Last Tuesday was the June edition of IndieWorks, and our first of Year 5! We screened 5 films and had over 40 people in house. Smaller crowd than usual, but considering it was the hottest night of the year so far (97 degrees!), it was quite an impressive turnout! Our first two films were dramatic pieces that explored racial and ethnic oppression in different ways. They were beautifully shot, heartbreaking and thought provoking. The second set of films were slightly more hopeful, all exploring the pain but promise of romantic relationships. The styles and genres of those ranged in eclectic and wonderfully enjoyable ways. All the pieces of the night resonated with the audience differently, and some lovely discussions were had. We had some sound snags throughout the night due to how cranked up the air conditioner needed to be for the weather (something we will work to fix for next month). But overall, the night was a big success!
We'd just like to say thank you to everyone who came out to support the filmmakers and spend the evening with us & them. We do hope you enjoyed all the films and the opportunity to network with other filmmakers and film enthusiasts, and we hope some connections were made! AND we hope you'll join us again on July 18th.
See photos from the evening (by Carlos Molina)
The Films of the night:
The Orange Story (Directed by Erika Street Hopman, Produced & Co-Written by Eugene Sun Park)
February 1942. President Roosevelt signs Executive Order 9066, which authorizes the forced “relocation" of 120,000 ethnic Japanese from their homes and into incarceration camps throughout the U.S. Koji Oshima is the proud owner of a small corner grocery store, but he must now abandon everything and report to an assembly center.
Penalty (Directed by Aldo Iuliano/Written by Severino Iuliano & Alessandro Giulietti, Produced by Andrette Lo Conto)
A group of guys plays football in the middle of nowhere. At stake is much more than a simple victory.
The 3rd Try (Directed & Written by Alfonso Rodriguez, Represented by Actor Imana Breaux)
A lesbian couple tries to find solace after experiencing a traumatic loss.
Date & Time (Directed & Written by Craig Nobbs)
A young couple, awash in the glow of new found love, find their fragile bond tested as they go back in time and find that memory is imperfect and they may not be who they thought they were.
Sonnet 23 (Directed by Rebecca Shoptaw)
A modern reimagining of "Sonnet 23" by William Shakespeare.
Watch our Q&A Recap (shot & edited by Kimberly Drew Whiten). *Please know there are some film spoilers - feel free to look for an opportunity to catch the films at a festival or computer screen near you & then come back to watch!
The awards go to...
At the end of the evening, we announced our winning filmmakers for both Audience Choice Award & Silver Whiskers Award. The Audience Choice Award is voted upon by all those in attendance, and the Silver Whiskers Award is judged by the CongestedCat Team based on a system rating 8 categories of Story, Dialogue/Writing, Direction, Acting, Cinematography, Sound, Editing, and Production Value, along with a nuanced discussion focused on inclusion and originality. The Silver Whiskers winner goes on to screen again at our end of year Best of Fest screening next April.
For the June 2017 lineup, our winning films were:
Audience Choice Award: "Date & Time"
Silver Whiskers Award: "The Orange Story"
Our second feature film, About a Donkey, is currently in post-production, only 1/3 of the way through the edit. But we want to keep our supporters feeling included in the process of making it! So here's a special sneak peek at footage from the film!
Follow along for updates: seedandspark.com/fund/about-a-donkey#updates.
About a Donkey is about growing up & growing old, and finding love & laughter along the way. The film follows the Owens family: Ann & Tim, their 3 adult children, Cecilia, Burgh, and Annie (and her husband Paul), and matriarch Farrah. When Tim brings home a donkey in a mixture of wanting to rescue both it and himself, things are shaken up in each of the characters' lives.
The film's quirky but relatable nature has been referred to as a little Little Miss Sunshine meets Gilmore Girls, but with a donkey, and a strong focus on inclusion (both in front of and behind the camera)! We're strong believers in being the change -- reflecting the world as we want to see it. With this film, our mission is to combat hate with humor and heart. Our film is made up of an inclusive cast of characters - both within the film and behind the scenes, but predominantly featuring women. In our film, love is love, people's lives and desires are relevant no matter their age, and struggling with depression is acceptable and normal.
SUMMIT being on Amazon now resulted in a brand new review! Based on a pronoun used at the end of the review, it seems the writer either didn't actually understand the reveal he's critiquing or he's making a tongue in cheek comment. (Probably the latter but it's a weird and confusing choice for a review.) Still though, it's mostly positive! "Raia proves herself to be a quick — hell, an immediate — study when it comes to the little things that make a big difference : the various explorations of the cabin that our erstwhile “heroes” undertake are uniformly well-shot and reasonably fraught with tension (even if there’s no real payoff to be had from any of them), the “driving-around-lost” scenes are very nicely-executed indeed, and small, seemingly throwaway plot points are revisited later with near-devastating effect. All in all this is smart stuff that rewards viewers who pay careful attention to even the most minor goings-on..."
In other news, today makes officially 4 weeks SUMMIT has been on Amazon Prime. Amazon's profit sharing is definitely not meant to benefit or create sustainability for the filmmakers at 15 cents per hour watched in the US (& 6 cents internationally), so nothing to be excited about there. BUT there is some legit discoverability. We haven't shared the link beyond telling existing supporters in two updates. It seems the film just gets daily traffic from within Amazon's search features.
For a no-budget feature with no name/brand recognition, that's pretty cool. Amazon doesn't share extensive data. So we can't tell if that 121,814 minutes watched is 121,814 individual people only watching one minute of the film, 1,522 people watching the entire thing, or somewhere in between. I hope it's closer to less people watching it all though! (We've gotten 5 viewer reviews, so that's at least 5 full watches, haha. I assume more since it's a rare type of person, I think, who chooses to write a review after watching something with no personalized motivation to do so.)
I don't regret releasing it initially on Vimeo on Demand and VHX 2 years ago and driving traffic to those sources. It is very hard to get people to pay to watch one film and we may have only gotten 74 total rentals or sales between the two, but it was basically for everyone who had been anticipating the film for 3 years outside of the 150+ backers who got a free copy via our Kickstarter rewards and the 100+ friends & family who came to our NY premiere. Without a marketing budget, I knew we needed to make the most out of the following we had built through pre-production and the festival run. Releasing it pay per play at first made sense since we made more at 90% of a $2.99 rental or $9.99 purchase than if each of those people just watched it on Prime (which would've resulted in less than 20 cents per view). Now that I and the team have moved beyond wanting to share & promote it constantly, it's nice that it can be discovered by indie genre fans already paying for streaming services.
I'm curious to see how it continues to do on the platform and on Seed&Spark next month!