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A Look Behind the Scenes at the Dallas Video Festival

by Bart Weiss 1 Oct 2008 11:12 AM

Guest blogger Bart Weiss is Director of the Dallas Video Festival and president of Video Association of Dallas. As October has arrived, I hope you have gotten some insight into how we work and think here at the fest. But like the fest, there is so much more. So forgive me if I rant a […]


Guest blogger Bart Weiss is Director of the Dallas Video Festival and president of Video Association of Dallas.

As October has arrived, I hope you have gotten some insight into how we work and think here at the fest. But like the fest, there is so much more. So forgive me if I rant a bit …

First, I want to talk about how we are are going to show the videos at the fest this year. We have always been eager to both show you new technologies and use them in the way we go about our bidness. I remember in year one (1987) there was this new thing called desktop publishing. We had no idea how do to it, but we created our first program book with it. We were one of the first festivals anywhere to have a Web site (I really wish I could find that first site ) and to have a database to automate the entry process.

So this year our new thing is iTunes (Yes, that player you are rocking to, probably as you are reading this, unless you are listening to Pandora). Aside from playing music, it can play videos in good resolution, better than playing in Quicktime. We used to dub everything to Betacam or some other tape format; now we will go digital but not DVD (they tend to skip, which is not nice).

So this should be easier to produce, look better, be cool, and, yes, put us on the bleeding edge, where sometime you get nicked, but in all or tests it worked fine. The upshot is you should not really notice any change. And now from reading this blog, you have some inside info, and when you are at the festival (did I mention that it is Nov. 6-9) you can tell the person next you you, “Hey did you know they are running that off of iTunes?”

Another cool thing we will do is talk about our videos on our site. For many years there has been a link on the site where you could just ask Bart what you should see (it is still there). But since pretty much AC and I are the only people who have seen everything, we thought we would share that with you. On the festival site, (www.videofest.org) by the schedule, we will soon have a video in which I will tell you what I like about this film and why I picked it. You sort of get a one-on-one with the director. How cool is that?

There are so many films to talk about, and I feel bad mentioning any because they are all great. Some things not to miss:
Opening night: Raiders (just take my word), The two locally made boxing films, German music videos, a mediation on copyright, and Science Gone Wild.

Friday: Robert Drew, who made those early cinema verite films Primary and Crisis, has re-cut them into a look a JFK … The Wrecking Crew, a film about those incredible session players in LA in the ’60s who played on all those hits of your youth … In the About Filmmaking compilation, the short “About Film Festivals” is a must, along with “Beginning Filmmaking”.

Saturday: We have two staples of the festival, the best computer graphics in the world in the SIGGRAPH show and best commercials in the world in the London International Advertising Awards … As we are concerned with the election, we have Bogeyman: The Lee Atwater Story, about the man who started this nastiness … Speaking of politics, to get a perspective on the past and present check out 1968 … Later we bring back our hero Al Maysles, who will show The Gates … Also, you can see and meet the creator of Mr. Bill (Walter Williams) and there is way more to this than you think. He did some pieces about the levees in New Orleans before Katrina

Sunday: The day starts off with an early 10:30 a.m. screening of The Perfect Cappuccino, about the quest for this drink and a story of the ultimate coffee shop that is in … Oklahoma? … Nailing it to the Church is about the only comedy religious magazine … Moral Kombat is an amazing film about the problems with video games … And I will wrap up with a quick tour of the fest with She Should Have Gone to the Moon, about Dallasite Jerri Truhill, who in 1961 trained to be an Astronaut with NASA.

Of course, now when I see filmmakers whose work is in the festival and were not mentioned in the last few graphs I will be in trouble (sorry, I really do love your film and the audience will too!).

For more information, head over to the Web site. While there, if you are inclined, there is a donation button on the page. But aside from cash, there is another way you can contribute (other than volunteering or just coming). Unlike our friends at AFI DAllas or USA Film Festival, we haven’t gotten any vouchers from American Airlines for years . The festival experience is much richer if we can bring more people here. So … If you have enough extra miles to bring an artist here, that would be what my people would call a Mitzvah. If interested, e-mail me ([email protected]). Or just e-mail if you have any questions.

By the way, we are really happy the Dallas Observer picked us a Best Reel to Real for the 24 Hour Video Race. And speaking of the video race, we have the film version (Guts and Glory) at the festival. Instead of video, you have 3 minutes of film to shoot in sequence and see for the first time live at the festival, where the makers can add any live sound to the film they have not seen yet. It is a truly unique experience, a very video fest type thang.

Also, note that the Observer picked AFI-Dallas as the Best Advertisement for The City of Dallas, and I believe they are up next on the festival blog schedule. I’m sure there will have some great things for them to say, so stay tuned.