Thursday, November 18, 2010

Chris Hansen Interview

Chris Hansen is a filmmaker and a Professor at Baylor University. I have known Chris for years and I am a fan of his work. His films include, The Proper Care And Feeding of an American Messiah, Clean Freak, & Endings.

Chris is currently raising money for his next film, An Affair. Check out this film at and if you could donate a few bucks Chris would appreciate it.

What’s your background in film/video?
I went to film school at Regent University, and that was my first real exposure to any kind of education or training in film. I majored in English in college, and I recommend that sort of thing to anyone interested in film because I essentially got to study storytelling through the great masters of literature. After film school, where my focus was on directing and screenwriting, I worked at the university for a while, eventually doing educational video projects for professors to use in their classes. It wasn’t the most fulfilling thing, creatively speaking. I had of course been writing all this time as well. Eventually, I went back to school to get my MFA in Script and Screenwriting in large part so I could transition to teaching about film. And that’s what I do now – I teach filmmaking and screenwriting, and I make films.

I love your first feature The Proper Care & Feeding of An American Messiah. In it you deal with religion in a humorous way. How did various communities take the film? Did people realize you were having fun with it?
I was concerned about that initially – I assumed people would be highly offended. But I’ve found that most religious people who see the film tell me that they know people just like the characters in the film. My point is – people tend to see other people in the characters. I am sure some have been offended, judging from comments I’ve read online, etc. But it didn’t cause a big controversy or anything. In some ways, I think it’s occasionally misunderstood. I was poking a bit of fun at the way people misuse religion. I’m a very religious person myself, so I wasn’t trying to make fun of people of true faith. The character in my film is someone who has decided that all religion is about HIM and him personally. He kind of has it completely backwards. But yes, I think most people see it as a “gentle satire” that wouldn’t highly offend most audiences.

Endings is your second feature and very ambitious. Why did you choose such an ambitious film?
I really wanted to expand what I’d tried to do previously. American Messiah was designed to capitalize on our weaknesses – it didn’t take a ton of money, and any flaws could easily be attributed to the mock documentary “style” of the film. But I didn’t want to be limited to that this time around, and I really wanted to make something with some emotional resonance. Comedy is fun – even though it’s hard – but I feel like comedic films often aren’t taken very seriously in the festival world. And these days, if you’re not making an R-rated comedy, people just don’t seem all that interested. The funny thing here is that, when I wrote Endings, I thought I was writing something suitable for a low budget because I only had three main characters, and I wrote with locations in mind that I knew I had access to in the local area. What I didn’t take into account was how many people these three individuals interact with in their separate lives before they come together. And I also didn’t think about the sheer number of locations – accessible or not – that I had written into the story. So some of my ambition was just a lack of planning for how much this would take. It ended up being exhausting for everyone, especially shooting in the heat of a Texas summer.

How is Endings doing?
Given its budget, I think it’s doing pretty well. It’s playing at some good regional film festivals, like Seattle’s True Independent Film Festival, the Atlanta Underground Film Festival, Dallas VideoFest, and Southern Winds Film Festival. I’m hopeful we’ll find someone who wants to make it more widely available.

You used an all student crew and as I understand it your film was part of a class. What was it like using students on your crew and having professional actors?
I always work with students on my films. We offer the film experience as a summer course, and students earn credit while learning what a film set is really like. They often rotate through different positions, with the exception of a few key people that we keep in place for continuity’s sake. And we hire professional actors as well as a professional DP and Sound Recordist/Mixer. Working with students in this capacity – on a professional project – can be challenging, but what you sacrifice in speed and experience, you make up for in enthusiasm. They want to be there, and they’re excited by the process. So, we move a little slower by necessity, but the professionals we hire come onto the project knowing that they’ll do some educating along the way. That’s hardest on the actors, of course, but we work hard to help the students understand how actors work and what they need in order to do their jobs well. And so far, we haven’t had any negative experiences.

What was your biggest budget item on Endings?
The DP and the postproduction sound budget were probably about neck and neck. And those are two areas you really can’t skimp on.

What would you do different next time?
This isn’t really in my control – but I’d love to have the infrastructure behind me to make the behind-the-scenes parts run a little more smoothly. That means a larger budget, of course. And it’s not that things didn’t go well, but when you have no money, the producer has to get really creative. And my producer has been incredible, but I’d like to have a larger budget to work with at some point in the future. On the other hand, I don’t want to sacrifice my autonomy. I make the movies I want to make, and I can do that in part because I’m making them very inexpensively. I just get tired of not having access to really simple locations because we can’t afford to buy them out for the day/night that we’d like to shoot there.

