by Mark Rabinowitz
Kyle Newman, a 21-year-old senior at New York University's
Tisch School of the Arts is the recipient of the first "Coca-Cola Refreshing
Filmmaker's Award" which includes $10,000. In addition, his winning
60-second film will be screened before features at approximately 10,000
theater across the country, beginning April 24th. indieWIRE spoke with
Newman on Friday, and he told us how he came to the project, and some of
the hurdles he needed to overcome to complete the film on deadline.
Last fall, Coca-Cola announced the contest at five of the "leading film
schools in the country," New York University (NYU); University of
Southern California; University of California, Los Angeles, North
Carolina School of the Arts, and Columbia University. Newman, for his
part says he "stumbled upon it." He was on his way to class when he
heard that someone was going to speak about the contest ,"So I kind of
skipped out of going to class and went to listen....It looked like a
very good opportunity (but) I didn't realize how large of an opportunity
it actually would be."
At the meeting he learned that the first round of the contest required
original scripts and storyboards for a 60-second-long film about the
movies or the movie going experience. In December the original 150 or so
entries were whittled down to ten finalists who were given $5,000 and a
choice: Use the $5,000 to complete the film in approximately six weeks,
thereby taking a shot at winning the grand prize, or take the money and
run, so's to speak. Not surprisingly, Kyle, as well as the other nine
finalists decided to make their film.
"Bitten By Love," the minute-long film Newman finished is a tale of a
man and his dog who both find love at the movies, and once he was named
a finalist he was off and running to finish the project in the time
allotted. Newman had to "shoot it, edit it, score it, sound design
it...final everything" in just under six weeks over Christmas break and
New Year's. "Everyone was on break that month," Newman remarked, adding
"they also assigned it right during finals, so the availability of human
resources was very minimal." The director, however, took that as a
challenge, "I think that actually works to your advantage. The bigger
the obstacle that you have to conquer, the bigger success you can have
if you pull it off." The contests rules were rigid, with the length of
the piece to be 60 seconds, not one second more or less. "I was trimming
frames up until the last day, making it right."
Forcing filmmakers to tell a complete story in such a short period of
time may seem a bit cruel, but often not to the filmmakers themselves.
Newman relished the limitations placed on him, saying "I think it's a
phenomenal way to learn. (It's) a great way to refine your skills,"
adding, "It gives you a little better understanding when you're doing a
feature to know when things can breath and also gives you great skill at
keeping things moving when they have to move."
The trip to ShoWest recently to accept the prize was a gas, to say the
least for the young filmmaker. In addition to awards given to Matt Damon,
Minnie Driver and several other industry notables, the closing night's award
ceremony included Newman getting an award for his short and a screening
of the film in front of 3,500 people. Suitably impressed with the well
wishers (Barry Levinson and Matt Damon, among others), Newman intends
on keeping a level head, saying, "A lot of big names came up to me afterward
and congratulated me, and they really liked it," adding, "That was there,
that day and I'm obviously not go be with all of these people next week,
so I've got to look at building towards my career and not getting lost
in the b.s. of it all."
RELATED ARTICLES @ indieWIRE.com:
(December 8, 1998) Coke Corrects Filmmaking Finalists
(December 5, 1998) Coke Is It for Ten Filmmaking Finalists