Vail Film Festival Behind the Veil

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Vail Film Festival Behind the Veil

VAIl, CO – Vail Film Festival are interesting times, especially for the film industry. Filmmakers are moving away from film as a production medium and actors are looking outside the industry for meaningful work. Producers are targeting niche markets, capitalizing on social media and direct distribution. Combined, these factors make it a great time to be an independent filmmaker and an even better time to enjoy a film festival in the Colorado Rockies.

Now in its 8th year, the Vail Film Festival happens on the first weekend in April. Warm weather, great spring skiing and a comfortable infrastructure make this a coveted venue for independent filmmakers wanting to showcase their work and network with peers. The Festival draws thousands of visitors to Vail annually and this year 5% of proceeds went to support relief efforts in Japan.

Cinematographer Kriss Kossgrove moderated a 48-hour short film contest using the Olympus Pen Digital SLR (DSLR). He cited the season finale of House and the POV shots on the recent feature Secretariat as examples of how DSLRs have ‘leveled the playing field in production.

Kat Coiro screened her short film Idiots, starring festival honoree Kate Bosworth, who received an Excellence in Acting award. Bosworth’s screen credits include Blue Crush, Superman Returns, Beyond the Sea, and 21. Idiots can be seen here.

Coiro just wrapped a feature, BBF & Baby, also starring Bosworth and explained how the slowdown in Hollywood feature film production has made top acting talent available to independent filmmakers, for little or no money. Top actors reduce the financial risks to producers, since pre-sold international distribution rights can guarantee several million dollars in revenue, before the film is even finished.

Josh Lucas (Sweet Home Alabama, Glory Road) received the Vanguard Award this year and premiered two interesting films, Red Dog and Daydream Nation. Red Dog, a true legend from the Australian Outback, won this year’s Audience Award. Lucas extolled the rewards of working in independent cinema, despite the challenge of an 18-day production schedule for Daydream Nation and working with a canine diva in Red Dog.

Michael Imperioli (The Sopranos, Summer of Sam, The Lovely Bones) was honored with the Renegade Award, based on his long career in independent film as an actor, writer, director and producer. The crowd was able to enjoy his wry sense of humor as he recounted some of the more macabre moments on the set of the Sopranos.

The Blue Sky Tribute award honors environmental activism and this year’s winner was the film The Clean Bin Project, documenting a couple that attempts a zero-waste year. Jen Rustemeyer and Grant Baldwin take an honest, fun look at this effort. Their trailer can be seen here.

Across the board, producers are exploring new options for film marketing and distribution. Online distribution provides filmmakers with a wider audience for their work. Director Kat Coiro enjoyed having 1 million people view her Idiots short, versus 30 at-a-time via traditional means. Social media marketing combined with self-distribution can effectively nurture a core following into a solid revenue stream.

Festivals are also taking on a larger role in advertising a project. The Vail festival has a reputation for taking good care of filmmakers, generating press coverage, delivering big audiences for screenings, and fostering a sense of community over the course of the weekend.

Writer/Director Valerie Weiss, a Harvard PhD scientist-turned-filmmaker, premiered her feature-length romantic comedy Losing Control following the Awards.

If you enjoy spring skiing and independent films, be sure and mark your calendars for the first weekend in April, 2012!

Best Adventure Film “Downhill: The Bill Johnson Story”
Olympus PEN Short: “Running Colors”
Best Student: “God of Love”
Best Documentary: “Saving Pelican 895″
Best Short: “The Interview”
Best Feature: “Boy Wonder”
Audience Award: “Red Dog”

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