How do you balance teaching, making films and your family, you have four daughters, right? You got a lot going on…
Balance? What’s that? I’m not sure I have it all figured out. I’ve settled into a routine of sorts, where I make a film every few summers, and the next year after we shoot is kind of crazy while we edit the film and do the other postproduction stuff. And the next year after that is crazy in a different way while we take the film out to fests. Somewhere in the midst of that, I try to live a normal life. The truth is, I have a degree of stability that comes with a regular full-time job and a family. And I need that. My job as a professor gives me stability, but it also provides the opportunity to make films – so it’s a double positive. By its nature it’s also more flexible than other jobs, so I can travel to film festivals. So it’s not hard, in my case, to balance the filmmaking side with the film professor side (though it’s a little hard to market and distribute the films myself). What’s harder is making time for my family – but we stay involved in a lot of stuff in the community, so the schedule just dictates that I be there at certain times, and I am. Scheduling things works for me.

You are talking about doing another feature next Summer; will it be as ambitious as Endings?
This one will be much more contained. Fewer speaking parts, one key location and just a few others. I am viewing it as a challenge – can I make this story work with just these few characters and this contained set of locations?

Is there a film that was a huge influence on you? What is it about this film that influenced you?
Martin Scorsese’s work has always been a huge influence on me – I wish I could define precisely why his work has always impacted me. I think it’s the energy and detail he brings to every shot, and the complexity of the stories and the characters. I’m also a huge fan of Coppola’s and Kubrick’s films. And aside from those, the films that made me want to be a filmmaker – that first introduced me to the idea of film as an art form – were the European auteurs of the 50s and 60s: Fellini, Bergman, etc. All of them tell interesting stories in visually stunning ways. Every frame is like a painting. And then they take those frames and make them move.

Where can I buy copies of your films?
The Proper Care & Feeding of an American Messiah is available on Amazon in a special edition with deleted scenes and a making-of documentary:

You can also watch it on Hulu, which is ad supported, of course.

Clean Freak is on vimeo in its entirety:

And Endings isn’t available anywhere yet because it’s still screening in festivals.

Labels: , , , , , , ,

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Free Download, Kay Boyle and the Fall Tour

Free Download, Kay Boyle and the Fall Tour

Hey Everybody I hope things are going well and you’ve all had a great summer.

I just wanted to let you know that FOR A LIMITED TIME you can download a FREE PDF of the first 4 chapters of my Book, The Angry Filmmaker Survival Guide. Go to and find "Click Here" on the right hand side ABOVE the Book Cover. 

Please tell your friends.

If you want to buy a PDF Version of the entire book for a mere $10 then go to and click on the cart BELOW the book description.  I don’t know how long I am going to run this special so I would grab it while you can…

Kay Boyle

The Kay Boyle Film fundraising is going great! I am over half way to my goal of $6000.  Go to You can click on Kay Boyle on the menu bar and read more about this amazing woman.  Please Donate.  Any amount helps.

The Fall Tour

I am hard at work booking the Fall Tour.  It starts on September 9th in Washington DC at the DC Shorts Film Festival.  I will be posting my itinerary on my website and Face Book as it comes together. 

From October 8th to November 9th I will be joined on the tour by Jon Gann and his dog Pilot.  Jon is a terrific Filmmaker, the Founder of the DC Film Alliance & the Creator of DC Shorts, an amazing film festival.  Jon will be talking about film festival strategies as well as filmmaking, distribution and whatever else comes to mind.  To find out more about Jon Gann go to or you can Google him.

Contact me ( and invite Jon, Pilot and I to your college, university, film festival, media art center, or your house for dinner.

I am booking now so don’t delay.

Take care.


Labels: , , , ,

Monday, July 26, 2010

An Interview with Beth Harrington

Beth Harrington is a terrific filmmaker and a good friend.  I have been a fan of her work since her film, The Blinking Madonna and Other Miracles, her film Welcome To The Club: The Women of Rockabilly is one of my all time favorite documentaries.  She is working on a new film, The Winding Stream: The Carters, The Cashes and The Course of Country Music.  I am looking forward to it.

We rarely get to see each other anymore but when we do the conversation is always wonderful.  Enjoy the interview.

