Solo, Piano - NYC with Anthony Sherin

SOLO, PIANO – NYC, by director Anthony Sherin has played at festivals around the world and has won many awards. Thanks to Anthony's astute eye and creative spirit, this unplanned short doc, unfolded before his eyes one winter's day in New York City.  This short feels like an ode to NYC.  From his home in Washington Heights, Anthony shared one of those special stories it feels you can only capture in New York.

About:  Anthony’s short film, SOLO, PIANO – NYC, was selected as one of the outstanding photo projects of today by the 2013 Look3 Festival of the Photograph and was featured in the New York Times’ Op-Docs Series. SOLO, PIANO – NYC, winner of eleven awards, is screening at festivals around the world.

His documentary, ORIGINAL INTENT: The Battle for America, aired on PBS.

Anthony trained with several Academy Award winning film editors and is himself an accomplished editor. His editing credits include THE CURE (Universal), A SOLDIER’S SWEETHEART (Paramount/Showtime), and FIRST TIME FELON (HBO). He edited ONE YEAR LEASE, winner of the best short documentary award at the 2014 Tribeca Film Festival.

How long have you been directing/writing?  8 years

How many films have you directed? 2 short films

What is your top advice for first-time directors? Read a lot and watch films.  Learn a skill. For me, editing made the transition to directing an easier one.

Is there any one part of the process that you enjoy more than the others? I enjoy prepping projects – research and thinking. I love editing.

Solo, Piano - NYC

Solo, Piano – NYC is a 5-minute film of the last 24 hours of a once-wanted piano.

Solo, Piano – NYC is a 5-minute film of the last 24 hours of a once-wanted piano.

What kind of camera did you shoot on? Solo, Piano – NYC is made with stills.  I used a Panasonic ZS7. I now use a Panasonic GH4.


What drew you to wanting to tell this story?  Making this film was pure serendipity. After a snowstorm in New York City, I decided to do some work on another film, in my home in Washington Heights. But as I approached my desk, I thought I heard a piano plinking. I looked out the window and saw a piano on the curb below. I eventually started snapping stills and thought I would end up with just that — a lot of stills. To my surprise, I discovered after 24 hours that I had captured a story with a beginning, middle, and end. My friend Art Labriola created an original piano score, and I had a film.


To learn more about Anthony, check out his site here.

Watch Solo, Piano - NYC NOW!

 

 


ICE from director Barry Stevenson, screening NOW

We are thrilled to introduce director, Barry Stevenson, to our VFF community.  Barry lives in Colorado and is the owner of Outside Adventure Media.  ICE focuses on recreational ice climbers.  Even if you're not a climber, you won't be able to help but catch the enthusiasm of the climbers that Barry has captured in this adventure short film.

About: Barry Stevenson is an award-winning film maker and EMMY® Award-winning video producer.  He has been nominated for two additional EMMYs®.

Barry launched Outside Adventure Media in 2012 to produce marketing videos and adventure films for a wide variety of outdoor industry and small business clients.  He is based in Basalt, Colorado, in the Roaring Fork Valley near Aspen.

His media production experience includes television news photojournalist / video editor and Promotions management at television stations from coast to coast, ending in Dallas/Fort Worth. 

Colorado television stations include KCNC (Denver), KRDO (Colorado Springs) and KJCT (Grand Junction).

He received a BA in Technical Journalism from Colorado State University in 1984.  

How long have you been directing?  Ice was my first film, shot in January, 2013.  I am currently working on two new documentary films. 

Ten New Tigers documents the relocation of ten tigers from a private Texas ranch to an exotic big cat sanctuary near Dallas. 

Building Simplicity follows a master carpenter on his multi-year journey to build an ocean-going trimaran (sail boat) inside an abandoned greenhouse near Aspen.

Is there any one part of the process that you enjoy more than the others? I enjoy the challenge of working as a one-man band where I produce, direct, photograph and run audio alone.  I also love the editing process of bringing all of the pieces together to create a great visual story.

Ice

Why do "normal" people risk their lives to climb on frozen waterfalls each winter? "Ice" examines the emotions and motivations of recreational ice climbers, and shows why one amazing location in Colorado has become the epicenter of the ice climbing world.

Why do "normal" people risk their lives to climb on frozen waterfalls each winter? "Ice" examines the emotions and motivations of recreational ice climbers, and shows why one amazing location in Colorado has become the epicenter of the ice climbing world.

What drew you to wanting to tell this story? I was originally producing a marketing video for the Ouray Ice Park website and social media.  But the story of why recreational ice climbers risk their lives to climb frozen waterfalls demanded a longer format to tell, which resulted in the short adventure film, Ice.

What kind of camera did you shoot on?  Canon 5D II, with 20mm, 50mm and 180mm Nikon prime lenses, and several GoPro 2 cameras.

