Nowhere else in Los Angeles could the public have access to such an impressive collection of panelists or attain such valuable information and networking opportunities as was in abundance at the Broad Humor Film Festival, now in its sixth year at the Electric Lodge in Venice, California. It was an extraordinary day of seminars as industry insiders dispensed first rate insights on the nuts and bolts of filmmaking. In the course of one day, attendees were taken on a tour of the entire filmmaking process, from development to distribution, and where entertainment professionals across the spectrum of filmmaking shared their gold nuggets for success, their own personal tricks of the trade.
Moderated by Kevin Winston of DigitalLA.net, Broad Humor’s DIY Day hosted speakers who each, in addition to giving a million little tips, had at least one big take-away idea to help any production at every stage of content production or exhibition.
Why The Web?
Chris Thomes (VP, Digital Media Studios @ Disney ABC TV Group) discussed how the internet makes it possible for content providers to identify and serve the audience you are aiming for. While studios spend big on focus groups, some of the most valuable information for planning can be gotten by going online and asking some simple questions about how people feel as opposed to what they think. Erika Cervantes (President, Co-Founder Comediva) spoke on how video and editorial content for women is on the rise. In an industry that is still lopsidedly employing and representing men, women’s content and female content creators are finding their legs in this ubiquitous marketplace.
The word from this Production Value panel was unanimously preparation. An ounce or pre-production is worth… well, priceless. Filmmaker and professional gaffer Stephanie Syd Yang discussed how planning and creativity could be the answer for filmmakers on a budget (which means all of us). Similarly, Todd Rohrbacher, Founder of the Actors Comedy Studio, drove home the importance of rehearsal time for your actors, giving them what they need to do what they do best. In an art form that is often racing the clock, one of the best ways to take care of your story is to take care of your talent.
The Invisible Edit
Post does not have to be a four letter word. Musician/ Sound engineer Heather Yonker (Madison Media Institute) talked about the popular fallacy of “fix it in post” in relationship to production sound. Putting on a set of headphones rather than assuming your mike is picking up what your ears are hearing, will save the headache of constant wind flutter or a humming refrigerator under your dialogue. Editor Michelle Clay (The Road to Sundance) gave the audience a before and after demonstration of small ways to give a film project polish and avoid pitfalls that “out” filmmakers as amateurs; ways that only cost time, rather than dollars. Moni Boyce (Co-Owner, Managing Director of Greenhouse Studios) expanded on both points and discussed how bumping up the production values of a film project can be a smart and ultimately cost effective expense that should be figured into any film budget.
Upload or Die
Anna Wenger, head of physical production at FOD, brought along a bunch of gals from Funny or Die to this festival aimed at female-generated comedic content. While the traditional channels of movies have only recently been able to see that funny and female can go together, the web has no gatekeeping except laughter. Allison Hord, Betsy Koch, Christin Trogan, Juliet Seniff & Lauren Palmigiano all have been creating comedic content for the web with success. They brought samples of their work and talked about approaches for anybody interested in getting a laugh online.
Next Kevin Winston led the discussion on Distribution Options - getting your work out there. More than ever, there are little known avenues for media content makers of all kinds. Linda Olszewski (Shorts International) discussed a number of partnerships with distribution outlets and what they are looking for in terms of content. Cindy Marie Jenkins (Social Impact Consulting) gave great tips on building you visibility, aka your brand, and finding that audience that is waiting for your content. Susan Johnston (New Media Film Festival) offered intriguing exhibition tips for the less-than-money-savvy filmmaker (again, most of us). Jason Brubaker (Filmmaking Stuff) turned the audience on to several networking and distribution resources free on the web, virtually under the average filmmaker’s nose.
While many filmmakers consider themselves storytellers first, the Ducks in a Row panel drove home the powerful point of monetizing your art in the name of survival. Leimomi Coloretti (Director of Outreach and Development, for Media Services) who served as moderator for the panel, led the discussion on various alternatives and eletronic solutions to managing budgets, schedules and production organization. Greg Monterrosa of My LLC fielded an avalanche of questions about how to make a creative entity also a legitimate business entity. Jim Fitzgerald of LightSPEED Entertainment Production Software offered some creative and budget friendly alternatives to the traditional production management model with a focus on affordability.
Attendees of the Broad Humor DIY Day enjoyed a slew of useful and informative seminars with the opportunity to meet up-close and personal, the folks who are working and succeeding in this fickle, labyrinthine business for the insane price of $50 for the whole day. This was the first workshop day of its kind for Broad Humor, the best kept secret in a sea of LA film festivals. The little film festival that can – and year after year does - in a big way!