Raindance 2017 films nominated for British Independent Film Awards

Congratulations to feature films In Another Life, Isolani, and short film Work for receiving British Independent Film Awards nominations! All three films were screened at the 25th Raindance Film Festival, and we are excited to see them continue their journey and garner recognition.


In Another Life

Nominated for the Discovery Award at the British Independent Film Awards.

In Another Life, from debut director Jason Wingard, follows the harrowing journey of a Syrian refugee struggling to reunite with his wife.

After being forced to flee war-torn Syria, Adnan and his wife Bana are separated on route through France. Adnan faces the crippling challenge of living in ‘The Jungle’. His only option is to risk his life in a series of desperate attempts to cross the channel, hoping he will be reunited with his wife. Set against the backdrop of the refugee camp known as ‘The Jungle’ in Calais the film combines documentary footage and real-life interviews with a dramatic narrative to give a voice to refugees that are seldom heard.

In Another Life had its World Premiere at Raindance Film Festival 2017, where it won the Best UK Feature award.


Nominated for the Discovery Award at the British Independent Film Awards.

From writer/director R. Paul Wilson, Scottish thriller Isolani is the story of a mother fighting to protect her son after witnessing a murder.

After she witnesses a brutal murder, a young single mother becomes a pawn in a deadly game of deception. To protect her son and start a new life, she must outwit an ambitious prosecutor, a corrupt detective and a desperate killer. Fantastic acting, clever lighting and cinematography help maintain a creeping tension from beginning to end in this edge-of-seat film.

Isolani had its World Premiere at Raindance Film Festival 2017, where it was nominated for Best UK Feature.



Nominated for the Best British Short Film award at the British Independent Film Awards.

A teenager’s perspective of the world around her begins to shift as she is confronted with its capacity for injustice.

Work was nominated for Best UK Short at Raindance Film Festival 2017.


The winners will be announced at the British Independent Film Awards ceremony on Sunday 10 December.

Click here to see the full list of BIFA 2017 nominees

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The 2017 British Independent Film Awards New Talents Longlist

On 24 October 2017, the BIFA announced the longlists for four new talent categories: Debut Director, Best Debut Screenwriter, Breakthrough Producer, and Most Promising Newcomer. The longlisted films are competing for nomination slots, which will be officially announced by Maisie Williams and Hayley Squires on 1 November. The winners of the 20th anniversary of the awards will be announced on 10 December at Old Billingsgate.

Of the 31 total longlisted films, five are in the writing, directing, and producing categories; these films include Bad Day for the Cut, God’s Own Country, I Am Not a Witch, Lady Macbeth, and Pin Cushion.

Lady Macbeth is the only film boasting two performers longlisted in the Most Promising Newcomer category – Cosmo Jarvis and Naomi Ackie. In the period drama set in rural nineteenth-century England, Jarvis, a mixed-race American-born English-raised actor, plays an estate worker; Ackie, a black English actor, plays an observant maid named Anna. Lady Macbeth premiered at TIFF in September 2016 and subsequently screened at BFI and Sundance.

Chris Baugh’s debut feature, Bad Day for the Cut, is a witty and violent Belfast-set revenge thriller which premiered at Sundance in January. Nigel O’Neill is up for the Most Promising Newcomer Award for his portrayal of Donal, a middle-aged Irish farmer who seeks revenge on her mother’s murderer.

Francis Lee’s directorial debut, God’s Own Country, portrays a young Yorkshire sheep farmer’s romance with a Romanian migrant worker. This is one of the more decorated films of the longlist – at Sundance, Lee won the World Cinematic Dramatic Directing Award and the drama won Best Film at both Berlin and Edinburgh.

Welsh-Zambian director Rugano Nyoni premiered her debut feature I Am Not a Witch at Cannes in May. Nyoni interweaves feminism with satire while channelling experiences from her upbringing into the telling of a young Zambian girl’s accusation of witchcraft and resultant removal from her village.

Writer-director Deborah Haywood’s first feature, Pin Cushion, opened Venice’s Critic’s Week in late August. The coming-of-age film revolves around the fragile and unsettling relationship between a single mother, Lyn, and her teenage daughter, Iona. Iona is played by Lily Newmark, a British-American actor longlisted for Most Promising Newcomer.

