Monday, May 6, 2013

Storytelling in Another Medium

By Beth Groundwater

My husband and I are both volunteers for the Breckenridge Festival of Film, which will take place this year September 19 - 22. My husband will be a volunteer projectionist, showing films in one of the viewing venues during the festival. I have volunteered to be the Short Drama Category Head. As such I will watch and review ALL of the submitted short drama films and help the Programming Director select the Short Drama films that will be shown at the festival. Good storytelling is good storytelling, regardless of the medium, and I have been a short story judge for many writing contests in the past. So, I'm putting that experience to use in selecting short films.

My husband and I are also reviewing films in other categories, such as Documentary and Long Drama, when we can. As a fiction author, I'm familiar with the structure of story-telling, and as a former Universal Studios guide and techie friend of Pixar programmers, my husband is interested in the technology of cinematography, sound, and special effects. So, we felt like we had something to offer as reviewers, regardless of the category.

So far, I have watched and evaluated over thirty films. I rated each one on a 5 point scale, with 1 being "a horrible film" and 5 being "yes, definitely include it in the festival." I have also provided a paragraph of text explaining each rating. I've used all of the 5 categories so far, so I've watched some brilliant films and some poorly-made or just plain confusing films.

It's been an interesting experience to be on the evaluation side of the review equation, rather than having my own books evaluated by reviewers and readers. I often find that looking at other people's stories with a critical eye helps me hone my skills in ferreting out negative aspects of my own writing that need fixing. My experience in judging writing contests and participating in critique groups has proven this to be true. And, I expect the same from my film reviewing experience.

It's also exposed me to some very interesting projects. My horizons have been expanded, and I know that attending the festival itself will expand them even more, as it did last year when I attended. I admire the risks that these filmmakers are taking, even when those risks don't pan out. If you have the opportunity to attend and/or volunteer for a film festival near you, I suggest you do it. You'll get a lot out of it. Here's a list of outstanding film festivals to get you started. There are many more, and I'm sure you can find one in your area!

Have you ever attended a film festival? If so, which one? What did you think of it? Please share in a comment!


Deborah Sharp said...

I used to be active in the Ft. Lauderdale Film Festival ... loved seeing some of the gems that no one had ever heard of. How many ratings of 1s did you hand out, Beth?

Beth Groundwater said...

I've used the whole range of ratings, Deb, from 1 to 5, and yes, I've assigned a few 1's. Mostly they were for films that were not appropriate for our family-friendly festival, with too much violence, nudity, drug use, etc. We do choose some films that might get a PG-13 or R rating, but most are suitable for a middle/high school audience as well as adults, even the LGBT films.