Wednesday, September 28, 2011

2011 IFF - Independents' Film Festival

The Independents' Film Festival took place in Tampa, September 15-17 2011.  

I went to the IFF Saturday Extravaganza to have the chance to catch the screening of Rust and watch one of our directors accept the award for Best Florida Film.  I am so glad I had the chance to be part of this project.  This intriguing short is beautifully made and the story woven really well both on paper and on screen.  It is exciting to know that it is being seen and appreciated.  It was a wonderful experience working with both the cast and crew during the making of it as well.

I  got to see a number of the winning entries.  I wish I had been able to see them all, especially since I was truly impressed with the ones I did get to see.  There was a mix of indie shorts, student films, music video and animation.

 Let's start off with my personal favorite winner, "Rust".  "Rust" was one of the really great films brought together by the IFF.  It's a story of love, hate, ghosts and sweet revenge.  Here's a link to the trailer for you to get a glimpse:

One of my favorites was the Best Indie Foreign Short called "Pizzangrillo", directed by Marco Gianfreda.  It was a sweet, funny movie with moments that tugged at your heart-strings.  The humor was seemingly unintentional.  In a span of  few minutes, you cried, you laughed and left with a heartwarming smile.  This one is from Italy. 

I'm not used to seeing black and white, silent films but here was one.  "The Magic Man" directed by DC Kasundra won Best Indie Mini Film.   This was combined with modern visual effects so it adds a different touch.

There were two animated films.  "My Brother Greg" by Philllip Enders, won Best Indie Animation. "Defective Detective", by Avener Geller and Stevie Lewis of Ringling School of Art and Design,  won Best Student Animation.  Both were funny, and very well done.

"Deep Blue Breath" is a really special film.  This was a film made with the help of the Make a Film Foundation which works with terminally ill children.  It is written and stars Clay Beabout, about his experience with Vater Syndrome.  It is a mixture of live action and animation.  It is a touching and inspiring movie.  It won Best Indie Short film.

"Picture Day" by Ken Adachi from FSU won Best Student short film.  This is the first time I've had the chance to see an FSU student film and I liked what I saw.   A young man obsessed with the impact of his school picture risks losing his sense of self and possibly his friend over it.

Other award winners filmmakers I have the good fortune to know were Clint Mourino for "War of our Children" and Banks Helfrich for "The Ah of Life".  Here's some information on Banks Helfrich's next project:

Last but not least is a "most excellent" music video, Liberty, by Ben Disinger that  won Best Student Music Video.   I agree with Ben that " needed to be said" which was his response when asked why he chose to make this video.  Let me know what you think:

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

MIFF 2011

Ariel Barone and I on the big screen

MIFF stands for the Melbourne Independent's Film Festival. I'll give you one hint, it's not down under.  

It's a two day event with screenings and a couple of parties. All very reasonably priced I might add.

Here are a few of my favorites:

Chasing Reality -  directed by Chris Kridler won Best Documentary. Now here's a reality show I'm actually inclined to watch. It was actually fun, interesting, humorous.  It gives me intelligent real-life characters with a mission and purpose in life. They are thrill seekers - it may not be classified as an extreme sport - but it should be since it is just as dangerous if not more.  As a result of what some may call their insanity, we get to learn about mother nature and get a glimpse inside this force in a way we never could otherwise.  Honestly, I wasn't expecting to find it funny or entertaining and I was pleasantly surprised.

Maybe -  directed by Kevin Shah.   A short about a man's adventure or should I call it misadventures in dating.  In this case, let's call it attempts, since that's probably more accurate.  Really good writing.  You felt bad for the main character while you couldn't help laughing at him at the same time.   Is that wrong?  Liked the little twist at the end.  If only...

The Adventures of Monty Moudlyn - directed by Zach Hibbard.   Have you heard about this overly optimistic fellow that can't keep his feet on the ground, just can't be brought down... to earth.  You know? That person who's just always unreasonably happy?  Well, that's Monty for you.  

If you want to watch this fun little short here's the link:

The Breakdown - directed by Robby Sparks. This is a really cute and funny, animated short.  It's less than two minutes long but what a ride!  Misty Posey, a fellow actor, also worked on this really well put together piece.  
This was awarded Best Animation and Best Art Direction.

Twilight of Youth - directed by Jerald Fine.  We are taken on an ironic trip of one individual into the zone of dread - filled with grey hairs, wrinkles and possibly false teeth too.  That's the character's opinion, not mine...just to be clear.   It makes me think of a Twilight zone-esque theme.  Interesting and thought provoking with a lot of good music in it too.

Happenstance - directed by Sandy Pranjic and Victoria Strehlau was a Canadian entry. No words but they say a picture is worth a thousand words and this little piece had a lot to say.  Another thought provoking short, a must-see for teens.  Just think about it.

Butterflies directed by Ester Brym.  A feature documentary about six youtube stars. As some one also very enamored with the web and video sites like Youtube, it was really cool to get a glimpse into this new media community.  Their reality is interesting and entertaining unlike some others I won't mention here.  You know the ones I'm talking about.

I also got a sneak preview of "The Space Coast" by Lear Bunda.  This looks like it's going to be a really fun movie.  Hope I get the chance to see it.

Following the screenings Saturday morning, there was also a Q&A with the filmmakers.  I saw some familiar faces in the row of filmmakers in front of me.  In addition to Zach Hibbard who I worked with on "The Adventures of Monty Moudlyn", there was Lee Thongkam with his beautifully made feature - "Tears of Remedy". This movie has been making the film festival rounds.   From the reviews it is apparent that it has really good production quality because people comment how they find it hard to believe it didn't cost so much more to make when they find out the movie's budget.  Pete McMasters was also present.    

I always enjoy listening to how other people got to where they are, what their catalyst was and learn about their process.  There is so much to learn from an individual's creative journey.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Something Better? Something new?

One of my goals for the summer was to add something new to my skill sets and to continue improving my craft to be a more skillful and versatile actor.
Working with an acting coach on a regular, weekly basis was a step in that direction. So that takes care of practicing acting.
So many things to learn and exciting new talents to choose from when it comes to adding something new.  
Do you have any suggestions for me?