Tuesday, April 29, 2008

What is a Filmmakers Alliance Film?

People often ask what constitutes a Filmmakers Alliance (FA) film. The short answer is any film that is made by an FA member is an FA film. But clearly, people have seen a preference at work when we make selections for events like VisionFest or a public screening at Echo Park Film Center. So, to clarify our preferences and priorities, here's the 5 key elements the film must demonstrate for it to be considered an ideal FA film:

1. FA Film Status
Literally, the film must have been made by an FA member while they were members of Filmmakers Alliance.

2. A Personal POV and/or an Original Voice
Is this a film that could have only been made by this filmmaker? Does this film reflect an aesthetic approach, ideas and/or a view of the world that are unique to this filmmaker? Does this film explore an issue or comment on the world or an aspect of life as the filmmaker sees it and experiences it?

Original voice is the sum of many unique literary, visual, aesthetic choices or interpretations the filmmaker utilizes to express their PERSONAL POV. Original voice can also be the bold interpretation or reinterpretation of what has come before. Does the filmmaker have a unique way of expressing her/his ideas through an innovative use of genre or tone? Does the film have a unique visual style, sound design, etc. that effectively underscore and communicate the thematic elements?

3. Respect for the Craft of Filmmaking
Does this film demonstrate a level of accomplishment in the craft of filmmaking and some level of mastery of film language in the areas of production design, lighting, camera, continuity, sound design, acting, pacing, editing, signifiers, metaphor, dialogue, tonal consistency, etc.?

4. Appreciation for the Art of Filmmaking
Does the film work on many levels – visual, aural, spiritual, intellectual and/or as entertainment? Does the filmmaker appear to have an awareness and understanding of what has come before as far as the history and language of cinema?

5. Respect for the Collaborative Energy of Filmmaking
Was the pre-production, production, and post-production process positive and inclusive? Does the filmmaker graciously acknowledge and honor the contributions of others?

Now, I recognize that all of this sounds like we are only interested in SERIOUS ART. Yes, we are indeed very much interested in creatively ambitious cinema, but even broad comedies and genre films can be made according to these guidelines. In fact they SHOULD be made according to these guidelines if you want to do something singular and therefore memorable. If you are going to lay your heart, soul and ego on the line (not to mention your bank account) to make films, why not aspire to to the highest level of your own creative potential. A failed "Annie Hall" will always be 10 times more interesting and compelling than a thousand successful "American Pie"s. And, there may be a thousand of them before the studios are done. It's FA's goal to provide some small counterbalance to that sad fact....


  1. “Wages of Fear,” “Convoy,” Smokey and the Bandit” and “Duel”

    Remember these great flicks? What are they? Road movies, of course, but more importantly, they are trucking films. Here is a genre nearly forgotten that Navistar, which builds legendary International trucks, hopes to single-handedly revive.

    The company that just launched a revolution in long haul trucking by building the mold-shattering LoneStar Class 8 tractor is now launching another first - a student film competition that will ask aspiring auteurs and cineastes to celebrate the lives and labors of long-distance truck drivers in a short film format.

    You could be the next Spielberg, Sam Peckinpah or even Henri-Georges Clouzot.

    On May 1, 2008, Navistar is sending out a call for entries to approximately 50 universities and film schools around the country asking ambitious filmmakers to hit the road and produce short films or videos that honor the American trucker. These mavericks will then submit their final product in a competition to win film school tuition or top-notch camera equipment.

    Academy award nominated producer/director Brett Morgan (Chicago 10, The Kids Stays in the Pictures) will chair a jury of filmmakers who will judge all submissions. First, second and third prize winners will premiere their films at The Great American Trucking show in Dallas, Texas, on August 22, 2008, and will be featured as streaming content on InternationalTrucks.com. The films will also be included as bonus material on a DVD with “Stand Alone,” Brett Morgen’s upcoming Navistar-funded documentary about truckers.

    It’s time for filmmakers to release the jake-brake, hammer down, and make cinema that really matters, films about real life on the road. Put it this way: if America’s drivers decided to stop working, the entire country would shut down. We depend on truckers to deliver everything we own and consume. Truckers are that important. They are true American heroes.

    Merle Haggard sang it this way: “The whiteline is a lifeline for the nation… It takes a special breed to be a truck drivin' man, And a steady hand to pull that load behind.”

  2. UBATV.com is calling for short film and documentaries entries. UBATV.com is hosting a year long online film festival called Hotdocs and Short Stacks. We will be excepting films with a duration of 2 to 20 minutes from 7-18-08 to 7-17-09. Hot Doc and Short Stack will show case the best document and short narrative picked by industry professional annalist. Each week UBATV will be posting new documentaries and narratives films for everyone to enjoy. If you would like to submit your film please contact Rubin@ UBATV.com for an application and more information visit Submissions@UBATV.com. This is a simple uncomplicated way to get your work seen and to get a prize spot on your resume.