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VideoFest 2009: What's in an Intro?


by Stephen Becker 29 Oct 2009

Guest blogger Bart Weiss is director of the Video Association of Dallas and VideoFest, which runs Nov. 5-8. He sends this post along about the process of creating the intro that runs before each program: Like designing a poster (which I wrote about here), the video intro for the festival has always been important to […]

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Guest blogger Bart Weiss is director of the Video Association of Dallas and VideoFest, which runs Nov. 5-8. He sends this post along about the process of creating the intro that runs before each program:

Like designing a poster (which I wrote about here), the video intro for the festival has always been important to me. I can think of the video and audio of years past and the images of people and videos of that year flash through my head.

The first year of the festival (1987), I was having a really bad day, and I was ready to call the whole thing off. I had an offer to do some editing in L.A ., and filmmakers were being very difficult. Then Scooter Smith, who was an animator, came in and said, “Let me show you the intro I am working on.” It was magnificent. It started off with a cow that said “Video Ya’ll.” The energy and artistry got me so buzzed that we overcame all those little issues. So without that intro, there would be no festival.

At some festivals, the intro (or as some call it, “the trailer”) is mostly there for sponsor’s logos. For me, it sets the tone for the program you are about to see. It puts the fest in context. As I travel, seeing festivals around the world, I love to see what they do for their fests. Two years ago, we ran a program of intros from many of these fests. They are so great and ephemeral, but after the fest they only exist as a memory.

This year for the festival I tried something completely different. A few years ago I met with a young filmmaker named Ryan Kline and was very impressed. He had a great attitude and was very ambitious for a kid. (When I first met him he was too young to drive.) I then saw him at the workshops in Maine, where I teach teachers in the summer. He was taking an intensive film (as in not video) workshop. So I thought, why not have him do the intro? It was a bit of a risk, but I was really happy to try it. Ryan needed help, and we got lots of help. Bill Schwartz, one of Dallas’ best directors of photography, agreed to shoot it. And he did way more than shoot it – he arranged for so many people and so much equipment it was amazing. For those who this means something to, it was shot on the Red camera. As we moved along, Bill was impressed with Ryan’s talent and his ability to know what he wanted (something not all directors have).

Quickly this shoot got big, with a crew of about 20, a nice cast and way too much for Bill and Ryan to produce by themselves. So I called Amy Lou Abernathy at AMP Productions, who put Mariana Denke on it, who did a great job. Steve Franko did color correction, Post Asylum edited it and James Neel did the music.

So how did it turn out? Better than I expected, and I had high expectations.

You can watch it below (or better yet, come to the festival and see it on the big screen):

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  • Ciro Faienza

    I’m not sure I understand why the Video Fest is casting itself as a showcase for clichéd Hollywood-style adolescent male fantasies with this intro. It misrepresents, I think, the content of the festival, its participants, and its patrons.

  • Some Dude

    False. Ciro you dont know what the hell you’re talking about. If you had paid any attention to the movie itself you would understand exactly what it is trying to portray. maybe instead of ripping on other peoples videos you should spend your time making videos that you’re more interested in.

  • Jed Lackman

    Ciro, from its own website: VideoFest is both a first stop for artists who will go on to great things, and a last stop for many works, a chance to be shown before a public audience before slipping off into the vast online ocean of unwatched media. I strongly suspect that in the case of Mr. Kline, this short is a first stop, and it seems entirely worthy of selection as an into to Videofest. I have an equally strong suspicion that you might prefer something from a filmmaker more likely to contribute to the “vast online ocean of unwatched media.” Maybe next year.

  • Scooter Smith

    I made that first intro for the VideoFest, and the next four until I suggested to Bart that it would be a good idea to see what someone different each year could do for the Fest. What a good idea if I say so myself. My style was maybe too quirky, but probably apt for the wild early years. Since then the intros have reflected many ways of thinking about our art and this wonderful, amazing venue Bart Weiss created for us. Ryan Kline’s intro fits nicely into the pantheon by reminding us of that intense obsessive/emotional rush of finding and doing something you love.