Film Festival? Here Are 3 Reasons You Should Go Local

Sundance, Tribeca, Toronto, Venice—even the world’s most glamorous film festivals got nothin’ on the local.

Recently, I attended the Three Rivers Film Festival in Pittsburgh, PA. 3RFF is a small scale film fest comprised of a collection of independent films. I saw prize-holders from Toronto as well as Pittsburgh produced shorts. My first night there I walked into a crowded little lobby on the second floor of a film school. A young man shouted over the heads in front of him to greet a fellow film student. Two white-haired women talked excitedly to each other as they scurried toward the will call table. Little did I know, I’d being seeing these faces a lot more. In fact, I would see them in the lobby of every theater I visited. It’s just the nature of small-scale.

‘Trespass Against Us’ screened at Three Rivers Film Festival 2016

If you are an aspiring filmmaker or even just a good ol’ film enthusiast like myself, local film festivals are a great idea. Here’s three nuggets to consider the next time your city’s festival pops-up.

1. Learn about film companies and supporting organizations in your region

Are you new to the city? Are you new to filmmaking? Supporting companies and organizations exist in nearly all major cities. Representatives may show up at panel discussions or lobby booths to promote their companies. Getting connected with these can help you with your career. Whether you are an actor, screenwriter or director you can find an organization that can serve you and you can find ones that you can serve. Organizations like Steeltown Entertainment Project (of Pittsburgh) programs tours and seminars. They even pioneer new film and TV ventures. Projects like this offer educational opportunities for multiple age groups. Perhaps, they may be able to get your current film-dream off the ground.

2. Meet people you can collaborate with

It takes a village to raise a… film. These smaller festivals magnetize indie filmmakers. You might meet aspiring directors and writers at Sundance, but going local means you can connect with people—ones with whom you can easily collaborate. At the 3RFF I learned about a ‘crew connect.’ At these events you can meet camera operators, lighting technicians, set designers, etc. that live and work in your region.

The Pittsburgh Entertainment Summit 03
The Pittsburgh Entertainment Summit 03

3. Attend forums that discuss filmmaking in your city

At 3RFF I attended a forum on filmmaking in the Pittsburgh area. The panel comprised of four directors (Mike Gasaway, Christ Preska, Charlotte Glynn and Melissa Martin) took questions from the eager audience members. Might I add—at smaller festivals you are more likely to get your questions answered just do to the sheer number of attendees. Anyways, Glynn talked about how she derives stories from the inspiration of specific Pittsburgh locations. Gasaway and Preska suggested the audience to find cheap/free sites where they can film. They shared some of the sites they had found in the area. Martin helped the audience think about funding. She recommended historical and activist organizations that might be eager to fund certain types of films. Each city has its own problems and perks.You can discover helpful insights at forums. Experienced filmmakers are face-to-face present at local fests.

We all know that film festivals are fun, whether you are a filmmaker or not. There is nothing like laughing and crying and cheering and booing with an audience full of film lovers. Yet, these local fests can also be informative. Look for opportunities to get involved with agencies, organization and crews in your area. And by all means…have a blast!

– Kylee

Dr. Strange: Scripting Comedy

Dr. Strange

Humor as the human dimension—an old dog doing new tricks

I know what you are thinking, “Comedy really? I mean this is the Cumberbatch-gone-gangbuster Dr. Strange right?” Yes, indeed, you are correct. What I mean to say is, this is a popular-level film that is doing comedy in a unique way.

Its no surprise that a film written/directed by Scott Derrickson explores the depths of the human experience. It is a surprise that such dramatic sequences occur in a fantastically CGed superhero film. Benedict Cumberbatch (Dr. Stephen Strange) remarked, “The feeling of watching it is sort of synesthetic. We’re trying to do something in a visual language that Shakespeare, say, did with words—to unlock parts of the human condition…understanding the limits of the human condition.”

Mads Mikkelsen on the set of 'Doctor Strange' filming on location in New York City.
Mads Mikkelsen on the set of ‘Doctor Strange’ filming on location in New York City.

A Scene Well-Put

Humor thoughtfully weaves through intense combat to dialogue sequences. The thing is Dr. Strange isn’t just replicating the traditional use of comic relief. The kinds of comedy vary. A toppling broom in a quiet room freaks out Christine (Rachel McAdams). Dr. Stephen Strange’s awkwardly excessive UK-dryness transforms the audience into pipe organ of guffaws. There is nothing like laughing with crowd of strangers. Meanwhile, Strange’s cape, a perfect match for his arrogance, acts like a kind of Peter Pan’s shadow. Even Kaecillius (Mads Mikkelsen), the villain, gets a punch. Its clear that Dr. Strange’s humor is not just ‘doing what you are supposed to do.’ The humor spans a range of comedic styles and lands at appropriate times.

The Super genre is new territory for me. I’m not used to imagining stories of a fantastical type. Therefore, at points I was tempted to fall out of the suspension of disbelief. I couldn’t relate. I kid you not, every time that temptation came Derrickson served up a slice of the comedic pie.

Benedict Cumberbatch and Scott Derrickson
Benedict Cumberbatch and Scott Derrickson

Laughter is relatable.

When done well, it can bring a distant audience into even the most outlandish experiences.Comedy glued together this magical and philosophical film. It catered humor to all viewer preferences kicking up a communal experience only a theater can conjure. And, it guided the audience into Dr. Strange’s most esoteric and contemplative explorations.


– Kylee


*Speaking of humor in film, looking forward to the Kiwi-humorist, Taika Waititi’s upcoming Thor—due for wide release November 3, 2017