Tag Archives: independent filmmakers

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,

DCIFF Staff

References: 

Announcing with Zest: DCIFF 2020 Animation and Web Series Finalists

Short Animation

  • Abe’s Story (Ireland/2019/12:21mins) directed by Adam H Stewart. An overworked Irish writer in Victorian London gets an idea for a bloody brilliant novel but his megalomaniac boss intervenes.
  • A Moonlight’s Tale  (USA/2019/6:21mins) directed by Ron Spivak, Andrew Noh, Elena Spina, Aarif Attarwala and Tony Gaeta. Where the stars gather to dance, the lightless Moon is rejected until one night the Sun appears at the celestial ball.
  • Chapped (USA/2019/7.52 mins) directed by Chelsea Rugg.   His and hers chapsticks are separated by a seemingly insurmountable obstacle—a full size bed. 
  • Crossing (India/2019/6:14mins) directed by Arvind Jeena and Nikhita Prabhudesai. A father and his daughter experience a driving accident that makes him rethink his actions.
  • Daughter (Czech Republic/2019/14:44mins) directed by Dria Kascheeva Should you hide your pain while longing for a father’s love? Or understand and forgive? 
  • Ek Cup Chaha (One Cup of Tea) (India/2019/2:23 mins)  directed by Sumit Yempalle. Pappa euphemistically explains to his son the meaning of life.  Stop motion animation using fine tea powder. 
  • Falafel Cart  (Kuwait/2019/13.55 mins) directed by Abdullah Al-Wazzan.  During a stormy night, a lonely immigrant falafel vendor is whirled into the memories of his past.
  • Faithy, hey (USA/ 2019 /3.53 mins) directed by emily hubley.  Artist/filmmaker Faith Hubley drew a self-portrait in her journal every day. Decades later, her daughter revisits and remembers.
  • Handmade (UK/2019/ 2:10mins) directed by Phoebe Morrison.  An exploration of animation processes through expressive hands interacting with a book.
  • Heat Wave (Greece/2019/7:13mins) directed by Fokion Xenos.  In the midst of a searing heatwave, two children find a way to cool everyone down.
  • Her Head (Finland/2019/7mins) directed by Emma Louhivuori.  A woman’s life is difficult because her head is a cat.
  • Infraction (France/2019/4.17mins.) directed by Marion Decoste, Mickaël Nezreg, Manon Ryckelynck, Maiwen Koskas Jeremie Hannoah, Florian Morelli, Raphael Halle and Aurélie Vanden Borren.  Amandine, an inflexible traffic warden, takes perverse pleasure in punishing every little infraction by handing out a fine. 
  • Lost and Found (Israel/2019/4:07mins) directed by Shimon Engel, Ofer Winter. A young boy is lost in a shopping mall, foreshadowing his story as a soldier in the 1982 Israel-Lebanon War.
  • Lost in Place (USA/2019/4mins) directed by Morgan Holub.  A young girl and her pet robot go on a journey, physically and emotionally.
  • Put Your Heart Into It (USA/2019/2:20 mins) directed by Cory Kerr.  After a struggling artist pours his heart into his book, he sells the rights, but the deal isn’t what he expected. 
  • Sea Shepherd (Portugal/2019/4:50mins) directed by Débora Mendes.  A girl serves fish in a restaurant until there are no more fish.
  • Stuffed (USA/2019/2.40mins) directed by Brad Pattullo. A taxidermist chases a squirrel around his house with a shotgun.
  • Titan (France/2019/1:32mins) directed by Guillaume Bricout , Gary Jeannot , Lorraine Jacquot , Leonard Laville. A white page is an opportunity to bring forth the creative spirit. 
  • The Ball’s Run (Italy/2919/3mins) directed by Hermes Mangialardo. In a playground a child tries to play with others but the ball gets farther and farther away.
  • The Cage (France/2019/3:17mins) directed by Jinlan Shi. Michael is a man who has gender dysphoria.
  • The Sun Will Fool You (USA/2019/4:42 mins) directed by Daniel Bigelow and Talon Nightshade with music by The Claudettes.  The blinding bright light of the sun doesn’t always come with warmth.
  • The Tale of Bunnyman Bridge (USA/2019/2:12mins ) directed by Eric Lochstampfor.  An eerie tale.
  • Trauma Chameleon (USA/2019/2:50mins) directed by Gina Kamentsky. An escaped laboratory rat navigates through a sea of punctuation.
  • Umbilical  (USA/2019/6:53mins)  directed by Danski Tang  How her mother’s abusive relationship with her father shaped her experiences in a boarding school in China.
  • Urbanality (Australia/2019/3:28 mins) directed by Evan McInnes. The city folk are about to get a wake-up call. But, will they stop and listen?
  • Wherefore Art Thou Theo?  (USA/2019/ 4:38mins)  directed by Theodore Schaffer.  The series of voicemails the director’s mother left during a time of loss

Web Series Episode or Pilot

  • Adult A.D.R. (USA/2018/28:46mins) directed by Topher Hansson & Chris Goodwin.  A home recording studio takes on a job helping a local actress and winds up being forced to sound design an adult film.
  • Bubbly Brown Sugar (USA/2019/15mins) directed by Tamala Baldwin and Lavarro Jones.  Lifestyle blogger and entrepreneur Jewel Patterson has psychic dreams that throw her life upside down.
  • Ember (USA/2019/35mins) directed by Seth Gitner.  A post-apocalyptic series where the crops no longer grow, and man has receded back to a tribal state.
  • Rubber Room (USA/2019/20mins) directed by Dugan Bridges. An uptight School Principal is sentenced to a detention center for misfit teachers.
  • Good Genes (USA/2020/19mins) directed by Hannah Welever.  Tayla is a black, queer, fashion intern. When her deadbeat father shows up strange other-world things start happening.