What’s your background in film/video?

I’ve been doing this in one form or another for over 30 years! (How the heck did that happen?)  Came from an artsy family, went to college for media (Syracuse University, Newhouse School of Public Communications, TV-Radio sequence), graduated and moved back to Boston – my hometown – and did a few related jobs (PR, audiovisual company scriptwriter) and then went off and joined a touring rock & roll band for a few years, only to realize that I did indeed have some marketable skills as a scriptwriter and producer.  So I pursued that from then on mostly as a freelancer. In 1990, I got a job working for a company called The Documentary Guild which in turn worked for WGBH in Boston. So I was an associate producer on shows for Frontline, NOVA, The Health Quarterly and some PBS specials.  Then I came to the Upper Left Coast for love and have been working as independent filmmaker since I arrived, but mostly with Oregon Public Broadcasting.

You made Welcome To The Club with some funding from ITVS, and they helped fund your film The Blinking Madonna & Other Miracles.  What is it like working with them? 

I think very highly of the people at ITVS. They have a tough job administering a funding process that is essentially giving public monies to independent filmmakers.  They have to do that very scrupulously and, I think, they catch a lot of flak for how exacting their process is. ITVS is also highly competitive so there are always hundreds of disgruntled filmmakers who are disappointed they didn’t get funded.  I’ve been one of them, too.

For a filmmaker applying to them, I would say the bottom line is this – you need to help them (which is to say, the panel of jurors they assemble) choose you.  Read their guidelines VERY carefully and answer the questions they ask.  Don’t just cut and paste your proposal into a rough approximation of their template and expect it to work.  They need to be able to say that your film is one designed for public television AND that your film serves an underserved audience. If they can’t say those two things they can’t fund you, no matter how cool your idea is. They don’t want to hear that you want to make a theatrical film (they’re happy if it has theatrical release but the first commitment is to public TV broadcast) and they don’t want to hear you say it will appeal to everyone (not true, anyway).  So, if your film doesn’t fit those criteria, you may want to rethink even submitting to ITVS. 

If you do get funding from them, I think you will find the ITVS folks extremely supportive. They want you to be successful.  They also are hands-off on the editorial part.  They will make suggestions but you are not obligated to follow up on them.  You have artistic control of your project.  But they will want you to be scrupulous with the funding they gave you and they really like it when you stick to your timeline!

You were nominated for a Grammy (long form music video category). Did that make it easier to get your next film going?  Or did it make a difference at all?

It’s hard to say because things like that make ripples we can’t always see.  I think people in the music business I’ve been dealing with on my latest film probably see it as a sign of legitimacy, which, of course, is helpful.  But my sense that the Grammy nomination was going to open doors for funding was not borne out. Sometimes I think that these kinds of honors give people the opening to say, “Oh, she doesn’t need our help.  She’s big time.  She’ll get the money from somewhere else.”  But maybe down the line, I will see that as an erroneous take, too.  Just hard to know from this vantage point.

Tell me about your new film?

It’s called The Winding Stream. The logline is: The Carters, The Cashes and The Course of Country Music. It’s an epic tale about the origins of the form we call country as told through this one family – The Original Carters.  It takes their story from the early 1900s all the way to the present generation of family musicians and, of course, along the way talks about legend Johnny Cash and his wife June Carter Cash.  It is a history film but it also features studio performances with John Prine, Rosanne Cash, George Jones, Sheryl Crow, Kris Kristofferson and the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Murry Hammond of the Old 97s, and others to come (among them the Carolina Chocolate Drops, and hopefully Wanda Jackson and Jack White!) It’s got great interviews and archival footage and will have cool animated graphics and photos, too.

What was the coolest part of making your new film?

The coolest moment so far has been meeting Johnny Cash.  Might be the coolest moment in my film career.  He was awesome. Intense as you might expect but also kind and genuine and really funny.  Looked right through you when he was talking to you. 

Beyond that, I’d say it’s just a kick to interview musicians I admire and talk about this great shared reverence for these fantastic roots music progenitors. Joe Ely said, “People should know who the Carters were, just like they should know who the first president of the United States was.”  Amen.

What’s next?

