- Friday, May. 27, 2016
- NEW YORK
SHOOT premiered its 14th Annual New Directors Showcase reel at the DGA Theatre in New York City on Thursday night (5/26), followed by a panel discussion moderated by SHOOT publisher and editorial director Roberta Griefer featuring several of the up-and-coming filmmakers as well as feedback and advice from Amy Wertheimer, SVP, group executive producer, BBDO New York, and Sam Penfield, executive producer/partner at 1stAveMachine.
The 2016 Showcase consisted of 36 directors--30 individual helmers and three directorial duos. Kicking off the proceedings was Vince Misiano, national VP of the DGA, who told the Showcase class of 2016 that they "are not out there alone" in that the Guild is there "to help support and protect" directors' creative and economic rights. He described the Showcase directors as "the future of the industry" and noted that the DGA negotiated a commercials contract which includes a diversity initiative slated to get underway later this year to create more opportunities for women and ethnic minority filmmakers.
Misiano then introduced Griefer to the capacity DGA Theatre audience. She in turn introed the debut screening of the 2016 SHOOT New Directors Showcase reel, which contained a sampling of work from each selected filmmaker. After the reel presentation, SHOOT held a panel discussion featuring four of the directors: Jacqueline Dow, Patrick Finnegan, Michael Fiore and Elle Ginter. All are not yet affiliated with a production company.
Fiore is one-half of a duo as he and Erik Sharkey teamed on the documentary Floyd Norman: An Animated Life which gained them inclusion into the Showcase. Dow was selected on the strength of her spec spot "Music Everywhere" for Spotify. Finnegan earned Showcase distinction for "Freedom," a moving piece of branded content for the U.S. Naval Academy. And Ginter made the Showcase cut on the basis of her docu short Sugar Plum.
Ginter's short profiles professional ballerina Lindsey Croop who reflects back to her childhood as she prepares to fulfill her dream of dancing the role of the Sugar Plum Fairy. Ginter created the piece with a minimal crew--herself, a DP and assistant cameraperson. Ginter said that she is taking the time to methodically build her reel, guided by quality over quantity. She recently released another short, Why We Wake, which focuses on a young man battling chronic depression.
Dow meanwhile is in her thesis year at the NYU Graduate Film School program. Her humorous "Music Everywhere" was a school project. For her thesis she is working on a pilot she wrote and will direct. Dow additionally is in the midst of turning out three more quirky comedy people spec spots, noting that she is interested in breaking into the commercialmaking market.
Fiore and Sharkey's Floyd Norman: An Animated Life introduces us to the first African-American animator at Disney. Now 80, Norman has enjoyed a storied career that would have been cut short by the studio's mandatory retirement policy at the age of 65. However, Norman just kept coming to work, continuing as a positive contributor to Disney and his animation department compatriots. Floyd Norman: An Animated Life made it world premiere at the Santa Barbara Film Festival, an apropos venue in that Norman was born in Santa Barbara. And recently the feature documentary won the Audience Award at the Bentonville Film Festival, the fest co-founded by actress Geena Davis to promote women and diverse voices in media.
Fiore related that he and Sharkey first envisioned the feature documentary as a tribute to "the Forrest Gump of animation" but soon found that Norman's story was one about ageism. Fiore noted that while Norman dealt with some racism, it was ageism that made the bigger potentially negative impact on his life. Norman's perseverance and determination that he was not leaving despite a forced retirement is a lesson for us all, said Fiore who noted that Norman is still "in a cubicle there" at the Disney studio doing what he loves.
While Norman didn't succumb to ageism, Showcase director Finnegan has proven that you can begin a new career chapter later in life. An industry veteran, Finnegan acted in commercials--smiling that his most notable role might have been as a guy throwing a football around in an erectile dysfunction commercial--and served in such capacities over the years as a construction coordinator, key grip and DGA first A.D. Outside the industry, he was a volunteer firefighter in the Rockies and even worked on an assemblyline in a coffin factory. All the while, though, he aspired to be a director but as a single dad had to take "bankable work," putting off his dream career ambition. A personal 14-year family crisis, dealing with his oldest son stricken with mental illness and who eventually took his life, also took its toll. Finnegan shared this tragedy with the audience "not to evoke pity" but rather to show that the experience "informed him as a human being," inspired him to seek a new beginning, embarking on a directorial career after a delay of some 25 years. He found in the U.S. military a community appreciative of the life experience of an older filmmaker. Finnegan designed a branding project for the U.S. Navy to chronicle honor in leadership in order to help guide and mentor young officers. His Showcase piece profiles a Navy captain who was captured, imprisoned and tortured for five-and-a-half years before returning home, retaining his honor, sense of duty and integrity in the face of a harrowing experience.
