Martin Rhodes
Martin Rhodes

For most people, the term “digital movie” implies
only that a project was shot on a digital camera-without taking
into account the post-production process. But for Martin Rhodes,
founder of the biannual DV Awards, the term is not that specific. “I
think you’d be hard pressed to find anybody out there who produces
anything that isn’t done digitally in some aspect,” he says. As
a result of this expanded definition, the works that are celebrated
with the DV Awards include those shot on both film and video-but
have been “touched” by digital technology in some way. Whether
it’s a music video or television commercial, short documentary
or feature comedy, Rhodes’ year-old competition is changing the
way people view-and define-digital projects.

Here, Rhodes speaks with MM about the future of his competition
and where he thinks the digital revolution will eventually lead

Jennifer Wood (MM): How did the idea for the DV Awards
first come about?

Martin Rhodes (MR): I work at a production company. A few
years ago, in one day, we had three people who came in with DV
material they needed dubbed. We realized that there were very few
venues for them to show this work, and thought that we would create

MM: While many people consider the digital
medium only as it relates to shooting, you take post-production
into account,
as well. Can you talk about your definition of a “digital” film?

MR: That’s a blurry definition that seems to be changing
all the time. I think you’d be hard pressed to find anybody out
there who produces anything that isn’t done digitally in some aspect.
The only exception I know of would be Steven Spielberg, who I understand
still edits the old-fashioned way. Still, a lot of his films are
touched up digitally with color correction and CGI.

Basically what we’re saying is that “digital” touches everything.
We’re targeting people who are shooting on DV, but we’re not excluding
others. We’ve seen several 35mm works submitted that have been
edited on Final Cut Pro. Really, we’re jumping on the bandwagon
of all this availability of low-cost editing equipment and desktop
editing options.

MM: You mention digital editing as being
a “low-cost” editing
option. I think many people still often equate the terms “digital” and “low-budget.” How
accurate do you think this is, today?

MR: I don’t think “digital” is “low-budget.” It’s the time,
in my opinion, that is the determining factor [to use a digital
option]. You can spend a small amount of time and not get very
good results or you could spend a lot of time and get much better
results, but you wouldn’t necessarily be spending that much money.
In my opinion, because of digital, you can get much better results-both
technically and aesthetically-because it makes things much more

MM: In addition to feature films, you accept and judge
television commercials, music videos, corporate and sports videos.
Do you see one of these types of projects benefiting from the medium
more than the others, or do you think that each type of project
can benefit from the ease of digital medium equally?

MR: Oh yeah, I think it benefits just
about everything. As far as television and video, it’s not so much of a departure
from what’s been done in the past as it is for film and feature-length
stuff-that’s been the biggest departure.

MM: In the past 10 years, which aspect
of moviemaking do you think has been the most dramatically affected
by the so-called “digital

MR: I guess editing. Because now the
director can truly have his own cut. He can sit on his laptop
and truly have a “director’s
cut.” With programs like After Effects, there are incredible things
that you can still do on a desktop and you can do your own limited

We had a guy come in here to do a commercial
all on Premiere and After Effects. And it was a pretty stunning
little piece of work
because he just went out and shot a few shots on Mini DV and he
came in here, had it dubbed over and now it’s running on the Sci
Fi Channel.

MM: In the next 10 years, which areas of moviemaking
do you see becoming even more affected by the digital innovation?

MR: I think it’s going to continue into feature films-especially
stuff that’s shot for television. I think it’s going to be almost
all shot on HD or some digital format. I think there will be some
people like Spielberg who still hold out on true film, but I think
the majority of the stuff is going to be done digitally. On the
low level right now, I think it’s already made a big jump. Going
into feature stuff, I think it will continue. A lot of those people
don’t change that easily, but I think the bean counters will dictate

MM: Where do you see the biggest need-or most room-for
improvement of the digital technology, as far as the future is

MR: Probably, and I know they’re going this route, in projection
and digital cinemas. There are some fairly new movie theaters in
my area, and I remember thinking-even a few years ago-that I was
getting a better picture watching something at home on DVD that
at the theater. So I think they’re going to have to address that
soon. And to be honest, I have not seen a true digital cinema yet.
But I think that’s going to happen.

MM: With the DV Awards, can you let know a little bit
more about them: they take place twice a year, correct?

MR: Yes.

MM: And where and when do they happen?

MM: Well we don’t have a film festival, per se, so we don’t
have any public screenings. It’s more of a contest. We bring in
people who are experts in their industry and have a lot of experience
to do the judging.

MM: When did the event first start?

MR: Last fall, so we’ve had two Awards
so far.

MM: Where are you hoping the DV Awards go in the future?

Right now, I’m looking at keeping it a judging event. It may grow
to the point where screenings are a demand, but right now I’m not
looking at that. Eventually, I would like to have all the films
screened on the Internet, though we’re probably a year or two away
from that. But I would say if we do a screening, it will probably
be something Web-based.

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