, and talk to them about the making of process, was a real treat, and it was one of those few moments where I actually felt like a legit filmmaker.

After the screening, I ducked in to see an animated film called Mia and the Migoo, simply feeling I needed to see something since I could get into anything with my badge. Problem is, this was the only movie that even remotely interested me, and it was a C+ in quality. I mean, the animation was hit and miss, some shots were more detailed than others, leading to an inconsistent visual style, and the story was really the tale of two movies. The first half was dull and disjointed, where as the second half was magical and almost on the level of a Miyazaki movie. When it gets right down to it, though, I just do not like these small town festivals like this, and this mirrors almost all of the other major fests in the US.

Now, while there are a few fests like Telluride, SSXW, and New York, that often show more mainstream, awards baiting movies, majority of these fests are filled with independent films that feature stories that just do not appeal to me. Hot button issues are typically big topics at these fests, such as: homosexuality, environmentalism, and religion. Not to mention, the movies at these fests tend to also fall into that indie movie genre of movies that are so quirky, uber-gritty, and realistic they can be considered art. But how can it be entertaining? That's what I care more about. Entertainment.

I'm just an old fashioned movie goer. I love the sheen of Old Hollywood, I miss it and long for it. I mean, most action movies that forsake brilliantly staged action sequences for shaky camera and quick editing gimmicks, just fail to create any excitement in me. I think this is why majority of these types of fests don't appeal to me, because I do not see myself as an artist, but as an entertainer. When it gets right down to it, these fests are for those who think of themselves as artists and not blokes like me whose great dream is to make studio produced blockbusters.

Regardless, this is a route that I must try and take if I want to get some sort of a name out there as a filmmaker. Hopefully I can just continue making the movies I love to make and just hope that folks at places like Sundance or Sidewalk will accept them and like them enough to attract some distributors. Anyways, that was Sidewalk for this year. Waka, waka!

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