You can view BIFA’s press release which details the complete list of longlisted films here.

Fancy attending the British Independent Film Awards on 10 December 2017? Become a Raindance Benefactor to get a seat at this invite-only event.

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Champion Independent Film

You can help Raindance! We’ve been championing the voices of new independent filmmakers for 25 years. In today’s world it’s even more important that independent voices are heard. Come on! Champion independent film!
Raindance discovers new voices and new independent films. You can help!
Help us support independent filmmakers. Here’s how you can champion a film:
See which one of these films grabs your fancy:

1. Peaches

Country: Dominican Republic (Tags: Features, Narratives, The Americas)
Get info on Peaches HERE


Country: Luxembourg | Belgium | France (Tags: Feature, Narrative, Europe)
Get info on Barrage HERE

3. The Family I Had

Country: USA (Tags: Featues, Documentary, Documentaries)
Get info on The Family I Had HERE

4. Djam

Country: France, Greece, Turkey (Tags: Features, Narrative, In Competition)
Get info on Djam HERE

More info on Djam HERE

5. I Still Hide to Smoke

Country: France, Greece, Algeria (Tags: Features, Narrative, Discovery)
More info on I Still Hide To Smoke HERE


Email me your choice

You know you love independent film. Here are some ideas of how you can champion these wonderful films:

Here’s what I need from you:
  • Title of the film you would like to champion
  • Your name and email
  • Your mobile (optional)

Email me your choice

We track each film’s box office and I can tell you how close you are getting!
Help us make the 25th Raindance Film Festival a MASSIVE success!
Yours in filmmaking,
Elliot Grove
Elliot Grove

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7 Challenges Facing Independent Filmmakers

All I hear is how terrible the challenges facing independent filmmakers are. Coming back from the Cannes Film Festival this spring I ran into two veteran British film producers, who between them had produced nigh on 60 features, been nominated for or won several Oscars and who by any standard are considered to be highly successful. They were both very negative about the future of the film industry, and the prospects of making films like they had been over the past thirty years. ‘Independent Cinema’ is dead they argued.

I beg to differ.

No segment of the media industry has had as many changes since the Millennium as the film sector. Technology and film production has changed. Film distribution has changed. On top of that, rapid currency fluctuations have played havoc with film producers’ cash flow forecasts.

Here are the seven basic challenges facing fimmakers since the Millennium, and what I believe to be an effective strategic position to take for success.

1. The digital revolution has flooded the marketplace

Fact: Cheaper digital production methods have helped create more product than buyers.

Strategy: Make certain your movie is genre specific. Genre is the only way that a film buyer and the marketing manager of a distribution company can quickly visualise the movie poster, trailer and marketing campaign. Never forget that distributors buy genre, not drama.

2. Online distribution is becoming commonplace

Fact: On Valentine’s Day 2005 the co-founders of Youtube.com registered the name at www.whois.com. Youtube revolutionised film distribution and has changed the way consumers watch movies and television. The impact of illegal online distribution has also had the same impact on the film industry as it has the music industry.

Strategy: Develop a hybrid distribution strategy that encompasses traditional cinema/DVD/television releases with online distribution.

3. Hollywood is bankrupt of ideas

Fact: The gaming industry has influenced story telling techniques and filmmaking techniques. These new storytelling techniques dominate.

Strategy: Successful filmmakers are most likely artists who consider themselves visual storytellers using moving images to tell their stories. Incorporation of gaming techiques both in terms of storytelling and visualisation will make movies stronger.

And what of apps? Where a new video game can now cost $ 20m to develop and market, an app can be built for next to nothing.

4. Cinema distribution is still healthy but it is different somehow.

Fact: Not only has image and sound capture been dramatised by advances in digital technology like DSLR, but cinema distribution has been affected too. Britain screens are now fully digitised. . A digital screen does not need expensive 35mm film prints. Films can be emailed to a cinema screen’s hard drive and films can be scheduled easily with a click of a mouse. Cinema exhibition has also benefited from 3D technology. Like it or not, screens will be demanding 3D product. In America it is estimated that there will be an astonishing 25 million homes equipped with 3D TV screens by 2018.

Television networks are struggling to find enough HD content for their HD channels, let alone their new 3D channels like Britain’s Sky 3D.

