Horrible Imaginings Film Festival

This past weekend, "Night In" screened at the Horrible Imaginings Film Festival. "Hello" screened last year and a few people emailed me to tell me how much they loved the short. So when I got in again this year, I knew I wanted to attend! Thanks to my job at Seed&Spark and the festival director enthusiastically agreeing to offer the Crowdfunding class I teach, I was able to attend the entire festival. Of the 60ish shorts, I saw 45! And I saw 4 out of the 5 in competition features. Every screening had at least 40 people in the audience, most had more. The films were all excellent. I have truly never seen better overall programming, especially at a horror festival. So much thought was put into the thematic blocks. And while I typically can't stand sitting through 10+ shorts in a row, I easily did that with these lineups because they were so engaging, fun, and thought provoking. The production quality and storytelling quality were high all around. And thankfully, unlike so many non-women-specific genre fests I've been to, there was no exploitative violence against women! That's always a worry (that often comes true) when sitting through horror lineups. My only issue is that not one of the 5 features was directed by a woman OR person of color. I know they had to work with their submissions, but considering I found the features to be the weak spot (only 2 out of 4 I saw were solid) of otherwise excellent programming, it's frustrating that they couldn't be more inclusive with them. The LGBT block feature (the strongest feature and a real show of commitment to inclusion), for instance, was not a submission but a recommendation by co-sponsors The Two Gay Geeks; so it's unclear to me why they accepted 2 mediocre (all-white and very male dominated, btw) features instead of inviting a deserving woman-directed (ideally WOC-directed) film, even if out of competition. All of that said, the shorts were wonderfully diverse and I truly loved getting to be part of the festival. I don't usually comment on the programming of a fest because I usually have negative opinions best kept to myself. But in this case, because it was so close to perfect, I had to bring this up. I hope next year is as well done but just more inclusive on the feature front! And I know Miguel Rodriguez, the festival director, will pay attention to that. He's truly a wonderful human being who has such energy and puts his whole heart into this fest. It really shows. It's one of the only festivals I've been to with no tech issues and was always on time. Miguel makes every filmmaker feel seen and appreciated. And he's just so genuine and thoughtful. He puts on a great show! And the way the community comes out to support is really inspiring and exciting.

As for my actual screening. I was in a fun block called Dark Wish Fulfillment. It had 10 shorts total and was the biggest Q&A with the highest filmmaker turnout -- 8/10 were there. We had over 60 people in the audience. Unfortunately, with such a big group in the Q&A and very little time for each film, I didn't really get to talk about my film - which was disappointing. I think being so short and in the middle of the lineup made us a bit overshadowed. But I was honored to be in such excellent company. And people did come over after to say they loved the twist. And it got HUGE laughs at all the right moments, so that was fun to watch with an audience. Overall, I'm grateful to have screened in this beautiful venue as part of such a great fest. And on top of that, I got to spend 2 days hanging out with fellow filmmaker friend Kim Garland (who recently moved from NY to LA) because her excellent short, "Body Image," also screened -- in the block before mine! I definitely hope to attend again next year!

Picture Lock! (About a Donkey Seed&Spark Update)

Hey there wonderful About a Donkey Supporters!

Exciting news, we've reached picture lock! This means we're done playing around with the pacing and shot choices, and our edit is locked in place (with an 80 minute runtime). And since we've already started a rough sound mix, color grade and score, we're feeling very confident about making our end of month deadline!

To celebrate, here's a quick video that features a frame for every shot captured through principal photography!

We got to this milestone through a really beneficial feedback screening, which you can read about HERE

And through a quick pick-up shoot Sunday night! I went into the feedback screening feeling like one character's arc was lacking a certain something, and the screening gave me clarity on what that was. I avoided the thought of shooting anything new with the actor, though, because she (Sarah Haruko) had moved to LA. However, a perfectly timed work trip allowed me to brainstorm a quick scene that could be shot on the west coast and effectively fill in this narrative gap. Thanks to Sarah for being fully committed to finishing up this film, Chris Orsi for helping shoot, and friends Cat Papadimitriou & Chris Haddix for loaning a camera, we pulled it off! 

Check out a raw screenshot. 

I even make a cameo!

Thank you all for making this possible. Stay tuned for more as we make progress through post-production!

IndieWorks: August Recap

Last Tuesday was the August edition of IndieWorks, and what a night it was! We screened 4 films and had over 45 people in house despite the rainy evening. It was one of our strongest-quality monthly lineups ever with dramatic films that approached important social issues from nuanced, character-focused, and often incredibly creative perspectives.  All the pieces of the night resonated with the audience differently, and some very thoughtful discussions were had.

Something we're really disappointed in ourselves about though is that one film of the night had a tech issue and only 12 of the 15 minutes could be fully played. In the almost 5 years of holding a screening every single month, we've never experienced this before. We always check the films multiple times, so this was a really frustrating occurrence. We take it very seriously, as we are a screening series by filmmakers for filmmakers. So we assure anyone who was there or reading this that we will be working over the next month with our venue to figure out what happened and make sure it doesn't happen again. Despite this error though, the filmmakers were so understanding and still had a really engaged Q&A! The night was quite inspiring in various ways.

We'd 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 for Web Series Month on September 19th. (Anyone who was there and didn't receive an email with a private link to the film that didn't get to finish, send us a message through our site and we'll pass it along!)

See photos from the evening below:

The Films of the night:

Santi (Directed & Written by Mateo Marquez)
When violence erupts at home, a young man must decide whether to flee or remain by his family's side.

Madness (Directed & Written by Tae Jung Choi)
AEun Ju is the perfect 1990’s Orange County Korean American House Wife, but when her son, drastically misbehaves in front of her Sunday Church group, Eun Ju must confront her own suppressed internal madness in order to protect her son.

Pickup (Directed by Jeremiah Kipp & Written by Jessica Blank)
A compelling film that allows the audience to take a deeper look into the psyche of a woman who appears to have it all. Through her banal daily routine, Megan develops an addiction that begins to unravel her carefully put together life. She is grappling with wanting more , but is feeling tremendously guilty because she already lives the "ideal perfect life".

Fresh Blood (Directed & Written by Richa Rudola)
When a young South Asian girl is forced into the sex trade, she must choose her path to freedom even if it involves a vampire.

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 StoryDialogue/WritingDirectionActingCinematographySoundEditing, and Production Value, along with a nuanced discussion focused on inclusion and originalityThe Silver Whiskers winner goes on to screen again at our end of year Best of Fest screening next April. 

The Silver Whiskers winner also receives $50 towards a crowdfunding campaign on SeedandSpark.com should they use the platform and a free Social Media audit ($200 value) from 4MileCircus

For the August 2017 lineup, our winning films were:
    Audience Choice Award:  "Fresh Blood"
    Silver Whiskers Award:  "Madness"

Join us next month for our September (Web Series) edition on the 19th!

It's not too late to submit your series. We're accepting episode submissions until August 31st.

One filmmaker of the night, Mateo Marquez, is an alum whose previous short "The Blood in Our Veins" won the Golden Whiskers Award at our Year 4 Best of Fest. He's currently crowdfunding his latest short. Help him and his team hit 500 followers to unlock Filmmaker Awards on Seed&Spark.