Most commercials are heartless, but branded films offer a new, more freeing type of collaboration that ties together a filmmaker’s vision with a brand’s core idea. No one did that better than Qiao Li with Kitty & Lala: 80 Impression, a branded film done in collaboration with Intel and their Visual Life documentary series. The short reveals a hyper-creative, rebellious youth rising up in Chinese culture today and their rejection of all things traditional.
Crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter are proving new ways of making films on just ambition and a popular idea. But few have done it with greater success than director Kirby Ferguson, who in the past year has become a fully self-employed filmmaker who travels the world giving screenings and talks. His four-part Everything is a Remix series, which reveals the hidden (some may say ‘stolen’) influences in popular music, movies, and products, has become the ultimate crowdsourced film project. Not only is the series funded by fan donations, but major sequences are also made by fans through a collaboration that has made it impossible to separate the process from the product. With Everything is a Remix, Kirby shows us the power in closing the gap between creator and audience.
With shorts like Beyond Black Mesa (Half-Life) and Avatar Days (World of Warcraft), unofficial fan films are becoming both an art form in themselves and a proven way of breaking into bigger, paid, work. Dan Trachtenberg’s Portal: No Escape brings the popular video game to life with impressive effects and cinematography that propelled it into web stardom as one of the year’s most watched shorts (7+ million views). With many sci-fi shorts focusing more on technique than substance, Portal brings a breath of fresh air with a captivating story that builds and surprises.
Many filmmakers view the web and film festivals as an either/or proposition. Our recent Sundance Playlist hopefully makes a dent in that perception, but even more valuable in breaking down this wall longterm, will be the increased interaction of festivals and the web. Tons of big-name festivals debut new work through online programs now, and films like Brink, made available through Tribeca’s YouTube program, get the accolades of playing a respected festival, as well as the broad exposure that the web offers. With almost half a million views, Brink’s story of two lovers who meet amidst the world’s final moments is the kind of epic romance that wins our heart—and the hearts of many, many others evidently.
A year ago, interactive films were little more than failed experiments. Welcome to Pine Point found the right mix of linear narrative and exploratory interaction to keep you engaged without asking too much. But most importantly, the film put technology in the back seat (“Storytellers must understand that technology is not content”—Paul) and brought a rare touching story that put interactive films on the map. It also put The Goggles (art directors behind Adbusters) on the map as filmmakers who’ve made a “wholesale shift into the creation of immersive digital experiences”. They are currently planning their next interactive doc project on the death of print.
Best Travel Film—Eat. Learn. Move.
Who’s crazy enough to travel the world and film themselves walking, eating, and trying everything in their path? Rick Mereki. This triptych of 1-minute films instantly made 14 million viewers wish they were someplace else.
Best Faux Trailer—Zombinladen
Trailers are a new way of proving a larger idea in a smaller format. Some like Hobo with a Shotgun, have even found their way into features. The same studio released the impressively-produced Zombinladen—the modern grindhouse film that both chills and entertains with a zombified Osama bin Laden. Too soon? For exploitation trailers… never.