Add to the mix online platforms like Netflix and Amazon Prime and you have an entirely new distribution outlet.

Strategy: Successful filmmakers will learn how to communicate with television and cinema owners to deliver saleable content in the format which will deliver maximum revenue.

5. You can’t fund them like you used to

Fact: The Euro economic malaise has translated into public sector budget cuts, dampening the political appetite for using public money to fund films.

Strategy: Filmmaking should be commercially viable without the need for public funding, and film budgets need to stand the scrutiny of investors seeking cost-effective production, as well as a reasonable rate of return.

6. Producers struggle to get development funding

Fact: Development funding is hard to get. Yet without proper development, movies will continue to suffer from weak storylines.

Strategy: Until the script is fully developed, a movie should not be made.

7. Film producers don’t necessarily need to be involved with social media.

Fact: Social media is here to stay and a strong social media strategy is something that is becoming an essential part of a film’s package.

‘Paranormal Activity’ may have cost a mere $ 15,000 to make. What Paramount bought was not the film, but the social media strategy that the filmmaker Orin Pelli developed around his film.

Strategy: The film industry will embrace any filmmaker, writer, director or producer who has a strong and clearly defined social media strategy.

Fade Out

Why not come to the Raindance Film Festival? There are over 200 programmes and talks in all aspects of independent film. Raindance Tickes and Passes are available here.

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Top 13 Sites For Independent Filmmakers

In recent years, the content of the internet has transformed itself from a controlled and manufactured environment to a vast expanse of user generated content.  Internet users can log on and create their own subjects, themes, and arguments to the sites they frequent.  This idea gave birth to sites like Facebook, and Twitter; as well as creating tools like wikis, forums, and blogs.  This new type of social media forged specific online communities where people with similar interests could share and collaborate freely on ideas.

Independent filmmakers have an ever-growing presence on social media sites such as twitter, facebook, youtube, and various blogs.  This presence has resulted in a wealth of shared knowledge for filmmakers worldwide.  These sites have become a hub for the independent filmmaking community, and are a vital resource many young writers, directors, and producers alike.

Here’s a list of thirteen sites that are excellent resources for independent filmmakers in no particular order.


Filmmakers on a tight budget know perfectly well how difficult it is to stay on that budget.  Filmmaker.com’s blog contains helpful articles regarding a wide array of topics from industry news, to new software updates, and to helpful tips.  Members of the site can post on the forums and exchange information on filmmaking as well as their own projects.  The forum is an ideal place for independent filmmakers to seek knowledge from their peers.

View Filmmaker

Film Riot

Film Riot is a video tutorial site with a comedic twist.  Host Ryan Connolly covers every subject from how to make a music video, to using CGI, to how to cast your film.  This site is a delightful departure from the typical monotonous tutorials usually found on the net as the humorous videos take a narrative structure making them actually enjoyable to watch.

View Film Riot
Follow Film Riot on Twitter
Check out their YouTube Channel

Go Into The Story

Good screenwriters know how important it is to know every trick of the trade there is (even if they do not use them all).  Go Into The Story ditches all the fancy graphics and cluttering advertisements and opts for the bare essentials of screenwriting.  Blogger Scott Myers, a screenwriting professor at the University of North Carolina, posts advice and how-to-guides daily to aid young writers in the creative process.  The blog also sports an extensive list of other great websites and blogs that serve as great resource as well.

View Go Into The Story
Follow Scott Myers on Twitter

Hope For Film

Hope for Film is the brainchild of the American independent film producer Ted Hope.  His credits include 21 Grams (2003), American Splendor (2003), and Adventureland (2009) to name a few.    Everyday Hope and various guest bloggers post advice and opinions concerning independent film.  Like johnaugust.com this blog is a great opportunity for beginner filmmakers to seek and discuss insight of an industry professional.

View Hope for Film
Follow Ted Hope on Twitter


Similar to Filmmaker.com, IndieTalk is filmmaking community in which filmmakers share and exchange ideas in a forum.  The forums are broken down into categories such as Cameras & Lenses, Screenwriting, Cinematography and Lighting, and Post Production.  The members on the forum typically offer advice on how to get around problems in filmmaking while not doing damage to your wallet.

