Tag Archives: independent film

The power of asking, “Why not?”

When you think of Independent Filmmaking, some big names come up. This may include Kevin Smith whose 1994 Indie, Clerks, was added to the Library of Congress National Film Registry in late 2019. 

The National Film Preservation Board, “works to ensure the survival, conservation and increased public availability of America’s film heritage” and after nominees, the Board selects the films to be added to the film registry, “because of their cultural, historic and aesthetic importance to the nation’s film heritage.” 

Other independent films that were added in 2019 were Boys Don’t Cry (1999), Real Women Have Curves (2002) and She’s Gotta Have It (1986). 

Smith spoke about his appreciation and sense of awe that his first film has been added to the Library of Congress National Film Registry on Twitter and on his podcast, “Fatman and Beyond.” 

“I am overwhelmed! Thank you for acknowledging our little Jersey paean to working hard at not working at all. You took the only magic trick I’ve ever pulled off and legitimized it, placing Clerks into legendary company! SO glad I’ve always paid my taxes! (Thanks to all who voted!)”

Smith has made a career talking. From his live Q&A tours to podcasts, the filmmaker has made a living by telling stories of his everyday life. A few times, he has been asked how he was able to work in the film industry. His response was thoughtful and true. In a world, and particularly in a profession, in which many ask, “Why you? Why make this and why have you made this?” he replied that instead, “I surrounded myself with people who said, ‘Why not you?’ You can watch his answer in this YouTube video: 

So with a budget of less than $30,000, he made an independent film. He started using the internet, message boards and eventually one of the earliest regular podcasters to start sharing his thoughts, ideas and stories. And why not him? I enjoy his self-deprecating, humble, enthusiastic fan boy personality and so do many others. 

Smith has been an inspiration, much to his surprise but not to me. For example, in one of his podcasts, you can hear the wheels turning in his head telling him to make a film that would become the horror film, Tusk. It started out with his friend and frequent collaborator, Scott Mosier, discussing a fake advertisement about a man wanting someone to put on a walrus costume during their podcast, “Smodcast” Episode 259, The Walrus and The Carpenter. Over the next few months, Smith explained that he started writing a horror script based on the ad. One year later, filming began on his 80-page script. Tusk was released in September 2014, shocking audiences and critics. The amazing thing is that you can hear the process of how a filmmaker comes up with an idea, his highs and lows, and the challenges faced in order to make the idea into a film for a wide audience. 

Kevin Smith is an independent filmmaker whose films might be odd but he is a filmmaker who is inspiring others to find a way to tell their stories. That is what filmmakers, particularly independent filmmakers do. I say thank you to the man who asks “Why not?” for himself and for others. 

Written by Tara Jabbari,



Sound takes center stage at DCIFF 2020

During his Masterclass at DCIFF 2019, director Phillip Noyce stressed the importance of sound and music in transforming films. And we listened. For DCIFF 2020, on March 4-8, we will focus on these key elements that help elevate movies into emotional masterpieces.

The festival will begin on Wednesday, March 4 at 6:30pm at the historic Lincoln Theatre with a film that explores the intricate relationship between city, culture, and music in New Orleans. UP FROM THE STREETS features celebrated musicians and will be bookended by National Heritage Fellow and clarinetist Dr. Michael White, alongside his band.  

After our terrific Opening Night, we offer four sound and music-minded classes throughout the weekend at The Carnegie Institution for Science:

On Saturday, March 7, DC lawyers will host a discussion on navigating legal issues that involve music in film production at ENTERTAINMENT LAW 202 (12:30pm, $20). Afterwards, a panel of composers and musicians will discuss what it means to collaborate with directors at THE MUSIC MAKES THE MOVIE (2:30pm, $15).

Sunday, March 8 will feature a sound design workshop led by Grammy-nominated and film festival-winning filmmakers (12:30-2:30pm, $15). Later that afternoon, the final day of the festival will end with an enlightening Masterclass with composer Elik Álvarez, whose scores can be heard in several of Sir David Attenborough’s films: THE ART AND PROCESS OF FILM SCORING, DECONSTRUCTED (3:00-5:00pm, $18).

Check out the classes here and Opening Night here. If you’re interested in all four classes for yourself or a group, please email dcindiefilmfest@gmail.com for a 40% discount. We hope to see you there!