Most of the 2016 Showcase directors were in attendance at the DGA Theatre. The other directors in the 14th annual New Directors showcase are: Ayse Altinok of Biscuit Filmworks; Emily Anderson of H&O/Ogilvy & Mather; Herman Asph of Quriosity Productions; Marie Constantinesco of MacGuffin Films; Marius Crowne of Community Films; Adam Donald of Honor Society; Kasra Farahani of Chromista; Randal Ford of charlieuniformtango; Charles Frank of Voyager; Sean Frewer of Radke Films; Michael Gluckstern who is unaffiliated with a production house; Jai Jamison, also unaffiliated; Maris Jones of Adolescent Content; Gevorg Karensky of B-Reel Films; Brad Lubin of Joinery (U.S.) and Radke (Canada); NORTON of Archer's Mark; Natalie Rae of Sanctuary; Zak Razvi of Knucklehead; Celia Rowlson-Hall of msss ng p eces; Floyd Russ from Tool of North America; Sean & Steve (Sean Patrick Kelly and Steve Figueiredo) of Cause + Effect; Justin Shipley of The Traveling Picture Show Company; Erik Shirai of Superseed Content; Sonejuhi Sinha who's unaffiliated; Laura Somers, unaffiliated; Alexander Thompson who's with The Uprising Creative for music videos and unaffiliated for commercials; Jason Van Bruggen of Suneeva; Quentin van den Bossche of Wieden+Kennedy Amsterdam; and Rachel Han Xu & Joshua Reis who are unaffiliated.
Panelist Wertheimer of BBDO noted that with varied forms of content, different platforms and sometimes accompanying challenged budgets, the agency has become "more open to considering different kinds of directors"--people who might not have been considered 10 or so years ago.
She recalled that last year for a Snickers April Fool's Day project, the budget was $10,000 with only a week to get the entire job done. An exec producer at a production company suggested an unaffiliated director. Wertheimer noted that she trusted the EP and "it all came together."
Penfield of 1stAveMachine said she was glad to see female filmmakers in the New Directors Showcase mix, including the two up on stage with her on the panel. As for advice she would offer aspiring directors, Penfield noted that in the past new directors turned to spec spots, often executing or parodying other commercials. Now she said the focus is on finding talent that has "a unique point of view."
She also advised directors to fully research production companies since they are not all the same. Find out if they have a track record in investing in new talent, if they have a mentorship program, suggested Penfield. "Try to understand how they will support you."
An afterparty, downstairs at the DGA Theatre, followed the New Directors Showcase screening and panel discussion. Click Here for photos from the Meet the New Directors Panel and after party. This evening event came on the heels of SHOOT's Directors/Producers Forum held that same afternoon at the DGA venue. Coverage of the Forum will appear in next week's SHOOT>e.dition.
Lead sponsors of the 2016 SHOOT Directors/Producers Forum and New Directors Showcase were harvest films, Company 3 and the DGA. Silver sponsors were production companies GARTNER and The Devil You Know, and advertising and entertainment law firm FKKS. Bronze sponsor was Palace Productions MediaVision.
Company 3 additionally on Thursday morning hosted a breakfast and color correction workshop for the Showcase directors.
Vince Misiano, national VP of the DGA, welcomes SHOOT New Directors Showcase attendees to the DGA Theater and Roberta Griefer, SHOOT Publisher, introduced the screening and Meet the New Directors Panel
The "Meet the New Directors" panel featured LtoR: NDS director Patrick Finnegan; Sam Penfield, partner/EFP 1stAveMachine; Amy wertheimer, SVP/group exec producer, BBDO NY and NDS directors Elle Ginter, Michael Fiore and Jacqueline Dow