View IndieTalk


Similar to Twitch Film, IndieWire is convergence point filmmakers and film lovers alike.  Fans of independent cinema receive information of films and festivals, as well as reviews and blogs.  Filmmakers can read articles covering topics such as production, distribution, exhibition, and festival strategy.

View IndieWire
Follow IndieWire on Twitter

John August

John August is an accomplished screenwriter whose credits most notably include Tim Burton’s films Big Fish (2003), Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005), and Corpse Bride (2005).  He started his blog back in 2003 as an encyclopedia of information about screenwriting.  Since then it has expanded into a wealth of information ranging from career advice to the state of the film industry itself. Many of the blog posts are responses to reader-submitted questions, making it a great way for independent writers to get feedback from a working professional.

View johnaugust.com
Follow John August on Twitter


Besides being one of Britain’s largest independent film festivals, Raindance also offers a treasure trove of information and how-to-tips for independent filmmakers worldwide.  Under the resources section of the site there are links to articles written by members of the Raindance team and industry professionals.  These articles detail the tricks and traps for filmmaking on little to no budget at all. Raindance also runs a film school with am innovative postgraduate film degree in association with Staffordshire University and the Independent Film Trust. They also have 7 regional offices in six countries which gives them an unusual and valuable perspective on new trends in independent film.

View Raindance
Follow Raindance on Twitter

Shooting People

Shooting People is a network for filmmakers based out of London.   It serves as a means for independent filmmakers to connect with each other by using blogs, databases, newsletters, and podcasts.  Members of the site have premiered at Sundance, been nominated at BAFTA and the Oscars, and screened at Cannes.

View Shooting People
Follow Shooting People on Twitter

Twitch Film

The world of independent cinema is so widespread around the globe it can sometimes be difficult to absorb it all it.  Twitch Film compiles everything there is to know and creates a central hub for the lovers of indie, international, and cult films.  Followers of the site can read news, reviews, and interviews regarding a huge library of international and independent films; as well participate in forums and comment on articles.

View Twitch Film
Follow Twitch Film on Twitter

Philip Bloom

Philip Bloom has travelled the world as a successful maker of short films, documentaries. adverts and much more. He is part of the new breed of digital cinematographers, using DLSRs to achieve that film look. On his website you can see his wide range of work, from his adverts with Kevin Spacey to his 5D Cinematography on the WWII Lucasfilm Red Tails.

View philipbloom.net


No Film School is a site for DIY filmmakers and independent creatives run by Brooklyn based filmmaker Ryan Koo. It offers solutions to how to get the most out of the things you create in order to sustain a long career as a filmmaker, writer, director, producer, editor, cinematographers and much more.

View nofilmschool.com

Film Maker IQ

Film Maker IQ is a group of filmmakers who discuss a range of topics. With articles on things such as Make-Up Tutorials to Camera comparisons, they answer both  the whys and hows of filmmaking and help us understand the new media wave, without forgetting the old.

View filmmakeriq.com

Filmmaking Lifestyle

Filmmaking Lifestyle is a filmmaking and video production education site. They have all sorts of helpful resources and they’ve built up a solid audience of filmmakers and videographers.

View filmlifestyle.com

Who did we miss?

Add your favourite filmmaking website in the comments box below.

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3 Painful Lessons Of Independent Film

It’s soon time for painful lessons here at Raindance. Let me explain. On the Labor day weekend in America (Labour Day if you are Canadian like me), we finalise the schedule for the Raindance Film Festival which means that a lot of filmmakers get let down because we just can’t show everything that we want to.

Year end is sentimental because I am reminded over and over again of all the trials and failures of the past year, and also of all the things I have tried to achieve since I launched Raindance on the unsuspecting British public in 1992. I also get serious year end as I prepare to clench my teeth and make another series of New Years resolutions.

It’s especially poignant this year, because so many British film organisations have disappeared: In London the New Producers Alliance crashed against a financial wall, and in 2011 the UK Film Council was legislated out of existence by the new British coalition goverrnment. Which makes Raindance the longest surviving independent film organisation in the UK.

Which is really strange music to my ears, because i remember exactly how it all started:

When I made the decision to start the film festival, I had exactly £150.00 ($ 225.00) to my name. Britain was in the throes of a recession far worse than the current one, and there was no internet. I typed a one page press release and faxed it to every sales agent and producer I could think of until the money ran out. And it all happened that first year. With a budget of nearly nothing.