Well, I’m trying to see my way past this film, but I’ve still got a long way to go.  But having said that, I would like to do a film about a photographer I’m intrigued by, a Japanese immigrant named Frank Matsura.  His work was awesome (powerful photos of settlers and folks from various Northwest tribes – intimate, really compelling) and his story of coming to NE Washington in the 1900s is really touching.  I feel some affinity for this guy who came to this state and tried to fit in and just started documenting the people and places he encountered.  Plus, if I did do this film it would make it so I had to go back to Japan to do research! I just went there for the first time this spring and that country has become a big source of fascination for me.

Is there a film that was a huge influence on you?  What is it about this film that influenced you?

Oh gee, I never know what to say for this question. I’m not the encyclopedic film buff sort of person.  I have super eclectic tastes and a very bad memory, too.  I find things that influence me in almost everything I see.  But I guess I’d say I really admire Errol Morris’ body of work and there are things about how he tells stories that really impress me.  He’s so oddly evenhanded, even when you know he has a point of view.  But it’s not that fake-y “fair and balanced” sort of evenhandedness.  It’s something more profound and artistic.  And surprising. 

Where can I buy copies of your films?

Some of my films are sold through PBS and OPB, some through me.  Visit my store on my website and there’s info there about all of them.

Labels: , , , , , ,

Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Fall Tour featuring Jon Gann

The Fall Tour featuring Jon Gann

I am booking my Fall Tour as we speak.  Once again I will be teaching my six workshops, The New Model of Independent Filmmaking, Making the Extreme No Budget Film, Now That Your Film Has Been Rejected… Self Distribution, Sound Design on Independent Features, Pre-Production on Extreme Low Budget Features, & Learn Your Craft!  Making Short Films

I am also promoting my book The Angry Filmmaker Survival Guide: Making the Extreme No Budget Film.  I am hard at work on the next book and will have it ready for Christmas.

The Tour starts on September 9th in Washington, DC at the DC Shorts Film Festival.  From there I will slowly make my way around the country.

Big News…

After my appearance at Script DC Oct 15-17th I will be joined for the last month of the tour by Jon Gann.

Who is Jon Gann?

Jon Gann is the founder of the DC Film Alliance, a non-profit group supporting Washington, DC’s film and video community, and the creator of the DC Shorts Film Festival; now in its seventh year, the event attracts national and international filmmakers, and has become one of the country’s premier short film showcases.  As a filmmaker, Jon’s notable past projects include: “Cyberslut,” the first gay-themed short film to screen at over 50 festivals and broadcasts worldwide; “Signs,” a national 48 Hour Film Project award winner, and “Offline,” a modern dating parable.

Jon’s new venture, Reel Plan, consults with filmmakers on the festival circuit.  His “festival tips” blog is read by hundreds of filmmakers every week, and through his work, has bridged the communication gap between competing film festivals, so all can share film information, sponsor strategies and filmmaker data.

Jon will be doing workshops on Film Festival Strategies and he and I will also be joining forces discussing Independent Distribution.  (Check out,, or just Google him!)

I have known Jon for years and found him to be one of the most knowledgeable filmmakers especially when it comes to questions about film festivals and distribution.

This is going to be fun.

Drop me a note at and let’s see if we can come by your media art center, university, school or film festival. 

You will learn a lot and have a great time!



Labels: , ,

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

A Conversation with Paul Harrill

Paul Harrill is an Independent Filmmaker whose film Quick Feet, Soft Hands will be airing on various PBS Stations across the US over the next couple weeks. More about that at the end.

What’s your background in film/video?

I grew up in Knoxville, Tennessee, and there are no professional artists or creative types in my extended family, so deciding to become a filmmaker was maybe a little unusual. Especially because I started making films well before things like DV and Final Cut Pro made it more accessible to everyone.

But people were always telling stories in my family, and I was movie obsessed as a kid, so I guess that's what led me into it.

As far as experience, because I didn't have access to so much as a Super-8 or video camera, I began by writing screenplays on my own. Then, when I went to college, I started making Super-8 films thanks to a loaned camera from a friend. Then I made some videos. And that work got me into Temple University's graduate film school.

Temple attracts great students and has long tradition of supporting independent, alternative work. Plus, it's a lot less expensive than places like USC and NYU. It was a good fit for me.

While I was in film school, I just managed to miss the advent of digital video and Final Cut Pro, which I guess I'm ultimately happy about. I made some movies in 16mm and learned that way of working.

At some point, around the time I started exhibiting my work for the public and around the time that I started getting money for projects, I grew from thinking of myself as someone that wanted to be a filmmaker into someone who was one.

You made Quick Feet, Soft Hands with some funding from ITVS. What it was like working with them?

