Tag Archives: film festival

Going to the Movies, An Oral History Project


As part of DCIFF’s inaugural Oral History Project, Going to the Movies, we have invited bloggers to share stories about their neighborhood theaters and the role they play in their community. Starting us off is Jen G. Pywell, a DCIFF alumni, profiling the funky and independent Darkside Cinema theater in her hometown of Corvallis, OR.


As the owner, Paul Turner, notes, “Two people got married at the Darkside. That and the numerous times people stayed after the shows to talk about the movies. The times where people tell me they could come to the Darkside when they felt there was nowhere else to go when they were depressed, experiencing a loss, upset, etc. because we always treated them the same.”

Click HERE to read the full article.

Going to the Movies, a project of DCIFF, draws on oral histories to connect individual movie-going experience to collective memory, place-making and local knowledge. We are dedicated to capturing, preserving and sharing the memories of the community and historical experiences around an important part of American life. Learn more about the project on our Website and follow us on Facebook.

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It’s a Bird! It’s a Plane! … It’s a DRONE!

We recently caught up with our On The Hill Summit coordinator, Russell Imrie, after a congressional hearing to discuss Congress’ current stance and future concerns regarding the federal regulation of drone activity. According to Imrie, legislators are angry and hyper-concerned about the safety of drones flying over restricted areas, especially about near-misses with passenger aircrafts. The Transportation and Infrastructure Committee hearing heard that about one million UAVs (drones) are expected to be in the air by January 2016. The FAA is overwhelmed by these numbers. Everyone is frustrated trying to find a happy medium between filming rights and safety precautions. There seems to be no easy solution in sight.

Since the February 2015 DCIFF On the Hill Summit, there has been little to no change to the drone dilemma, although the number of exemptions to FAA regulations granted allowing people to use drones has soared from 8 to 1,891: that is 1,883 in 7 months.  All of these “333 Exemptions” derive from a rule that was supposed to be finalized by September 2015 but is still non-existent. According to a recent FAA update, the ruling should be completed by Fall 2016. Meanwhile, the federal government has just announced that all recreational drones must be registered… while the FAA toils away at its rules.

How will this impact the film industry? Aerial footage is an essential point-of-view in so many films, but the process of getting a cameraman in the air on a helicopter or airplane can be extremely expensive and not independent-film-friendly. Unmanned cameras such as drones seem like a natural alternative for low-budget filmmaking, but is it really legal? Yes, and no. There are currently 243 film companies that can legally film using drone cameras in the United States. Although they may have federal permission, the laws are very ambiguous and highly regulated by height restrictions, communication with airport control towers and visibility of the drone. This troubling grey area, coupled with overly complicated regulations, often discourages filmmakers from obtaining a proper license. Imrie recommends filmmakers take a close look at the Federal Aviation Administration and consider partnering with an already approved production company that has been granted the 333 waiver. Partnering with a pre-approved company can significantly lower your risk of flying in the wrong place at the wrong time and jeopardizing your film.

Imrie concludes that, unfortunately, regulations are going to be a mess for a long time and primarily dealt with by complaints and court rulings. Aerial shots don’t need to be eliminated from low-budget films due to cost, but it is important to be up to date on the current regulations to protect yourself and your film.

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WILDLIKE: Interview with Writer, Director, Producer Frank Hall Green

WildLike Production Stills

Wildlike is a thrilling coming-of-age adventure! A troubled teen must face the dangers of the Alaskan wild, as well as her own past, in order to find her way home. We had an opportunity to speak with writer, director and producer Frank Hall Green to discuss his feature film’s public release. Wildlike, which stars Ella Purnell and Bruce Greenwood, screened to acclaim at the DC Independent FIlm Festival in March 2015.

Be sure to catch Wildlike in theaters starting Friday, September 25th!

Where did you find inspiration for to make Wildlike?

GREEN: The origin of Wildlike came from several aspects of my life and interests. The social issue in the film had become important to me over time and I became dedicated to presenting the events of Mackenzie’s assault in a truthful and effective way. As an issue, it’s under-represented and too easily discarded as a plot device in film and television storytelling, especially when you consider the scope of how many girls and women are affected and the grave damage done to a person in all related circumstances. I had an inherent desire to tell a story about a person on a trajectory into the outdoors of the out-of-doors. I realized I really wanted the landscapes to speak to this, and Alaska popped into my mind and stuck. So over time I married the idea of adventure, being lost in Alaska and healing in nature with the social issue of the film, which in turn would be the cause of Mackenzie running away, allowing me to explore deeper characters and present issues important to me in the movie.

What challenges did you face at different stages of production?

GREEN: Two distinct difficulties with Wildlike were developing the story and writing the script. As I wove the images, characters and environments together into a story, I then had to translate a very full head of what I thought I understood down onto the page, where suddenly it was a mess with little structure and many holes. So when I began to write each moment and realize I need moments in between, suddenly I needed to know what an action of a character means, what decisions will be made, how will the character develop, what exactly will they say or not say, and then I was stumped. I especially had to take frequent breaks and spoke to a close confidant on a daily basis while writing the Uncle’s part. Brian Geraghty had a similar difficulty in playing Uncle, and we shared that, and I commend him for stepping up and portraying Uncle with vigor.