So sitting here today, another milesone for me personally, and for the festival. I am reminded of three extremely painful lessons I have had to learn the hard way, and indeed which I often forget and have to learn over and over again. I am sharing these hoping that you can avoid the painful mistakes I have made.

1. The importance of content

The business we work in relies on stellar content. I have learned the hard way that if a script I am flogging, a newsletter I am writing, an event that I am promoting, or a line-up of films I am announcing at the festival is not the very best the city and country has seen, then I am simply wasting my time.

This sounds harsh, and it is harsh. But it is a reality of our business.

Scripts, programming and events need to be the best ever. And everytime I have had to go out for something new, I have had to re-invent myself or Raindance – and often without the content demanded by the market. Painfully empty screens and classrooms. Painfully empty bank accounts. Painfully lonely.

Lo To No Budget Filmmaking

2. It’s not how hard you work

Anyone who knows me personally, or has worked with me in the office, will know that I am about as obsessive as they come. For years I have prided myself with my stamina and energy. I have worn my ability to work 100 hour weeks year in and year out like a badge of honour. I can dazzle anyone with my ability to stuff envelopes, to multi-task and to go days without sleep.

Then this year, it hit me. It’s not how hard you work. It’s how smart you work.

I used to marvel at how less-energetic rivals of mine would succeed when I, with all the hundreds and thousands of hours I have worked, have not.

And this weekend – it’s just hit me again – envelope stuffing is part of the territory, but if you can’t take your eyes off the ground and look to the horizon, you are definately going to miss a trick or two.

Ouch. This one really hurts. And makes one feel very lonely.

3. Lady Luck’s painful lessons

Some of my rivals here and abroad have definately had lucky breaks. And I used to think Lady Luck just waved her magic wand and caught you unawares.

This just isn’t so. I believe one’s ‘luck’ is not pre-ordained, or a matter of chance or destiny. I believe it is earned through a combination of hard work, insight and good business sense. Which means, in my case if not yours, one has to keep focused and keep tweaking and re-evaluating the gameplan. Some day, it will get easier (or so they tell me).

painful lessons

Closing Credits

In the 5th year of Raindance I went to Sony because I heard they sponsored film festivals. “Come back when you are ten years old” they said.

So I waited and waited 5 long years and went back again, in 2003.

“We no longer sponsor film festivals!” they said.

Does that mean I was a victim of misfortune? Or just stupidly tenacious?

In May of 2013, Raindance received a 4 line letter rejecting our thirtieth (30!) application for festival funding from the civic fathers that dole out public funds. God damn – it took the team three weeks to prepare!

How should I react to this latest painful lesson of independent film?
Should I curse and swear like a sailor
Should I threaten a PR campaign?
Or should I realise that this is nothing more than professional jealousy: Raindance is far too contemporary for the hallowed halls of Those In Command?

I will let you decide!

I will ask you a favour though.

We need you at Raindance. We have a zero marketing budget this year, and if you could tell just one friend, or Tweet or Facebook one message about what we do at the festival, I and the entire Raindance Film Festival Team will be most grateful.

Here is the Raindance Twitter account – blow my ego and follow Raindance.
For extra marks, why not like our Facebook page?
We try to put interesting stuff up there.

Yours in filmmaking,

Elliot Grove


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Six Ways Independent Filmmakers Leverage Film Festivals

Film festival roles have seen dramatic changes over the past two decades. Filmmakers struggle with distribution despite the power of the internet. Film festivals themselves seem to come and go – the festival attrition rate seems to be higher than ever.

So what is the point of a film festival? This is something I’ve struggled with since Raindance Film Festival started way back in 1993. Nonetheless, Raindance has continued and indeed has managed to flourish. today where I sit from Planet Raindance I feel that more than ever a film festival roles are more important for independent filmmakers than ever.

All film festivals are the product of the vision of their creators and the result of thousands of hours of dedicated staff who work, often for little or no financial reimbursement to put on their film festival. Usually, as with Raindance – with little or no public funding. Without wanting to sound bitter (I’m not) a film festival, properly run, offers these six terrific benefits for independent filmmakers.

film festival roles1. Film festivals offer theatrical distribution

The role of a film festival is to deliver a room full of people to watch and admire your work.

