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When the Vimeo Festival Knocks, Does Hollywood Answer?

When the Vimeo Festival Knocks, Does Hollywood Answer?

“A few weeks ago, a young filmmaker named James Curran from the UK posted his own version of the “Tintin” title sequence,” said Vimeo creative director Jeremy Boxer. “Spielberg spotted it, then called him up and hired him.“

Steven Spielberg hires off of a Vimeo clip; could it happen to you? That’s the theory and it’s one that Boxer cites as the most recent example of a filmmaker using popular video sharing community Vimeo as platform as a professional launching pad. And he expects to see more of the same with the second annual Vimeo Festival + Awards.

Submissions opened today; the inaugural festival attracted over 6,500 entrants and, according to Boxer, winners in multiple categories went on to land jobs with their work.

Boxer, who also founded the Vimeo festival, spoke to Indiewire about how he created it to counter those festivals that reject short films that have been online and how expects this event to create a “new gold standard for the best quality creative work.”  

What sparked the idea of Vimeo starting a festival?

When we looked around at festivals, we noticed that there were a lot of festivals out there that were not accepting films that had premiered online.  

Because of that, we wanted to do something to celebrate those films that premiered online. So our rules state that you can only submit your film if you’ve premiered online. If you’ve premiered at a film festival beforehand, your work will not be eligible.  

We’ve tried to lead by example, to show how work being celebrated online should have its own awards and a festival of its own.  And we thought we were the perfect host for that.  

How has the Vimeo Festival + Awards functioned as a launch pad?

Because of our reach as a website, we can extend the winners’ potential audience into the millions.  It really has a massive impact on their careers moving forward.  

One of the clearest examples is Onur Senturk.  He had just graduated from university when he submitted his film to us. Off the back of his win in the motion graphics category, he was hired to do the title sequences for the new “Transformers” movie.

Our grand prize winner last year was a documentarian called Eliot Rausch.  He made a six-minute film called “Last Minutes with ODEN.” It’s probably one of the most emotional films that I saw, and I think it proves the validity of short filmmaking.

Eliot’s film was seen by hundreds of thousands of people after he won. The industry reached out to him, and he has more work now than he knows what to do with. Carson Daly had Eliot on his show because he saw that film, and Daly quoted the Vimeo festival as the reason he saw it.  

Last Minutes with ODEN from phos pictures on Vimeo.

What’s Vimeo’s ultimate goal with this festival?

Our methodology with the festival has always been to look at what’s relevant, look at what needs to be discussed now and celebrate that.  

That’s why we added new categories this year: advertising, fashion, action/sports and a new category called lyrical. Lyrical are the personal, poetic stories of everyday life, which you only see online and which have exploded on Vimeo itself. We want to celebrate those because they don’t really fall into the documentary category and they don’t fit into experimental, and we wanted to give them their own space.

Also, we’re not just celebrating what’s on Vimeo. We’re celebrating everything across the net. As long as your work premiered anywhere online, on any platform, we will accept it. What we’re trying to do with the festival is create a new gold standard for the best quality creative work done on video online.  

And we’re trying to celebrate and give filmmakers opportunities they didn’t have before by awarding grants. We’re giving grants to all the category winners this year instead of just the grand prize. Every single category has a five thousand dollar grant to make a new film. And the grand prizewinner selected from the winners will get an additional twenty grand to make their next piece. We want to give back in a way that is proactive for the community.

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