WildLike Production Stills

What was your favorite aspect of making this film in particular?

GREEN: For me there is something precious and singular about accomplishing one’s first feature narrative film. Naturally, one would do the best one could with a feature, but I think there is a perspective of humility, care, awareness and perfection that is crucial. In relation to this, the film has to be worth it, which to me means different, fresh, original and with meaning. Directing and completing a feature is a beautiful thing for a writer/director because you are forced to rework the screenplay all the way through into the editing room. You realize a final product that was once a kernel of an idea or image. This is a tremendous benefit for a director who is also a writer, and who counts himself or herself as a practicing and learning filmmaker.

Do you have any advice regarding independent film distribution?

GREEN: Recently, several filmmakers have asked about our festival strategy and distribution.  To be fair, I did not have a plan for distribution different than the typical ‘go to big festival, sell the movie,’ but I was diligent and that has paid off. My advice would be to begin building a network of audience and collaborators. Every aspect of the filmmaking process should be to gather people into the fold of those who know your film and will support it.  This starts with family, crew, crew’s family and friends, all who helped on the production and and in post.  Add social media to that, during pre-production, and keep it going.  Then that circle can grow at film festivals, screenings, special events and anyone you meet in the meantime.  A distributor may or may not be willing to take on your film for any number of reasons, but you can prepare for the distribution conversation and offer by telling them you have been working on outreach and you’re ready to continue. They can distribute your film, but no one can market it grassroots-fashion like yourself.  For better or for worse, that is what indie films need.

What’s next for you? Any projects in the works?

GREEN: I have a development and production company with producer Tom Heller: Catch & Release Films. Tom and I have several books and materials that we have acquired for adaptation, so those are underway on the producing front.  For writing and directing, where does one go after Alaska? The pressure! No, seriously, I have several scripts, but I have not determined which is #2 yet. Rest assured the location will play a role. I hope I can arrange a great journey, physical and emotional, with poignant characters and restraint. I look forward to starting the independent film process over again!

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Masterclass with Award-Winning Director Vikram Jayanti

DCIFF presents a masterclass with veteran multi-award-winning documentary director and producer Vikram Jayanti on Sunday, March 1st at 1:45pm. Tickets can be purchased in advance HERE or at the door (limited to 30 attendees).


One of the hardest challenges of documentary filmmaking is controlling the unexpected. This year’s masterclass with Vikram Jayanti will focus on his experiences interviewing difficult, eccentric, larger-than-life and often notorious subjects, and the techniques and strategies that have produced the best results for his films. Vikram will be discussing and showing excerpts from several of his films that contain people that are not only larger-than-life, but they are about something bigger than themselves.

His stunning credentials from years of experience grants Vikram access into the lives of people who are otherwise off-limits to the world. A few dynamic characters from his films that will be topics of the masterclass include a self-acclaimed psychic spy in The Secret Life of Uri Geller – Psychic Spy?, a musical genius in The Agony and Ecstasy of Phil Spector, James Ellroy’s Feast of Death and a chess extraordinair in Game Over: Kasparov and the Machine. He will discuss various techniques that were used to capture unique moments and angles with these individuals.

A top-of-mind scenario for Vikram when speaking with him about what we can expect from the masterclass was how the energy shifted when he sat James Ellroy across from his wife Helen during filming enabling only the filmmaker to truly visualize the scene. Vikram enjoyed exploring the difference between facts and truth with filming Ellroy. He explains his cinematic approach by saying, “art and literature can have access to deeper truths than facts can provide. Supplying the fundamentals of the facts is important, but then engage the audience with the mystery of the story, a new way to see detectives and the ability to visualize the truth.”

Vikram will help explain how to obtain the less obvious and yet more fascinating aspects of a story. For example, the focus for his film about the famous Russian chess player Garry “The Beast” Kasparov, whose only undefeatable opponent was an IBM supercomputer, was not the game of chess. Vikram changed the story from chess to the “face-off” between a Russian and Wallstreet. The Beast was unable to stare down a computer which resulted in unexpected, thrilling and adrenaline induced storytelling.

The relationship between the filmmaker and the subject is more than a face-to-face interview. Join us on Sunday, March 1st at 1:45pm to learn the essential techniques and approaches, along with a few tricks of the trade, to capture the untold story.

Learn more about Vikram Jayanti and the event HERE.

Vikram's films

Purchase tickets HERE to see films directed and produced by Vikram Jayanti:

Thursday, February 26th at 6pm
The Secret life of Uri Geller – Psychic Spy?
Friday, February 27th at 2pm
Saturday, February 28th at 8pm
James Ellroy’s Feast of Death

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