The fact is independent films rarely get played in a cinema. A festival plays films in a cinema. Filmmakers can use this for their red carpet screening hoping to attract an audience. Many filmmakers use a film festival tour to kick-off for their online distribution.

film festival roles

Ken Loach receiving an award from Festival director Elliot Grove at Raindance Film Festival 2016

Film festivals offer awards

There’s nothing quite like being nominated for an award. And nothing quite as sweet as winning an award – slamming the laurels onto one’s website and postcard for your film. Although the festival you attend might not be known at all, the mere sight of a laurel wreath somehow adds credibility to your film making it a little bit easier to convince someone else to watch your film.

As a filmmaker one tends to favour festivals with key jury members who presumably watch your film and deliver to it the accolades you know it deserves.

film festival roles

Film festivals develop a filmmaker’s brand

Festivals like Raindance release a hundred films in a week. In order to attract audiences festivals describe their catalogue as a series of genres. Sometimes the festivals are genre specific. London, for example, has the famous Frightfest and London Sci-fi festivals.

Getting the branding right for your film (and your career) is the trick. for example: here is a list of essential horror and fantasy film festivals.

Whichever festival you choose, and whatever festival accepts your film, make sure that it fits your branding.

film festival roles

Journalists at the Berlin Film Festival



Festivals start the hype

The unique aspect of screening at a film festival is how the goals of the festival and the filmmaker merge. Both sides need to get people talking about the film. the festival needs the hype to attract punters to the cinema. And a filmmaker needs good reviews to add to their press kit. Hiring a press agent is often a good strategy for a filmmaker in order to maximise the festival apprearance. And hiring a publicist is an essential for a film festival.

film festival roles

Film festivals are a test screening

Many film screenings at Raindance are essentially feedback sessions. Filmmakers pass out survey forms and questionnaires. It’s not uncommon for a film to be recut after a festival screening. The festival screening itself is interesting here at Raindance because our programmers choose films from all over the world. often a film that plays well in its native country, like Canada or Japan, won’t gather the same type of audience response as it has done in its home territory. Festivals are a cost-effective way for filmmakers to test their films in front of an impartial audience.

film festival roles



Film festivals provide a community

It’s at a film festival where you meet like-minded people – not just festival attendees but fellow filmmakers. Festivals are a great place to meet new collaborators, and also to bask in the warmth of praise for your work. One of the key film festival roles is to provide an environment for networking.

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YouTube: Home for the Independent Filmmaker

Over the course of film and television’s young history, it has seen a constant evolution of new media and developments outshining its predecessors. Sound and colour gave new life to the moving image while the advent of television kept more people in their homes and away from the cinema. And now, thanks to the arrival of the the internet, going to the cinema and catching the latest weekly episode on television have become novelty experiences.

Now more than ever, social media outlets are making it easy for anyone to become someone. The arrival brought forth by new technology and new media platforms have industrially and socially changed and challenged what is now considered ‘traditional media’ at a rapid pace. Twitter has bridged the gap between celebrity and fan while also allowing anyone to build a following towards the ‘celebrity’ treatment within 140 characters. Instagram has made every smartphone user a photographer by measure of followers and double-taps. Vimeo users are considered more ‘high art’ and professional compared to the bloggers, vloggers, and personalities of YouTube.

Yet YouTube was the first platform that revolutionised the potential of new media since ‘Me at the zoo’ was first uploaded on the 23rd of April 2005. Over the course of the site’s cyber existance, YouTube has proven to be more than just a hub for Keyboard Cat and the Cinnamon Challenge, and it has definitely come a long way since the days of the  Back Dorm Boys’ lip sync videos, Chris Crocker’s Britney meltdown and the Flambé Disaster of 2005. By giving a platform to creatives, cultivating subscribers into a culture and turning ‘online content creator’ into a career, YouTube dominates and leads in online video content.

More than just a place for vloggers, beauty bloggers, gamers and Buzzfeed, YouTube remains the leading platform for independent content creators to gain exposure. The following five YouTube channels are just a few examples of those who have maximised the opportunities of the internet to cultivate global audiences and produce independent content under their terms.

