NYC Indie Film/Video Groups Exploring New Initiative

by James Israel

Independent film and video groups gathered in New York recently to explore ways to work together to develop larger audiences for indie film screenings. Photo: James Israel.

Over 20 representatives from various New York City area film festivals, screening series, exhibition venues, and nonprofit filmmaker groups convened this Monday at Downtown Community Television's offices in Chinatown for the first Independent/Film Video Summit. Their goal: to form a collective that will help in getting "under the radar" independent work on more screens.

As noted in the discussion, it is a continuing challenge for independent filmmakers to get their work seen, as there are hundreds of films being made each year not destined for the major multiplex or local art house theater but still worthy enough to garner an audience and be screened. With the proliferation of weekly and monthly screening series (at least two dozen in NYC alone) come growing opportunities for filmmakers to get their work screened outside of the mainstream methods. With curators showing work anywhere they can set up a projector, whether it be on a rooftop, in a coffee shop, a rock club, or an off off Broadway theater, there is obviously an audience for alternative independent work. The summit was formed as a way for exhibitors to discuss ways that they can help each other to get work on more screens and develop larger audiences.

The Independent Film/Video Summit was organized by Shane Snipes of Indieville, which produces a comedic cable access television show that covers independent film, and Dan Bianchi, who runs VideoTheatre, an ongoing video screening series in the East Village. To start things off they offered initiatives for groups in attendance to better collaborate and assist each other in publicizing their screenings. Their plan is the creation of a website which will include a one stop shop for screenings and submission information for all of the various exhibitors. They also hope to produce a calendar, a shared mailing list, and with their combined resources, pursue future sponsorship and media opportunities. As Snipes noted, "people are amazed that so many screening series exist. I want people to go see independent film who normally don't go see it."

Snipes plans to use Indieville's resources as the first step in creating the website for the collective, whose name is tentatively titled "Indie Screens: The NYC Collective of Independent Film and Video Exhibitors." The group plans to hold future meetings where they can discuss other ideas about how to assist each other, including recommending films for each other's series, programming theme months, and other means of cross-promoting and marketing. Indie Screens plans to have a prototype of the website up by the end of December. A second summit meeting is being planned for the first week of January and other groups are being encouraged to join.

Participants in the Indie Summit included: AIVF, Asbury Short Film Festival, BAM, Brooklyn Underground Film Festival, Cinekink, Cinema Tropical, Cinewomen, Swiss Consulate General, DCTV,, Film & TV Monitor, FilmBUZZ, Gen Art, Hargrove Entertainment, IndieFilmPage, Indieville, Induloop, Muddycup, Rooftop Films, Shooting People, Stellar Networks, Two Boots / Pioneer, VideoTheatre, and Witness.