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Tribeca: ‘High Maintenance’ Creators on Short Filmmaking Opportunities Online

Tribeca: 'High Maintenance' Creators on Short Filmmaking Opportunities Online

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HBO recently picked up “High Maintenance,” the acclaimed web series about a Brooklyn pot dealer, for six new episodes. During a Tribeca Talks Panel, the show’s creators, Ben Sinclair and his wife Katja Blichfeld, sat down to discuss how the internet has changed the world of short filmmaking. Moderated by Brian Koppelman, host of Slate’s podcast “The Moment,” the panel also featured documentary filmmaker Judd Erlich and Dan Silver of ESPN Films. 
There are more opportunities than ever before to create and distribute shorts.
It used to be that you could only see films in the theaters; now we can watch them anytime and anywhere. “All of a sudden I realized I was watching films on my iPhone in cabs,” said Sinclair. “Now content’s just content, and it’s really about how the story affects you.”

Sinclair acknowledged that “there is something beautiful about seeing a proper film on a proper screen with an audience,” but said that ultimately, “it’s about the story first.” He continued, “I think people are gravitating towards the means to tell the stories that they want to tell. And given the democratization of the internet and things like that, it’s very easy to tell your story that way. People are headed towards where they will be creatively fulfilled and right now the internet, which is 24 hours seven days a week, is the best place to do it.”

There are no rules when it comes to the internet.

Erlich said the internet has provided more opportunities in terms of content, as well as distribution. “You’re going to have people watch a 4-minute film on their phone whereas they wouldn’t sit down for a 90-minute doc,” he said. “It can just get out there in a different way and in my case, it’s a different way to tell aspects of the same story.”

When constructing “High Maintenance,” Sinclair and Blichfeld didn’t want to be confined by the formulaic rules of a network or cable television show with commercial interruptions. “That was super-limiting and only when faced with that did we realize ‘oh shit, we’re on the internet’ and there are no rules, really,” said Sinclair. “…No one has even come up with the formula for this yet. So time, genre, who you’re gonna put in your thing, what it can be about, that is all up for grabs. Technically, you could have a full-penetration sex scene on your show and call it ‘not porn’ and people would just have to choke that down.”

Don’t put things online just because you can.

Blichfeld said aspiring filmmakers should think twice before posting to the web. “A lot of things feel unfinished that are online,” she said. “The immediacy of putting things online causes people to, I think, prematurely put things out there that aren’t necessarily ready, and that handicaps you going forward.”

Listen to the entire panel discussion below, courtesy of WNYC.

 

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