When I began my strategy for distributing Giant Visions of Tiny Places, a short character study of tiny house pioneer, Brad Kittel, of company Tiny Texas Houses, to festivals, it became immediately clear that as a returning native filmmaker to Texas, I wanted to take advantage of the diverse landscape of film festivals and showcases that dot the state.
“Giant Visions of Tiny Places” – Brad Kittel’s interview featured in this screen capture.
It has been my belief that regional cinema is one of the great ways independent filmmaking can move forward in the twenty-first century.
If we focus our lenses on local stories and on servicing audiences who have been previously ignored, we may find that our cinema is able to directly serve the growth of regionally specific communities with their own diverse heritage and personalities.
Fort Worth Indie Film Showcase was a terrific opportunity to do just that.
Following my screening at Hill Country Film Festival, I received notification that the film was accepted to its second showcase. One never knows with these smaller festivals if they will turn out to be worthwhile or a disappointment. That said, it was with my defenses up that I embarked to attend the FWIFS, knowing I could be disappointed by a smaller turn out, or disappointing screening conditions.
To my great pleasure and surprise, I arrived at the showcase for the early morning slot to find a passionate group of filmmakers and film-lovers excited to see the film.
Most every festival I have brought work to over the last six years that I’ve been screening work has always adopted the formula of showing work in a block and then having all the present filmmakers come up for a panel discussion together.
While this can on occasion be a great and deeply stimulating way of conducting a discussion among filmmakers, a lot can be lost by formatting discussions in this way. If the audience feels most provoked to ask questions to one filmmaker on the panel, other filmmakers may be ignored.
But a similar disadvantage is that audience members may not feel comfortable asking specific questions to particular filmmakers and instead only ask very general boring questions that apply to all filmmakers. If the block has been curated particularly well, and all the films share some common features, group discussions can offer the audience a lively discussion between informed filmmakers.
More often than not, however, I feel my experience with group discussions falls far short of this high-water mark.
One of the great surprises of Fort Worth Indie Film Showcase was the abandonment of this method in favor of a far more populist approach. Because the screening room was fairly small, the whole affair had the feeling of a impassioned town-hall meeting.
After each film, if a representative of the film was present, he would come up in front of the audience and answer questions for five to ten minutes before the next short was screened.
This approach led to a great deal of interactive discussions, resembling more of a dialogue between audience member and filmmaker.
The questions were far more interesting than most I’ve received at festivals, allowing me to discuss a number of the more interesting uniquely cinematic problems that faced the construction of context in Giant Visions of Tiny Places.
Ultimately, the showcase was a great experience all around, with brilliant filmmakers peppering discussions and screenings with insights from their explorations in cinema and in working in the fiercely subversive territory of regionally driven independent cinema.
I’m excited to bring Giant Visions of Tiny Places back to the hill country for a special screening in Mason, Texas, this September – and to the Houston area for Gulf Coast Film Festival later that month.
More adventures in regional cinema to come, I’m sure. I will try to document them more completely here going forward.