Looking back, do you miss the days before everyone had a camera in their pocket? The days when getting your hands on the family camcorders felt so special that they could suddenly turn you into a mini-Scorsese? If you love the idea of movies made with less polish and more graininess, then DV8 Film Festival might just have a movie or two for you.
Now in its second year, DV8 began when Rebecca Shapass and Gabriela Granada, two NYU film students decided they were sick of being told there was a correct way to make films. “When you go to film school, you’re taught that movies have to be made a certain way,” Shapass said. “We want to do something else.”
Something else, in this case, meant making movies the way they had as kids– eschewing the use of editing software, and using charmingly amateurish equipment like camcorders and Super 8 cameras. To make this happen, Shapass and Granada recruited some participants, mostly student filmmakers and young movie-making professionals and, handing over some low-tech equipment, gave them 48 hours to shoot whatever kind of movie they wanted.
The only rule for the DV8 Film Festival– which is named for the analogue mediums involved, DV tape and Super 8 film– is that participants aren’t allowed to edit what they’ve shot. The result this year is a total of 18 films shot sequentially between June 3 and June 5, that are now in the process of being digitized for the first screening event on Friday June 17. They run the gamut from an experimental “self-portrait” film to a “video diary” and even a “horror-murder” narrative. “It’s great because it really limits what people can do,” Shapass said. “And because of that, they’re forced to get creative.”
Each participant has been given the opportunity to move outside of their filmmaking comfort zone in some way. Cinematographers took on directing films, while sound designers tried their hand at animation. In the same spirit of experimentation, Granada and Shapass also made a point of refusing to designate “winners and losers” at their festival. As a result, there are no judges, no prizes and no scores. The purpose of this, Shapass says, was to try to get rid of that “festival anxiety,” which she believes isn’t useful for student and young filmmakers, who are often struggling to get the best equipment or the biggest budget instead of making the best film.
“The main thing to us is that when you see Sundance films, it’s like this is an independent film festival but all these films had $40 million and celebrities, and it’s like how do I even hope to attain that?” Shapass said. “We didn’t want to do that.”
All 18 of the films will be screened at Roll Gate Studios in Williamsburg starting at 8:30 pm on Friday June 17. Tickets, $10 for students, $15 for general public. Screenings will be followed by musical performances from bands Kota The Friend, Great Smokey and Blasteroid. For more information, check out the festival’s website.