ITVS funded the bulk of "Quick Feet, Soft Hands." The way I secured the funding was via their Open Call process, which happens a couple of times a year.

The thing that made working with ITVS appealing to me was that they provide major funding for projects but, at the same time, they give filmmakers a lot of creative control.

So I had final cut. They didn't ask to have input on casting. Basically, the things that a commercial production company would probably get involved with -- maybe even meddle with -- ITVS didn't interfere.

They weren't laissez-faire -- they read drafts of the script, watched edits of the movie, and gave notes on both. But they paid for the movie I wanted to make.

So the way you work with them is sort of the way a filmmaker might work with a production company, and it's sort of like getting a grant. Because it's a mix of collaboration and yet retaining creative control. At least, that was my experience.

As far as things other filmmakers could learn from my experience, that's a good question.

First, since applying for funding from them begins much like a grant application process, I'd say all the normal rules of grant writing apply: Read the guidelines carefully, work on the application well in advance of the deadline, write with precision, and proofread, proofread, proofread.

Beyond that, though, for ITVS you need to understand what kind of work they support. I have more than a handful of unproduced scripts, but this was the one that I thought matched with their sensibility. It's not a sports movie; it's about the American experience -- specifically, the attempt to move up from one's economic class. Sports is just the backdrop. So, I was careful about selecting this specific project.

But that's true of any funder -- whether it's a production company or a grant or an investor -- you've gotta understand what they like, what they've already done, and what they're looking for now.

Quick Feet, Soft Hands has been running on PBS, how has it been received? Are you getting any feedback?

The film's been picked up by a number of stations -- which is great. But as far as feedback from audiences, most of that has come from the festival screenings, screenings at universities, and venues like that -- far more so than from the television screenings.
The nature of television is that the audience and filmmaker don't interact they way we do with work that's shown in public screenings or on the internet. For someone that's mostly been accustomed to screening work in cinemas, it's a little weird to know -- "Well, the movie's on TV in San Francisco or Lexington or wherever tonight." The upside, though, is that lots of people have the opportunity to see my work this way.

What was your biggest budget item?

Cumulatively, it was salaries for the cast and crew. This was the first film of mine where people were paid, but it was still a "for love and art" kind of project. No one got rich from working on the film.

If the Tennessee Smokies baseball team hadn't gotten behind the project, I'm sure the biggest budget item would have been art direction and location fees associated with the baseball team. But they got behind the script and basically gave us access to anything we wanted. I was initially nervous that they wouldn't like the story, since it's not really upbeat. But they actually appreciated the fact that it didn't romanticize things. They were like, "Yeah most of these guys are never gonna make it!"

Is there anything you would do different next time?

Oh, sure. There's always stuff -- either from the way it was made, or the finished film -- that I look back on and think, "I'd do that differently now." But that's just the nature of filmmaking. One of the things that I love about filmmaking is that the films I make stand as snapshots of who I was while you were making them.

My next film will likely be made with a smaller crew and probably with a more extended shooting schedule, which I prefer since there's more time for reflection as you work. But shooting "Quick Feet" this way just wasn't possible. We had to work around a real baseball team's schedule, actor schedules, and so on.

Is there a feature in your future?

I suspect so, but I hate talking about projects until they're concrete. I pretty much will tell you anything about a movie I've made, and nothing about a movie I want to make. It drives my friends crazy. Next question?

Is there a film that was a huge influence on you? What is it about this film that influenced you?

I've been asked this before, and it’s tough to name just one film, or even one filmmaker. One film I haven't answered before, but which was important, was “Bicycle Thieves." "Bicycle Thieves" isn't my favorite film by a long shot -- it's not even my favorite Neo-Realist film -- but I do love it. I was 19 years old and I remember seeing that movie, and learning how those movies were made, and I realized, maybe for the first time, that there was not only an alternative to Hollywood, but that tradition had existed for a long time.

That film led me to explore all of cinema, not the narrow range of stuff I had been watching, and, probably most importantly, it let me know that the stories I saw around me in my life, in my world, could be interesting enough.

Where can I buy copies of your films?

