ART, COMMERCE AND INDEPENDENT FILM WEEK
It’s been a few days since Film Week and brain synapses are finally reconnecting. We had a quick switch from the NY independent film scene to the commercially-sponsored Wild West of Hollywood (this post brought to you by strip malls). Being out here makes us even more appreciative to IFP and all the hard work they put into making connections for all the filmmakers involved in the project forum. As every filmmaker can appreciate, this past week was a rare respite from having to bang down all those doors just to get some face time. Also, for acting in support of over 100 projects, those were some very unruffled feathers from the IFP staff. Thank you guys, it was an unforgettable week!
What have we learned? On one hand it was really reassuring to know that so many of the things that we’ve been doing on our own have been on the right track: finding awesome and talented crew members for future projects, sharing and receiving feedback from trusted friends and colleagues, constantly generating and revising new material, thinking of ourselves not just as writers but as a company and of our projects as our products which leads us to… Filmmaker or Brand?
A big topic of discussion at IFP was the tension between art v. commerce. It’s an old debate with new vernacular as the possibility of actually turning yourself into a brand via social networking and interactive audience connection plays a larger role in the creative process. Though we respect some people seeing this as a burden or, worse, a necessary evil, the reality for us as 20-something filmmakers is that we’ve come of age in a world in which the person is the product. The personal’s not just political anymore, it’s commercial too. As we develop Pretty To Think So and move forward with our other scripts, it’s our challenge to find the balance between filmmaker and brand.
We also realized this week that the hustle doesn’t end once you’ve found a producer, or after you’ve secured funding, or even after the film’s been completed… now you have to get this labor of love connected to the largest audience. After all, at the root of everything, this is why we work in film: find an interesting story, tell it well and get it seen. Which got us thinking, what is it about Pretty To Think So that connects with people? We can break it down into our personal four quadrants: 1. Young girls with questionable eyebrow-grooming — or the grown women who remember being those girls. 2. Any kid that felt out of place in middle school (which is to say, most everyone) 3. People who’ve experienced immigration in their family (which again, in America, 99% of the population). 4. Any below 5′ Persian-American girl who had to spend a summer in Scandinavia — ok maybe this one is more of a niche audience. But truly, how do we find and engage with this audience?
After listening to many people speak this week it’s become clear that without question we have to reach out to the large Persian communities in the States. But it’s also our job to get out of the box and get online. Before the film is even made you have to engage the audience in the process of creation. For us that means building a world of interest for our protagonist, Mina. Maybe that includes viral videos, or an interactive website, or taking it on the road and hitting up other young karate enthusiasts who’ll relate her journey (read the script! it’ll all make sense).
Let’s wrap it up: as IFP showed us, yes, it is important to make connections by any means possible — meet other filmmakers, people in the industry, be brave and get your ideas out there (and get them out there creatively). Never lose the hustle but never lose sight of what you set off on this journey to begin with: making great films. And this may just be the essential takeaway of the week — make great work and it will get seen.
So we hope one day soon you’ll have the chance to enjoy Pretty To Think So — maybe in a theater, maybe on VOD, maybe on a mobile phone, maybe on a rooftop…
Now for some much-needed rest in sunny California.