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Fun at the Ivy Film Festival

Now that I have recovered from a sleepless but very exciting trip to Providence, RI for the Ivy Film Festival, I finally have the mental faculty to tell you a little about it. I believe it is the largest student-run festival in the world and its purpose is to recognize the artistic achievements of student filmmakers and writers.

First, let me thank "Nefarious Guy" (Harrison Heller), currently a Freshman at Brown University, for his hard work getting a machinima category added to the festival, organizing a contest through Machinima.com, and organizing and promoting a panel on machinima among the many other exciting events at the Festival. Right up to the moment when he nervously went on stage to announce the winner of the machinima category - and did a great job without missing a beat - the festival was a success and an exciting experience for me and everyone in attendance.
Here's Harrison's machinima video promoting the machinima category and contest.

Despite some technical difficulties getting started, I presented a pretty broad introduction to machinima to a small but very interested audience of students of film and digital media. Harrison's wonderful parents were also in attendance, and for them it was an opportunity to learn about this strange hobby that had become a driving force for their son's creativity.

I spoke primarily of the use of built-in features of game engines and other means of "cheating" to raise the production value of a machinima movie, showing a clip from my Roadshow library as an example for each. For example, I explained (generally speaking, as I'm not a technical guru) how Andre Pesch used environmental effects to create the surreal, washed-out, medically sterile look to The Days After. For another example I explained how Jason Choi used the model viewer and a lot of green-screening to achieve a particular visual quality in Edge of Remorse. We also discussed techniques used to get around the lip-sync issue, both in terms of story design and film composition. Everyone was impressed to realize that in Bill et John you never really see any "people" in the film - the "characters" are expressed through action and acting, and the "on-screen actors" are jets.

Near the end I demonstrated the difference between "puppeteering" and "script-based" machinima, explaining the concepts and challenges with each method. I had footage from last year's Festival Arcadia workshops and the end results of two of the movies (SWA1SWA2) (we had used Jedi Knight II: Jedi Academy on an 11-computer LAN with an overhead screen). I also had the most current update from MovieStorm, which is always fun to demo (but difficult without a mouse plugged in).

After the talk, Harrison and I went to the Master Class with Martin Scorcese (exerpt & link below). I had a third-row-center VIP seat surrounded by professional filmmakers and writers and actor Ben Kingsley. I had a fantastic view of the talk and everything he said reminded me of why I went to film school so many eons ago, and all that I had learned but haven't taken the opportunity to apply, and so much more that I had never learned or even thought about... it was enlightening and humbling and entertaining all at once.

Excerpt:

Martin Scorsese revisited some of his most iconic films Saturday in a master class at Brown U, reflecting with Paramount prexy John Lesher on his signature style, the spirit of improvisation with Robert De Niro, some of his early studio encounters and his efforts to preserve film history.

The line for Scorsese’s master class, part of Brown’s seventh-anniversary Ivy Film Festival, snaked a thick S over the university’s manicured lawns, with many attendees filing in from an earlier campus screening of Scorsese’s Rolling Stones doc “Shine a Light.”

Read the full article at Variety.com

("Shine a Light," by the way, was screened at the same time as my machinima talk, which is unfortunate in that respect but I'm still very happy with those who did come.)

Later, at the awards, I met Tom Rothman, Chairman of Fox Filmed Entertainment, whose amiability and charm belies his power and strategic mind. Rothman gave the keynote address in which he delivered an uproarious depiction of the realities of the "Industry" without the least hint of discouragement or intimidation.

Winners are posted on the Ivy Film Festival site. Congratulations to Xanatos for his winning film, "Halflife 2 Anxiety" in both the judged and popular categories.

One of the highlights of my trip, I must add, was my driver, Bob (not depicted above). Ever-available with a car or limo, he made me feel like a VIP at every turn, and with my Harrison-family entourage in tow, I was certainly in good company all the way back to Boston Logan airport.

The End. Hugh, you missed a good one :)

  1. Blogger Ricky Grove | April 24, 2008 at 9:53 PM |  

    Oh, man, why wasn't I there? Great write up, Ingrid. You capture the excitement and focused interest of an event like this very well. Too bad your talk was scheduled opposite Scorsese (who blew that one?), but I'll bet the students who did show up were highly motivated. I like your mix of topics and films presented. Sounds like you had a wonderful time. Damn, what I wouldn't have given to be there....

    Here's hoping that the U.S. Machinima Festival will happen this year in the fall. It's such a confidence/awareness booster that we just can't let it NOT happen.

    Thanks, Ingrid!

  2. Blogger Overman | April 25, 2008 at 9:58 AM |  

    What a great time that must have been! Thank you for sharing the experience with us.

  3. Blogger Evan Ryan | April 25, 2008 at 2:30 PM |  

    Martin Scorcese was there?!? Damn, I wish I could have been there too! Sounds like it was a great time! ;-D

  4. Blogger Harrison | April 25, 2008 at 9:32 PM |  

    Thanks for the beautiful write-up, Ingrid! It was a lot of fun and I'm so glad you came. Your presentation was fantastic--very engaging and interactive and I really liked your use of clips. I just wish I could have squeezed more machinima films into the post-presentation screening, but we had to finish before the Scorsese talk (which was awesome).

    Thanks for coming and it was great to see you!

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