2009 AFI Dallas Film Festival: List of Panels and Seminars

AFI Target PoochAFI Dallas is around the corner. Literally. From NorthPark to Victory Park to Nasher Sculpture Center, beginning on March 26th through April 2nd AFI will premier films, host events, and feature free panels and lectures. Stay tuned to ILiD - I will be posting events/films as I see them.

One of the things I didn’t attend last year was the lecture series they offered to filmmakers and filmgoers, called Talk/Show. This year, I have listed the complete schedule and also plan to attend a couple. The panel discussions are free and open to the public.

By the way, if you're interested in volunteering, there is an orientation this Wednesday. Sign up soon in order to get involved during one the year's best events in Dallas. I volunteered last year - met some really cool people, learned a bit more about indie film, and received free AFI film passes. Definitely worth it if you have some time! To volunteer, visit AFI Dallas and fill out an online application.

Photo: AFI Dallas - Target Lounge Uploaded by Scisenik on 29 Jan 09, 1.31PM CDT.

Friday, March 27

Legal Issues for Independent Filmmakers and Production
3:30pm | Neiman Marcus NorthPark 3rd Floor

You're ready to shoot your first independent film.  You've got your ground-breaking script, your talented actors, and your tireless crew all lined up.  But before you start, make sure you understand the legal issues.  A panel of experienced entertainment layers will discuss the legal details and requirements of taking your brilliant script from inception, through production, and finally to distribution.  After all, how will anyone see your amazing film if it's tied up in litigation?

Promoting Your Movie: What Lessons Can Indie Filmmakers Learn From Indie Bands?
5:30pm | Victory Park Festival Lounge

How can indie filmmakers work the circuit of smaller fests the same way an indie band might work a tour? Can film festivals help filmmakers recoup some of their investment at fests, thereby motivating them to attend more fests with their films, etc. by creating avenues to sell their films and supporting merchandise at their screenings? Bands make back at least part of what they spend to produce and promote a CD during their tour or performances by selling CDs, t-shirts, posters, etc. at their shows. Why couldn't an indie filmmaker do the same? At the recent Oxford Film Festival in Mississippi, for instance, if the filmmakers of RATTLE BASKET had copies of their soundtrack available for sale there, they likely would have sold some and generated some income as there was a lot of buzz about the music for that film. However, what's the likelihood someone will hunt it up months down the road, versus striking while interest is hot?

Saturday, March 28th

Music in movies: Making your movie sing
11:00am | Nasher Sculpture Center

The use of, and utilization of music is often an integral part of a film. The perfect song or music can enhance, emphasize, serve as a counterpoint and sometimes inspire the emotion and thrill of what we are seeing on the screen. So where do you find that music? Do you work with a composer throughout the development process? Should the knowledge of what songs or the score you intend to use influence what is filmed? What do you do if you don’t have access to what was originally intended to back a scene or sequence? The acquisition of music and securing of rights has thwarted many a filmmaker and either held up the release of their masterwork or forced last minute compromises and substitutes to their original vision. So, where do you go to get the rights? Do you knock on the composer or band’s front door? Why must it be so hard or costly to convince someone to let you use his or her song? Or is it?

Filmmaking 101
Noon | Victory Park Festival Lounge

Everything you always wanted to know about Filmmaking... Abridged! Join Tom Copeland, Chris Caddel, and surprise special guests as they promote their popular workshop and attempt to fit over 100 years of production knowledge into 60 minutes.  Bring a pen!  Tom is the former director of the Texas Film Commission and now teaches film at Texas State University in San Marcos and Chris is the program director of the Flatland Film Festival and technical director of the Louise Hopkins Underwood Center for the Arts in Lubbock.

Documentary or VLOG, What's A Documentary Really?
1:00pm | Nasher Sculpture Center

Now that anyone can record anything easily, cheaply and at high-resolution, is there more to making a documentary than just hitting the record button? In the 24/7/5000-channel universe, where everything seems to wind up on TV and then your laptop, is something increasingly being left behind? Specifically, does it take more than video editing software to shape and tell a story? And with more and more of life being captured in home movies, surveillance video and webcams, does it take more than just found footage to find a story? What’s more, is there anybody left who isn’t camera savvy? Can you document anybody who isn’t ready to “perform” for the camera and therefore give you an unnatural “reality”? Will films like WE LIVE IN PUBLIC, TV JUNKIE and TARNATION be looked upon in the future as the first in a separate documentary “genre” onto itself? And looking beyond, will this necessitate the changing of definitions in the film industry overall – documentary filmmaker, shorts filmmaker, critic, etc?

Scary Symbols: How do horror films show us what is really scaring us?
3:00pm | Nasher Sculpture Center

From films like THEM reflecting our fears of the risks of living in the atomic or nuclear age to INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS being more about blacklisting than actual pod people, horror or genre films have long served as film going therapy for us all. So what can we learn about what really scares us from today’s films? Was CLOVERFIELD’s monster a manifestation of the unknown threat that terrorism presents us today? Do films like FUNNY GAMES and THE STRANGERS originate from the now all-too-common news reports of violent crimes originating from seemingly mundane and harmless sources like kids in school shootings

Sunday, March 29th

Who Drives the Future of Animation - Kids or Amateurs
11:00am | Nasher Sculpture Center

A spirited discourse took place at the LA Film Critics this year over which was the better film - WALL-E or WALTZ WITH BASHIR. The result was an arguable and in some ways, incoherent split: WALTZ WITH BASHIR won Best Animated Film (thereby beating out WALL-E), but WALL-E won Best Picture. Recently, the Academy Awards animation clip package was heavy on clips from kid friendly fare like KUNG FU PANDA and STAR WARS: THE CLONE WARS, but not on the more adult themed films like WALTZ WITH BASHIR and $9.99, neither of which received a subsequent animation nomination. How has the adult following for shows like SPONGEBOB SQUARE PANTS and POWERPUFF GIRLS further blurring the lines that have traditionally divided what’s for grown-ups and what’s for kids? Are we on the cusp of a vast sea of animated homemade product from artists that will choose to tell their stories through animation? And if so – do we need to redefine our expectations for that approach to filmmaking as well as our willingness to judge it artistically side-by-side with live-action films?