What were some of the challenges in getting this film made and how did you overcome them?  The greatest challenge was the technical problems created by the record-breaking cold weather that struck Colorado in January, 2013 when Ice was filmed at the Ouray Ice Festival.  In particular, the bitter cold temperatures drained the audio recorder battery so fast that I could hardly use it.  This forced me to record all of the audio with the Canon 5D II that I was shooting with.  Luckily, I had plenty of batteries for the Canon 5D and it performed flawlessly.

To learn more about Barry & Outside Adventure Media, click here.

Watch his short film now!

Online Shorts Fest with Bobby Willis

Some of you may recognize Bobby's face.  He's had a few films at the VFF, including MARK,  the next film in our weekly shorts showcase.  Whether you've seen it at the festival or this will be a first time viewing, we know you'll enjoy it.   Bobby gave himself a good challenge, MARK is an action film shot in still images.


About: Born and raised in Minnesota on Lake Superior’s north shore, Bobby Willis has been a storyteller since he was five years old. He graduated from the University of Minnesota, Duluth were he found his interest in the arts, which then lead him to filmmaking.  He pursued his passion for film by traveling to, and living on, both coasts.  While living in New York and then Los Angeles, Bobby honed his filmmaking and acting talents.  Ultimately, he settled back in Minneapolis. “Making the very art friendly Minneapolis my home, I found I was getting more done than in the typical filmmaking cities," he reflects.

During his first years in Minneapolis, Bobby worked in freelance production, an atmosphere that inspired him to start Digital Hotdish and Below Zer0 Films.  Since then he has had films in several film festivals and has won a national ad contest.  He is currently developing new projects and is sure to be a filmmaker you'll be hearing more about in the near future.

 How long have you been directing/writing?  I’ve been writing since I was five years old. My mother would hand-write my stories down as I dictated them to her. I’ve been directing for nine years.

How many short films have you directed?  Seven short films total, but have directed many more television ads, marketing pieces, industrials, and eLearning videos. Each time is a learning experience.

What is your top advice for first-time directors? Just get out there and do it! We live in an exciting time where getting your hands on a digital video camera is easy. Use your smart phone if you have to and tell a story that fits the type of camera you are using.

Don’t try to tell a bigger story than what your skillset, budget and locations can handle. Short films are great learning tools.

Don’t be afraid to fail. Gather a team, grab a camera and go learn. You’ve already failed if you never take the leap.

Is there any one part of the process that you enjoy more than the others? I might be biased since my background is in post-production, but editing the film is what I enjoy the most. I like to grab a cup of coffee and begin creating. You feel like a painter with your blank canvas and your palette of paint before you.

Mark

A man missing for two weeks is found with no explanation for the strange marks on his hand. Will an interview with a police psychologist uncover their true meaning?

A man missing for two weeks is found with no explanation for the strange marks on his hand. Will an interview with a police psychologist uncover their true meaning?

What drew you to wanting to tell this story? La Jetée by Chris Marker, is one of my favorite short films. The story is told in a ciné-roman style. Which explores telling a narrative using still imagery and a voiceover.  I also am a huge graphic novel fan. So, I wanted to combine both of these interests and see if I could come up with a story I could tell using these techniques.

What kind of camera did you shoot on? Canon EOS 5D Mark II

What were some of the challenges in getting this film made and how did you overcome them? The biggest challenge was that I was using still images to make an action styled film. I had to find creative ways to show action while under those restrictions.

Check out Bobby's short film here!

 

 

 

Interview with Director Rob Carpenter

We're excited to introduce you to Rob Carpenter.  The writer/director of the next short film in our series.  Inspired by Hitchcock and a funny conversation with friend and actor, James Tyce, Rob dreamed up, DIRTY BILL OF HEALTH.

About Rob:  A recent alumni of University of British Columbia for screenwriting with the addition of a fourteen year time line as a producer of independent films. Also a continued acting career throughout the same time line with current appearances on TV Series' (Rogue, The Killing, Psych) and feature films (Date and Switch, The Hard Cut).
As a Producer with a collection of five indie feature films on the global market (with independent film company CS Films) lends an above average result for a small 'off the radar' studio in the current industry climate.

How long have you been directing/writing? I've been unofficially writing/directing for 15 years. Officially, my 'first' effort was a short named ANNA LYNN. It was the first tale in an indie horror feature film anthology called HELL HATH NO FURY. We kicked off with an official selection screening at the Fantasia Film Festival (2006) and moved onto a global distribution deal.

How many short films have you directed? According to IMDB I've done three, but it's more like six.

What is your top advice for first-time directors? All I can really say is that the passion for telling the story will pull you through. Surround yourself with great people and be grateful for their efforts. Get creative, be flexible, adaptable and a problem solver. Take it serious but have a sense of humor about it all. Most of all don't forget to have fun, you're making a movie!

