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Have Films, Will Travel

Have Films, Will Travel

Articles - Directing

Had to be Made Film Festival’s co-founders Donna Du Bain,
Mike Kyle and Richard Green at Penny Lane in Pasadena, CA.

The traditional film festival
is defined not only by its film selections, but by its geographical
location. Cannes
wouldn’t be Cannes without Southern France, Sundance wouldn’t
be Sundance without Park City, condos and skiers. For moviemakers,
attendees and distributors, navigating the festival circuit means
extensive travel plans. Increasingly however, some festivals are
offering the opposite: mobile venues.

Scott Beibin and his Lost Film Festival will
spend 200 days on the road in 2003. During the trip, the fest
will play its 30 films everywhere
from major film festivals like SXSW and Sundance to community
centers and college campuses. Beibin travels with his films,
projectors and merchandise, often
staying with friends he’s made along the way. The festival,
started in 1999, emphasizes inclusion rather than competition,
there are no awards and all screenings cost $5 to make it feasible
for
as many people as possible to see the films.

“The whole thing about traveling with
film is being flexible about where you play, to never have a
big head and to use this opportunity
to actually connect with the people that you’re showing
it to,” said Beibin. “One of the problems with
independent film is that there’s such a separation between
the creators of the film and the audience.”

Unlike Beibin, Gianna Chachere, director of
the Park City alternative fest Slamdance, doesn’t always travel with her films. But she
does ensure that they get to a multitude of locations. After its
annual January event, the festival’s “On the Road” segment
shows individual festival films in Cannes and locations throughout
America. The festival has also set up a permanent agreement
with the Pioneer Theater in New York City to show its films
on a monthly
basis.

“We’re in a position where we have the films,” says Chachere. “We
want to give the filmmakers the most exposure that we can.
If there’s
an opportunity, and it’s cost-effective, then we’ll
do it.”

Slamdance has screened its slate of films as
far afield as China and Poland, but also in smaller American
venues including
Chachere’s
hometown of New Orleans and the Wyoming ski resort of Jackson
Hole.

The most local of all the traveling festivals,
however, may be Richard Green’s Had to Be Made Film Festival.
Here, audience members participate by visiting their
neighborhood independent
video store.
The festival releases two DVD programs, each including
a
feature, two short films, a profile of the filmmakers
and coming attractions
each month over a five-month period. Video store customers
then vote for the winning films online. The winners are
announced in a gala event in Las Vegas twice a year, once in
January and again in July.

Participating moviemakers receive 20 percent
of the gross revenue from the sales of their film to the video
stores
through the
festival. The goal of the festival, according to Green—who also runs
Next Step Studios—is similar to that of any other
festival: to get films seen by a large audience and
noticed by buyers.

“Whether we end up offering them a Had
to be Made special release or we put them in touch with all the
independent DVD
distributors working with us, our goal is to establish a market, help
make introductions and give filmmakers the potential for independent
distribution.”

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