We just released the DVDs to institutions, so they're not really what individuals will want to pay for them. But eventually we'll sell them for individuals on the website. Ashley and I also sell DVDs of our work at all of the screenings we attend.
"Gina, An Actress, Age 29" is available to view on The Auteurs (now called Mubi):

This just in from Paul himself…

It looks like Quick Feet, Soft Hands is going to be broadcast on over 100 of the "PBS World" affiliate stations around the country on Friday July 9. It'll play a lot of big cities including NYC, LA, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Boston... down to tiny stations in South Dakota, Alaska, and Puerto Rico. A lot of stations are showing it 3 or 4 times that day, including in prime time.

If people want to find out whether it will screen in their area, they search this page by zip code:

Alternately, they can check their local PBS World station schedule for airtimes. (A list of all PBS World affiliates can be found here:

Labels: , , , , , , ,

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Meet Jon Gann of DC Shorts

Jon Gann is a filmmaker, the founder of the DC Film Alliance and the creator of the DC Shorts Film Festival. He and I talked last week and we hit on a number of subjects.

KB: How did all this come about?

JG: In 2003, I traveled around the globe to support my short "Cyberslut" -- at the time, the most successful gay-themed short film, playing over 50 festivals. After visiting a few dozen festivals over the course of a year, I was disillusioned by the whole festival circuit. It was clear that many festivals were concerned about money and sponsors and patrons and parties, and caring about films and filmmakers — especially those who created short films — was not a priority. One festival, the Ashland Independent Film Festival in little Ashland, Oregon was an amazing exception. If you made your way to the festival, the organizers made sure you were fed, housed and had access to all of the filmmakers and films. It was an eye opener. By the time I made my way back to DC, the seed was planted. I called my dear friend, Gene Cowan, who had previously helped me with motion graphics for a few films, and is a techno-junkie. I told him my idea and he laughed! Then in typical Lucy-and-Ethel fashion, he acquiesced and joined me.

It was around this time that I already created the DC Film Salon and was making headway into DC's previously closed film community. I just figured a festival in with my idea of opening up the industry to as many people as possible. After a few years, with the help of some friends and supporters, I formally formed the non-profit DC Film Alliance as an umbrella organization to manage all of these pet projects.

KB: What can filmmakers get out of DC Shorts that they wouldn’t get at others film festivals?

JG: DC Shorts was designed to be about the filmmaker. From our detailed, yet easy-to-understand rules and entry information, to the bug event in which every visiting filmmaker is fed, housed, and offered entry into every film screening and party. But what I am most proud of is our unique judging process -- and our amazing feedback system. Our judges use a proprietary software program we developed which not only helps us choose films, but at the end of the selection process, is opened up so everyone can see the judges scores and comments. This feedback, if used and understood, can help a film in its path to success.

KB: What is Script DC and how can someone apply?

JG: Washington, DC is a big film town -- probably the third largest in the country. With an industry that large, we have many organizations -- all of which were programming screenwriting conferences. I felt that 5 conferences a year -- all offering the same courses -- was a little much, and very taxing on resources. I worked with these organizations to create ScriptDC -- a single regional screenwriting conference. One weekend, many courses for writers of every level -- and plenty of opportunities to hear scripts read aloud, pitch producers, and network with filmmakers.

KB: You consult on Film Festival Strategies for filmmakers. What does that entail and why is it important?

JG: Every week, I receive calls from young filmmakers who are looking for answers to why their film is not succeeding as they anticipated. For some, it is the film itself. For others, it is their festival strategy. And for many, it is unrealistic expectations of the industry. A few years ago, I started Reel Plan to help independent filmmakers plan the future of their film. Our consultants have many years of experience as award-winning filmmakers, festival judges, script analysts, directors of major film festivals, and successful media strategists. We have traveled the world attending film festivals, screening events and broadcast launches.

In order to determine if a film will benefit from our services, we begin with a written interview, which is followed up by a phone call and a viewing of the movie. From this information, we provide a quick analysis, some simple suggestions for how to start a new strategy, and a determination if your film is a proper fit for the next step.

Of the hundreds of short films we watch every year, only a small percentage of films have the chops to make the festival circuit pay. If we take you on as a client, it means we believe in you and your film. And we are going to do what it takes to help you achieve the success you deserve. While we can’t make any promises or guarantees, we can assure you that our strategies do work for most films.

KB: You screen a lot of movies, what is the biggest mistake you see filmmakers make?

JG: Well, it seems that we fixed the picture issues of the past. Inexpensive HD cameras are everywhere (including your cell phone), so the look of today's shorts is incredible. The biggest faults are: sound design and story.

