By Eric Kohn | Eric Kohn April 12, 2010 at 2:24AM
Having spent the last few days dividing my time between the Orphan Film Symposium and the Gen Art Film Festival, the diverse enterprise of DIY has been on my mind quite a bit. I'm not alone, however, as you can see from this meandering documentation of a brief Twitter feud that flared up over the weekend (I played a hesitant and, fortunately, rather brief role in messy back-and-forth). Follow the link if you so please.
For now, let me keep this brief: I think events like DIY Days and The Conversation do little harm and a whole lot of good for filmmakers looking to experiment creatively with stretching their stories across multiple platforms and using innovative marketing techniques. The people responsible for them have good ideas: Lance Weiler, whose DIY Days is an outgrowth of his own successes with transmedia storytelling, makes perceptive genre movies and knows more than anyone else how to make a story accessible in various media at once. His latest project, a virus infection drama called "HiM," recently became the first transmedia project invited to the Sundance Screenwriters Lab. Scott Kirsner, meanwhile, initiated The Conversation to reflect a burgeoning approach to DIY experimentation that he has thoroughly documented in his book of interviews, "Fans, Friends and Followers." The structured daylong conference is empirically justified.
Of course, the actual events are very far from flawless, but a bad panel rarely gets a free pass. At DIY Days in New York two weeks ago, a misinformed presentation about using Twitter for promotional purposes led to a full-on audience revolt. (I found the ire in the room a little depressing but not devoid of entertainment value -- watching the speaker squirm was more hilariously discomfiting than an episode of "Curb Your Enthusiasm.")
Other DIY Days presentations went a whole lot better. I enjoyed Chuck Wendig's intelligent shtick about building narrative in videogames and Noah Harlan's comprehensive rundown of smart phone apps, which emphasized their creative potential. In short, experimentation is what these events do best and what they do worst. Better to parse it carefully than issue an outright dismissal and throw the indie baby out with the indie bathwater, I say.
Here's a recent piece I wrote about transmedia after attending the recent DIY Days event in New York.
Brian Geldin, aka The Film Panel Notetaker, has put together a nice record of the event as well.
Incidentally, Geldin also works as a freelance publicist and recently wrote me about a new website for filmmakers he's working on called Big Vision Empty Wallet, a local how-to guide for filmmakers that sounds promising: "It is our goal to encourage people to make films in New York City and to offer news and resources that will guide filmmakers in this competitive industry and our current economy," Geldin says. As long as the tax incentive sticks around in these parts, that sounds like a pretty good deal. Someone wanna host a panel on it?