DCIFF Alum and Director David Burkman shares his film’s path to distribution

It is a great feeling working at a film festival when a selected film goes on to success.  You feel good for the cast and crew plus a little selfish pleasure that DCIFF picked a winner.  So we are delighted that the feature HAZE (USA/2015/106mins) just completed a run at the Laemmle Theater in Los Angeles, was acquired by Gravitas Ventures, is now available on iTunes and the official theatrical trailer was featured on Entertainment Weekly’s website.  For locals, go catch this Metro DC-produced film at The Arlington Cinema & Drafthouse on November 1st: A college freshman’s desire to join the best fraternity on campus is dampened when a pledge is killed in a brutal hazing incident.

We will see if director David Burkman can share how he achieved this distribution at DCIFF 2018, Feb 14-19, but for now, here are questions he answered for us about the post-release life of the film.

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What has the festival circuit experience given you? Has it been valuable? The festival experience was tremendously rewarding and valuable. The supportive environment at festivals was such a positive start to the launch of the film. Making an independent film is so hard and the gratification is so delayed, to finally be able to screen the film for a supportive audience is a major boost. The DC Independent Film Festival stood out as one of our very best experiences. Because we shot the film in the DC area, we felt like we were home. The audience was terrific, and the Q&A stood out as especially rich and meaningful.

You worked with a group of young talented actors.. have the film’s journey involved them in some way too? Yes. The actors and crew bonded very tightly during the making of the film, and these friendships have remained very strong.  Many of the cast members have been a part of the promotion of the film, joining us on the festival circuit, at theatrical screenings for Q&As, and they are at the center of our social media campaign. I think so many of them feel a special connection to HAZE.  They are not only extremely talented, but also just wonderful people.

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How are audiences responding  to the film? Now that we have screened the film on nearly 50 college campuses, at 10 film festivals, and are currently on our theatrical screening tour, people of all ages and walks of life are responding well to the film. For example, we recently screened in NYC at the famed Talking Movies screening series and found that a generally older audience had a lot to say about the film, the issues it raises, and the complex themes is explores. And we have also found that college students have strong opinions about the movie and seem to really relate to it.

Any words of advice for filmmakers debuting their first feature?  Off the top of my head I would say, be open minded to feedback and advice but also stick to your vision. And know that while Hollywood tries to get everyone to conform to a specific way of doing things, there is no one right way to do anything. One of our mottos when making HAZE was “Whatever it takes.”  I think being as creative in how you produce a film is as important as the creativity you pour into the storytelling. By that I mean find clever, new ways to get around obstacles and make things happen. And finally, if you believe in what you are doing, never, ever, give up.

Learn more about the film HAZE at: hazemovie.com

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