I still see beautifully filmed projects which sound as though the microphone was a block away. Or music mixes which drown out the dialogue. Audiences will forgive bad picture, often thinking it was an artistic choice. No one can forgive bad sound -- as soon as an audience member thinks, "what did he say?!" you have lost them -- probably for the rest of the film.

Filmmaking is visual storytelling. All films -- even experimental -- rely on a coherent and compelling story. Most film schools are quick to stress the technical aspects of filmmaking -- and often forget about the writing. It shows in their students' work, and it shows on screen. Concentrate on the story, and the rest will come together.

KB: If I want to know about how you can help me, how can I get hold of you? Or can I?

JG: While I try to help every filmmaker who emails, I often need time to concentrate on DC Shorts or other projects I am managing. My consulting practice is online at -- and there are links there to email me with your questions or comments.

KB: What obstacles did you have to overcome to make the DC Film Alliance work?

JG: I found that other festivals were concerned about how a new event would affect them. Many had been around for a while and invested a great deal to ensure their continued success. I think they were amazed that by adding a new festival, it created more demand to attend other film events.

Since starting the DC Film Salon and DC Shorts Festival and then rolling them into the DC Film Alliance, I have found that organizations are reluctant to share resources for fear of becoming irrelevant or having to use their energy to compete. The truth has been that as the film community has become more open (in part to the digital revolution), organizations are seeing memberships increase, and their role as more influential than before. I honestly believe that if we all played in the same sandbox, we'd all be a lot happier, and maybe relaxed.

KB: Was there a moment when you knew that DC Shorts would work?

JG: The night before the first screening, we sold out the show. Then the phone began to ring with people clamoring for tickets and to be put on the wait list. When I arrived at the theater at 10 AM the next day, there was a line to be included on the list for the 3 PM show. That’s when I finally began to relax.

KB: What did you gain from creating film festival?

JG: My hair went grey faster, and I gained a few pounds. But seriously, I think the experience — and the planning of subsequent festivals has allowed me to put my talents into perspective. I see hundreds of short films every year. I see some awful crap, and a few films of true genius.

I might be a good film director, but I am not a great director. It’s better that I help talented filmmakers to reach for a higher level — linking them with the right people and community. In helping them achieve greatness, I get the satisfaction of making the industry a little better. And the praise is more than enough for me.

KB: I understand that you are going to be touring with me for part of the Fall Tour, are you and Pilot the opening act, or am I?

JG: I think we are both the opening act for Pilot. In my opinion, there are few people in the industry as genuine and honest as you -- which is precisely the reason why you (and I) are sometimes shunned by the so-called "insiders." Filmmakers deserve honest and clear answers to their questions. I think that this is the quality which endears us to audiences -- and why people often come to hear us speak.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

My New Film

is almost 28 years old.   And that’s why I need your help.

I started shooting my documentary Dangerous: Kay Boyle in 1986.

This film needs to get finished and that’s why I am posting this.

Kay Boyle was an extraordinary woman. When I met her she was one of the last living American Expatriates from Paris in the 1920’s. She witnessed and wrote about almost every major of the event of the 20th Century. In addition to the eighteen novels, sixty short stories, children’s books, the volumes of poetry and essays she wrote, she still found time to have three husbands and six children. She lived a life that most of us could only dream of and she always went out of her way to help people that were less fortunate than she was.

I got to know Kay in the last few years of her life and she was a vibrant personality. I filmed with her, Studs Terkel, Grace Paley, Jessica Mitford, and many other close friends and family. Her legacy needs to live on and it will in this film.

I need to raise $6000 to have the 25,000 feet of original camera negative transferred to tape so I can edit this movie. I have negotiated a great price with a company specializing in film to tape transfers.

I know times are tough and the economy is in bad shape, but I am hoping you could contribute something. $25, $50, $100 or more. However you can help.

Please go to my website ( go to the menu bar, scroll over “Kay Boyle” and learn more about this amazing woman. You will also find PayPal Donate buttons there at the bottom of the pages. It only takes a minute to donate and it would mean a lot to me.

Oh and Harris (my attorney) wants me to tell you that your contribution is not tax deductible. It is considered a gift. And no, you don't own a piece of the movie, but maybe I can get you nice seats at the premiere.

Thanks for reading this I really do appreciate it.



PS If you would rather send a check Please make it out to Square One Productions and put in the memo space that it is for the "Kay Boyle Film" and send it to...

Kelley Baker
PO Box 8322
Portland, OR 97207