More than 75 local independent filmmakers gathered at the O Cinema Art Theater in Wynwood on Saturday, July 11, for a special workshop on making films and marketing them.
The indie movie producers, writers, directors and actors are all part of a Miami-based networking organization called FILMGATE Interactive, created by its executive director, Diliana Alexander, and others.
What might be called their mission statement is “I’m Not Gonna Move to L.A.,” meaning that they are determined to pursue their passion and their craft right here at home instead of heading for Hollywood, CA.
“All the workshops we’ve done, we’ve done them as we want to take them, meaning that we know we’re also learning from these workshops,” Alexander said. “Anything we’ve created is something that interests us as well as filmmakers because FILMGATE is formed out of filmmakers. We always come from that perspective.”
She said that they don’t create workshops for fundraising. They see a need and a lack of knowledge, or in some cases, a lack of knowledge and inspiration.
“What we did with Kenny [Riches] today is a necessary skill that needs to be improved on,” Alexander said.
“The next one will be on casting directors. So many of our members have come to us and said ‘Which casting director should we hire?’ “We didn’t know how to answer that question with an informed opinion, so we want to educate ourselves as well. We’re inviting a few casting directors to see what they’re offering, to see what their specific practice entails, so we know how to marry certain projects with certain casting directors. Everything comes from necessity.” The Bulgarian-born Alexander has lived and worked all over the world — in Austria, Hong Kong, Montreal, New York City and Toronto. She graduated with a master’s in film in Miami.
“I saw other filmmakers who were coming out of film schools and they were just lost,” she said. “They didn’t have enough skill to start working on film sets, or they didn’t know how to cast their films. They didn’t have any support. There was no organization that was doing this, so we know that this organization had to exist. We basically created the organization that we would have loved to have. Every major city that is a film city has an organization like ours.”
Guest speaker for the workshop was Kenny Riches, a Miami-based filmmaker who moved to Miami three and a half years ago and who shot his own film, The Strongest Man, on a shoestring budget of just $24,000. That film was accepted into the Sundance Film Festival, one of the most prestigious in the nation, and demonstrated what could be accomplished.
His almost four-hour talk delved into virtually all aspects of production, scripting, budgeting, legal issues, working with actors, finding agents and distributors. But he stressed that getting into a major film festival should not be your ultimate goal.
“Just because you make a film that doesn’t get into Sundance doesn’t mean anything,” Riches said. “Sundance shouldn’t be the end all and be all. Make movies because you love making movies.”