Is there any one part of the process that you enjoy more than the others? I'm pretty much a team player when It comes to anything film. So I'm always genuinely excited anytime I can gather a group of talented individuals (from set design to sound design) to collaborate and throw ideas around. That being said, I guess if I'm only allowed to pick one thing of enjoyment this time around, it would be working with the cast. In the end, the actors are telling the story that the audience is watching. They are why I think the film really works. They got what I was trying to do and gave me their trust to do it.

Dirty Bill of Health

A stranger on a road trip stops in for a random medical check up looking for everything but a clean bill of health.

A stranger on a road trip stops in for a random medical check up looking for everything but a clean bill of health.

What drew you to wanting to tell this story?  If memory serves me right, I believe the idea spawned somewhere between an awkwardly funny conversation over a beer with James Tyce about the worst part of a doctors check up (Can you guess?). Then being in the midst of an obsession viewing binge of old cinema. Specifically a whole slew of Hitchcock originals. Some short time after that I wrote a 50 page pilot that ended up being a 13 minute short film. In the end, to answer the question, I get very clear and vivid visuals in my head (like any story I'm drawn into wanting to tell), They latch on to me until I shoot it and have a film.

What kind of camera did you shoot on? A cannon 5D... but more importantly A Director of Photography (Sasha Popove) who knows it very well.

What were some of the challenges in getting this film made and how did you overcome them? A limited budget is always a challenge but we took the time to prepare and organize all the details for a month before the shoot days. Also, the fact I had a great friend and mega talented producer (Cynthia Potvin) was key to tackling all of it together. The Cineworks film society in Vancouver is always great for an affordable studio space and some equipment rentals. Additionally, I also started directing the cast three weeks prior to filming in rehearsals. All the cast and crew were great with meeting ahead of time and were all willing participants. We were like a well oiled machine by the time when we went to camera. It all went pretty smoothly during filming.

Watch DIRTY BILL OF HEALTH now!

To learn more about Rob, check out his site.

Online Shorts Fest with Callie Lane

Callie Lane's feature script, Unnatural Girl, won 2nd place in our 2008 screenplay contest.  We are thrilled to screen her first short film, TALK, starring Emma Rigby.  You may recognize Emma from the hit tv series "Once Upon a Time in Wonderland".

Click here to watch TALK.

About:  Callie is an award-winning writer-director and producer of film and theatre. She is currently prepping her first feature, the paranormal romance Dickens and Isabella, for an Autumn 2015 shoot.  She is also busy writing Book 2 of her U.S. set Wonderland crime fiction series for a leading international publisher. Book 1 publishes May 2015. She is developing her first crime fiction TV series, The First Detective, with Runaway Fridge Productions (Runaway recently produced Frank starring Michael Fassbender).

How long have you been directing/writing?  From the age of 7 I was writing scripts and bossing around friends and family to ‘star’ in my plays!

How many short films have you directed? Just one.

What is your top advice for first-time directors? Take a deep breath and own your material but never be afraid to ask for help/advice/encouragement.

Is there any one part of the process that you enjoy more than the others? I love it all, from writing, to casting to the final edit. But my favorite part of directing is having to come up with answers to all the questions everyone will ask throughout the process. Especially as writer-director: all eyes are on you! Scary, but true. I find this collaborative process the most creatively rewarding part of the entire process, thinking on your feet and coming up with a new way of doing something/looking at it from someone else’s perspective and/or with their input.

Talk

When Michael's girlfriend Eloise surprises him with a day out at the beach he is blissfully unaware that soon his life will begin to spiral out of control.

When Michael's girlfriend Eloise surprises him with a day out at the beach he is blissfully unaware that soon his life will begin to spiral out of control.

What drew you to wanting to tell this story? The idea just flashed fully formed into my head one day while out lunch shopping! I dashed back to the office and wrote the script in 40 minutes. I’d never had an idea for a short film before…and I’m still waiting for inspiration for the next one!

What kind of camera did you shoot on?  16mm. Film all the way. I insisted on it. I thought it might be the only film I ever make, might as well do it to the best of my abilities before film goes to the great technology graveyard in the sky. It made everything so much more expensive but we’ve had great feedback from audiences so that made all the expense/extra time spent worthwhile.

What were some of the challenges in getting this film made and how did you overcome them?  The British weather almost killed the film stone dead. We had to film on one of the busiest beaches in the UK (Bournemouth), so had to wait until the school vacation was over and families were all done with the beach. That’s early September in the UK. But the weather on the only two days I could keep a cast/crew of 20+ people away from home kept changing from cloudy to brilliantly sunny and was completely screwing up our continuity. You’ll see why continuity of weather is so important when you watch the film. My next film I’m hoping to film in Malta as that’s guaranteed sunshine and hopefully we won’t need to rush out during filming and buy umbrellas for the cast/crew!

Watch TALK now!