Imagine you made your first feature film. You submit it to numerous film festivals and get accepted! You are ready to go, by plane, train, car, whatever it takes.
Then the pandemic takes over and everything shuts down. All that hard work and the moment you have been looking forward to has been taken away and you don’t know what will happen with your film or the world.
That is what happened to many filmmakers in 2020. Speaking with Kevin Tran, he shared what he went through for his film, The Dark End of the Street which premiered at the DC Independent Film Festival in March 2020 right before lockdown began.
The film is about a suburban community enjoy a night in their homes with their friends and family, while an ominous threat looms just outside their doors.
Our film festival was the last one he was able to attend in person. Many other film festivals were canceled and filmmakers were no longer able to count on them to help with promoting their hard work. Later on, there were virtual film festivals in which Kevin also was able to participate.
He always felt appreciative and grateful that he was accepted to these film festivals and that people watched them but there was a very different, almost impersonal feel between the virtual film festival versus the in person.
As we spoke, he remembered that he drove from New York City to Washington, DC since Amtrak had shut down already. It is a wild thought that people actually left their homes, went to a movie theater and stayed to speak with him and the other cast and crew. But film is an intimate thing, there is a special time between strangers to unite in a theater and converse afterward.
Then in October, he was accepted into the Bushwick Film Festival but it was virtual. He attended from his home and spoke with a moderator who would ask questions based on participants in the chat box. It was an odd experience. He couldn’t see the participants’ faces, he couldn’t interact with the audience as much as he could at the DCIFF in person session.
But 2020 was a time for adjustment. Kevin decided to hire a publicist and that helped the film to become part of Amazon Prime (which is where I was able to watch it). At the time of our conversation, he was waiting for the numbers to be shared with him. We spoke about the pros and cons of having your film only through streaming services. With the lockdown and continued social distancing, people are at home more, looking for content to watch. However, the amount of content available has also increased the competition. Film Festivals helped with getting your film noticed but festivals had to adjust and filmmakers needed to get creative. Virtual meetings allowed a broader reach, figuring out how to handle virtual Q&As and promotions were a time for experimentation.
But we are in a creative industry because we like being creative and thinking outside the box. Kevin will participate in our first DCIFF Film Club where we will discuss his film in depth, examining the themes, ideas and bigger picture. This discussion I had with him was about the challenges and experiences with trying to get your film noticed during a pandemic.
Watch the trailer:
To learn more about the film, The Dark End of the Street, visit: https://www.darkendfilm.com/
For more of Kevin’s work, visit: https://www.crater.nyc/
You can also listen to our full conversation on the DCIFF Podcast here: https://anchor.fm/dciff-podcast/episodes/Kevin-Tran-eng1gq
*This interview was done in preparation for our FilmChat, please join us on Feb 9th. You can learn more here: https://dciff-indie.org/filmchat/
DCIFF Filmmaker Relations