Rhode Island Collaboration
Written by Elizabeth Engel | Posted by: Anonymous
What happens when an organized group of enthusiastic New Englander’s pool their resources, talent, and time? The answer is: they win an award for local filmmakers at the Rhode Island International Film Festival. This August 2006, the Rhode Island Film Collaborative (RIFC) won the Providence Film Festival for local filmmakers of Rhode Island grand prize for their short film, "The Daydream." The RIFC is a fast growing network of filmmakers proving that artists can produce good films on a small to zero budget and gain local and national attention.
The Daydream is a 20-minute short film written and directed by Kal AlMkhlaafy. It is a "dry satire of American working culture," says Mike Ryan of the RIFC. The film is about "one person that doesn’t fit in in an office where everyone is ridiculously happy to be at work," says Ryan. Kal AlMkhlaafy is from London and got the idea for the film when he came to the United States and observed the working culture of Americans. He wrote the script based on the feedback he got from members of the RIFC. Working with the RIFC, AlMkhlaafy found a crew and cast the project.
Winning the award for local filmmakers at the Rhode Island International Film Festival (RIIFF) is a great accomplishment for any filmmaker or group of filmmakers. RIFF features hundreds of films from across the United States and represents over 40 countries. The festival is in its 10th year and receives approximately 2,000 entries. It accepts all types of films in any genre, including shorts, features, and documentaries. Three different judges who use 10 categories for assessment judge the entered films.
"We do not have separate standards for locally made films; we only have a different category for work that is produced locally," says George T. Marshall, the Executive Director/CEO of the RIIFF.
The RIFC was formed about less than a year ago from its predecessor, the Providence Film Coalition, which existed for about two years. The idea was to create a resource to "help local independent filmmakers make their films," says Mike Ryan. After answering an ad on Craigslist, Ryan and others got together to talk about film and to actually make a product. They wanted a way to "share equipment and talent," says Ryan. Since there were many independent filmmakers in Rhode Island, it made sense to develop a way for them to cooperate. So, they created the RIFC whose mission was to serve as a "filmmakers cliché that pools talent and resources for short film, and creates a networking base for filmmakers around the New England area," as stated on its website.
The Collaborative functions by dividing contributing filmmakers into three teams: the Core team, the Helper team, and the Satellite team. The Core consists of the writers and directors with one leader. It is the smallest team but usually carriers the most responsibility. This team is in charge of the creative vision of the project and really drives it to completion. The Helper team is the crew that will be present at every shoot, donating their time and skills. The Helper team includes grips, DPs, and members involved in marketing. The Satellite group consists of members who may not be able to make a significant commitment but want to be involved in the project by sharing their resources. Sometimes this will include people looking for future script writing partners.
The groups allow people to commit to projects when they are available and to remain an active member when they do not have the time to fully commit to a project. Additionally, the groups enable members to have very different functions based on their own personal talents. "There is one guy in the group who teaches people how to cater independent film screenings," says Ryan. This man teaches other members how to buy food in bulk, what items to buy weeks in advance, and how to keep costs down. The catering aspect of the screenings was something that other members hadn’t considered and weren’t experienced with.
The RIFC holds its networking meetings on the second Tuesday of every month at the Wild Colonial at 250 Water Street in Providence. This is a good first meeting for people interested in joining the RIFC. A prospective member can introduce himself/herself at the meeting and make contacts with other members. Last year the RIFC had 50 members. This year membership escalated to 500 members. Members range from experienced filmmakers with several films on their resumes to novices eager to learn filmmaking practices.
During the month, other groups meet to discuss different aspects of filmmaking. The writing group meets every 2nd Wednesday of the month to discuss a script they have read in advance. There is also a public relations group and a 48-Hour film festival group. As the RIFC grows, more specialized groups will most likely form.
The RIFC hosted the 48-hour Film Project’s inaugural year in Providence and many of its members lead teams and made films. The idea of a 48-hour film festival is for each team of filmmakers to write, shoot, and edit a short film from beginning to end in 48 hours.
"We will most likely host an event of our own creation similar in spirit to the 48-Hour Film Project, but with an original concept," says Mark Fogarty, the RIFC president elect. Fogarty says that the RIFC hopes to hold three events a year that result in a contest and a DVD screening. In the past, Fogarty participated in the 48-Hour Film Project in Boston, but he did not get the sense of community he felt at the festival in Providence. Fogarty liked how "everyone was rooting for each other" in Providence and how "it was not so much of a contest" but more of a great community builder. "In Providence, every comedy received roars of laughter, and every movie got oceans of applause. It added volumes to the experience, and it was an amazing display of what kind of community we are creating," says Fogarty. Fogarty hopes to bring that kind of energy to the upcoming RIFC’s events.
The RIFC is only in its beginnings and the future will bring many great changes. The RIFC hopes to gain non-profit status, increase the number events it hosts, and gain attention in local press. Core members are working to post their films and trailers on the RIFC website and some members have videos on YouTube and Myspace. Since filmmaking went digital, shooting, editing footage, and distribution became much more accessible. Digital film making is one of the main reasons why a group like the RIFC can exist and produce low-budget independent short films.
Winning the award for best local short at the Providence Independent Film Festival is sure to be the first of many awards for the RIFC. The RIFC is active in their mission to "foster a community of independent filmmaking," says Ryan.
More information on the RIFC and membership can be found on its website at www.pfcfilms.com.