Tuesday, May 4, 2010

iPadding from Doculand - IFP Member Carolyn McCulley's HotDocs Whirlwind

My first day at Hot Docs was a whirlwind of pitch meetings, presentations, and desperate hunts for caffeine. I had anticipated all of those. What I hadn't anticipated was the effect of my iPad. Whipping that out was better than having a cute dog for making new friends. Which was very helpful as I knew hardly anyone when I came. I gather it was also a relief to people used to being pitched all day to have something else to talk about.

Speaking of pitches, I started my day at the Rendezvous pitch session. It was impressively run by volunteers who kept us all on time. I followed that with a number of co-production panels and micro-meetings. One of the most noteworthy items of the day came from the staff of Canada's TVO public broadcaster: It is no longer sufficient to think through your film's development and concurrent marketing. Facebook pages and websites are expected. They are the norm and bare minimum. Rich media, or interactive media, is now expected. And filmmakers should hire for that role early on. In fact, rich media should have a shelf life of two to six years with evergreen content. An example of this would be the geo-tagged photos and other interactive media on the site of InsideDisaster.com. Budgets for these kinds of projects were mentioned in the $150K to $400K range.

Another steep learning curve looms!

At the end of the day, happy hour in the Burwash Hall was a steamy event. Not due to anything inappropriate, but simply due to the warm temperatures and the closed windows. But the crowd didn't budge. While I demo'd my iPad to new acquaintances, Documentary Channel CEO James Ackerman showed a few of us the pictures of his flooded Nashville home and neighborhood. Fortunately, the flood remediation is already underway, because those were some sobering pictures.

Despite my weariness, I made it to the Cumberland cinema to see the 9:30 showing of "My Perestroika." It was a packed house and the director, Robin Hessman, was on hand. She began this film five years ago, but the idea of profiling the generation who came of age during perestroika developed when she was in film school in Russia during the '90s. It had a compelling open--I was immediately engaged. However, the long day and the happy hour took their toll on a subtitled movie. I look forward to the film's PBS broadcast this fall to see the conclusion.

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