WASHINGTON – What to do with $3,000 these days? Go make a film.
“The story,the idea – that's important,” said local filmmaker Lee Bonner at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts on Wednesday when giving advice for young filmmakers. “Today they have cameras where they can at least get their ideas down.”
Filmmaker Gabriel Garcia said that,with all of the technological advances in the last few years,those interested in filmmaking can go through the process of taking their ideas from mind to film for as little as $3,000.
Those films might not compare to the multi-million dollar movies that won Oscars last weekend,but they find audiences at film festivals all over the world.
The weeklong D.C. Independent Film Festival starts Thursday and will showcase 115 films,including features,documentaries,short features and animation. The festival received more than 1,000 entries and will host local,national and international directors.
Washington is the nation's third most important production center,according to the festival's director and founder,Carol Bidault. The festival,in its fifth year,has come a long way from its debut when it was three days with about 30 films. Attendance has tripled since then.
The Kennedy Center showed snippets of four films Wednesday to showcase local filmmakers. Three of the directors introduced and spoke about their works.
The audience got a sneak peak at everything from a film about a duckpin bowling prodigy who dreams of becoming the next David Bowie to a collection of taxpayer-funded informational films about such things as public service and the importance of writing well.
“It's like an after-school special gone bad,” said director Tim Martin about his film,“Rock-N-Roll.”
Bidault said the film is a must-see for anyone who is a David Bowie fan.
The directors talked about how much it cost to produce their films and how long they worked on them. While it took Bonner only five days to shoot his 84-minute film,“Replay,” it took Martin about a year and a half to finish his.
Bonner said in his film “the audience becomes the eyes of the detectives” who come across new evidence in a closed case.
David Nuttycomb,director of “Government Approved! The Films of Warren G. Spaulding,” said all footage for the film came from the National Archives in College Park,Md. He said it took a couple of months to put together,but he and the others who worked on the film had talked about it for years.
Nuttycomb said Spaulding was in charge of all government films from 1917 to 1988 as supervisor of the Federal Film Program.
“It cost almost nothing – all the films were free,we just made dubs. Cost was just what we spent on lunch,” Nuttycomb said.
The directors at the screening said they financed their films themselves. But they said it's beneficial to have good networking skills,to know people who will chip in and thrift stores that will donate costumes.
Martin said he was able to afford “Rock-N-Roll” because of one thing: credit cards.
This year's festival runs through March 11. For more information and the schedule of films and events,go to www.dciff.org.