The Short Film Dividing Line: Film VS. You Tube?
1:00pm | Nasher Sculpture Center

Just as technology both with cameras and editing software has opened up the potential for many to make their own films with very limited budgets, those same people with a free weekend can make their own short films. But what makes a “film” versus a funny or silly video or an exercise in navel gazing? How do we draw the line between what is art and what is, at best, a curiosity? Furthermore, from the filmmaker’s perspective, what are the benefits and drawbacks of festival play versus simply uploading their mini-epic to You Tube and the like?

Who's Winning the Copyright Copy-Fight?
3:00pm | Nasher Sculpture Center

With media, movies, and music so prevalent and technology giving everyone the ability to manipulate all of it to serve their artistic whims, what are the best ways to protect your copyrighted material? Indie filmmakers want to exploit other people’s material, yet they also want to be paid for what they create. In RIP A REMIX MANIFESTO, a DJ named Girl Talk is featured, that creates music by sampling hundreds of songs. What are the ramifications for the people who created the copyrighted material? Just recently, artist Shepard Fairey sued the Associated Press over a dispute regarding his use of a photo to create the Warhol-esque Obama “Image of Hope”. You Tube and other online sites have also brought up the issue of copyright and how today’s filmmakers go about using and protecting their material. Can we reach a middle ground in regards to “fair use”? And what concessions will it take for each side of the pro-copyright protection side versus the pro-open and free content side of the argument?

Monday, March 30

Texas Filmmakers' Production Fund Workshop
2pm | NorthPark Filmmaker Lounge

Since 1996, the Austin Film Society's Texas Filmmakers' Production Fund has supported Texas filmmakers by giving out $930,000 in cash, goods and services to 265 film and video projects. The deadline for the 2009 cycle is June 1st and if you are a filmmaker who has resided in Texas for at least one year, you are eligible to apply for up to $25,000 in funding for your project. At this workshop, the Austin Film Society's Director of Artist Services Bryan Poyser will take you through the application process step-by-step.

From Backyard to Academy Award: What does Slumdog Millionaire's success mean for indie filmmakers?
5:30pm | Victory Park Festival Lounge

SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE was, by many accounts, headed for the “straight to DVD” shelves until Fox Searchlight took it off the hands of Warner Bros. Now history will simply refer to it as the Best Film of the Year. Going forward, how should this weigh on the decisions filmmakers make as they decide the future of their films following a “locked” picture? Is a theatrical distribution still the be-all, end-all goal for a director or producer? Can larger audiences possibly be gained via the internet, straight-to-DVD releases and VOD? Can a “film festival tour” satisfy the desire to have the film shown on the big screen? If the object is simply to have as many people see your film as possible, then what is the real difference?

Tuesday, March 30th

Do we need to protect real life from filmmakers?
5:30pm | Victory Park Festival Lounge

In SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE, a fictional charity has a similar name to a real life India-based organization and brought a negative light to an actual charity. In addition, the film used children from Mumbai to play roles, yet were arguably neglected afterwards by the film’s producers until a public outcry inspired them to make an effort to help better the kids’ lives. Also last year, the teaser marketing for the comedy, FORGETTING SARAH MARSHALL featured various advertisements that referenced the name ‘Sarah Marshall’ but not the movie, so reports followed of people with that name receiving concerned calls from friends and family. What role does a filmmaker have in not negatively portraying real life people or areas that their films take place? And what sort of precautions need to be taken to make sure the general public does not become collateral damage in the pursuit of art or a joke?

Texas Avery Award Presentation
7pm | Nasher Sculpture Center

Henry Selick is the director, production designer and screenplay adapter for Coraline, the first stop-motion animated feature film ever produced in stereoscopic 3-D.  His feature film directorial projects, including the iconic Nightmare Before Christmas and James and the Giant Peach, have won numerous awards and established his reputation as one of the leading directors working in animation today.

Wednesday, April 1

Men and Women Onscreen: Are the movies scared of sex?
5:30pm | Victory Park Festival Lounge

Last year saw a blockbuster smash in TWILIGHT that featured a romance between a teenage girl and a young male vampire that was a chastity parable by a practicing Mormon. THE READER featured an affair that traumatizes one of the characters for years to come.  Meanwhile, THE READER and TOWELHEAD held May/December romances as story lynchpins with typical negative reaction to the appropriateness of the older male/younger female version (TOWELHEAD), as opposed to the relative acceptance of the older female/younger male version (THE READER). So, have we progressed at all in the way we view these relationships? Traditionally, older man/younger girl = creepy and against the law, while older woman/younger guy = lucky young guy. Have things changed at all with how we view the boundaries of portraying romance and relationships on screen or are we dealing with age-old preconceptions and prejudices? And bottom line: Why are the movies so afraid of sex in the first place?

Thursday, April 2

Screenwriting for the Gaming Industry
5:30pm | Victory Park Festival Lounge

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