Directors are auteurs, in charge of hundreds of people and with millions of dollars at their disposal, right? Think again. Easy-t0-use cameras and Internet technology allow anyone with a story to tell to make a movie. This was highlighted by the recent talk by four Washington-area filmmakers at the Apple Store in Georgetown. They’re all alumni of DC Shorts, with films or scripts that appeared in this local festival.
Arlin Godwin wanted to make a short film but didn’t want to deal with actors. Over a couple of weekends, in his own apartment, he made the delightfully creepy Man in 813. It won Outstanding Local Film at DC Shorts. Fascinating to me was the fact that he shot it with a Canon T2i (a digital still camera) and primarily used the “nifty fifty” lens, a $100 prime lens beloved by photographers. Continue reading “DC Shorts Filmmakers Share Tricks of the Trade”
For anyone who lives in the sprawling metropolis of Washington, Corner Plot is a fascinating documentary. Would you believe that someone owns a one-acre farm in the middle of Silver Spring? Charlie Koiner does. He’s 89-years-old and produces a cornucopia of produce from his tiny plot of land, just blocks from the Metro.
Corner Plot is a really effective short work because the filmmakers paid attention to the story of Koiner, showing how farming has kept him young and engaged with the community. More strident documentarians would’ve taken the occasion to lecture the audience on environmental themes but Ian Cook and Andrew Dahlman are smart enough to let their subject do most of the talking. They allow they audience to come to the conclusion that local farms are critical to community life, vital to people like Koiner and the people of Silver Spring.
By no means did I see all 97 films at the DC Shorts Film Festival. But I saw a lot and got to meet to some of the filmmakers as well.
I’ll be posting “mini-reviews” of what I liked, from what I saw.
One of my favorite films was Enter the Beard. Audiences enjoyed it too – this documentary won Filmmaker’s Favorite and Audience Choice awards.
Enter the Beard is a very funny look at an odd American subculture – men who grow elaborate and enormous beards and then compete against other men in the World Beard and Mustache Championships. (One of the few women in the film pointed out how odd it was that men would groom themselves and then walk down catwalks, like hirsute supermodels.)
It would be easy to just present these men and their oversized facial hair as freaks yet the documentary is empathetic and amusing. Much of this humor comes from Charles Parker Newton, our guide to this world of beards and mustaches. He’s engaging and funny, with the charisma of a cult leader.
I talked to him for a bit at DC Shorts, outlining my inability to grow the Grizzly Adams beard of my dreams. He faulted my lack of commitment and, with a roaring speech, convinced me that I should spend the next six months growing a kickass beard. It made sense at the time.
After all, what’s more American than following your dream? Even if your dream involves doing nothing, of just deciding not to shave anymore.