PJ Liguori – ‘KickThePJ’

With over a million subscribers, PJ Liguori has come along way from making films during his secondary school days on a DV tape camera. Having spent most of his teen years telling stories before deciding to upload his films to YouTube in 2007, Liguori has cultivated an audience and made a name for himself across the internet as ‘KickThePJ.’

Subscribers of KickThePJ are a prime example of the power audiences have in supporting online content creators. PJ’s following of Tiny Planet Explorers have helped their favourite YouTuber win an award for his animated short My Utopia (2009) and the Virgin Media Short’s People’s Choice Award (2012) for PJ, Tiny Planet ExplorerAs a result of the audience’s influence seen for My Utopia, Liguori continued to pursue the potential and opportunities that only YouTube and his audience could have provided for him, his films and his career.

Since 2009, PJ Liguori has traveled around the world, earned a BA (Hons) degree in Digital Film & Screen Arts (2013) from the University of Creative Arts in Farnham and continued to grow KickThePJ and develop his skills as a filmmaker.

The shorts featured on KickThePJ showcases Liguori’s distinct filmmaking style that usually involves a degree of space, psychedelia and fantasy in every film. From the utopia of tiny planets, the parties hosted by everyone’s favourite clown Wiggles, to the diner of a Chef who is stranger than his cakes and shakesit is clear that audiences want to get lost in the worlds along with the characters born out of PJ’s fantastical imagination. Not only does he serve as writer and director for films, Liguori’s additional contributions to his films often range from acting, creating props, costuming, producing and editing.

The dedication put into over two hundred videos – ranging from short films to sit-down and travel vlogs – on KickThePJ, Liguori has attracted the attention and support of various third parties. BlackBerry commissioned the ride that was the Forever TrainColourTV produced the night with Hades, Aubrey and Robin at Hair and Brimstone. And in 2014, New Form Digital partnered with Liguori to produce his ten part series Oscar’s Hotel for Fantastical CreaturesDue to the immense following behind KickThePJ, New Form along with the help of Jim Henson’s Creature Shop put their faith in giving life to over thirty new characters from Liguori’s imagination.

Wong Fu Productions

A production company before YouTube even existed, Wong Fu Productions’ founding trio of Wesley Chan, Ted Fu and Philip Wang met in 2004 in a visual arts class at the University of California, San Diego. Wong Fu has been producing content for over a decade, and long has gone the days when Phil, Wes and Ted use to pay for a server and bandwidth in order for people to watch their sketches from a download link they passed around the internet.

Before their first upload to YouTube in December of 2007, a trailer for their first feature film A Moment with You (2006), Wong Fu had a feature film debut at the San Diego Asian Film Festival, a twenty-five university US tour, a number of freelance jobs, plans to move to Los Angeles and three Bachelor’s degrees between the three of them. 

In 2007, the company released the short that has now become  synonymous with Wong Fu Productions, Just a Nice GuyWith thousands of new fans asking to purchase the brand of ‘Nice Guy’ clothing that was specifically designed for the short by Wesley, the ‘AreYouANiceGuy’ shop was born – giving Phil, Wes and Ted the financial freedom they needed to focus solely on Wong Fu Productions.

Following the success of A Moment with You and the growing popularity around the channel, producers and managers approached the trio with prospects of a new feature length film, The Sleep Shift. After various meetings with studios and independent production houses, a disagreement with executives on casting an Asian male in the film’s lead role and efforts of people trying to change the company’s three founding members, Wong Fu Productions shelved the project in favour of focusing on their company’s original vision.

Since then, Wong Fu has uploaded hundreds of videos to YouTube – that range from comedy sketches to shorts that pull at the hopeless romantic heartstrings of their viewers – earning the company over two million subscribers. Audiences relate to Wong Fu’s content as they laugh about the common predicaments they find themselves in, in an attempt to find love like in This is How We Never Met and She Has a Boyfriend. However with narratives that tell the cycle of couples becoming Strangers, Again to the pages that need to be turned to move on in Untouchable, audiences widely associate Wong Fu Productions with capturing the heartbreaks of falling in love.

Over the years, Wong Fu has collaborated with independent musicians, like David Choi, on music videos, teamed up with Domics in telling animated Awksome Adventures, made Agents of Secret Stuff with YouTube’s own Ryan Higa (Nigahiga), and worked with Glee’s Harry Shum Jr. and Fresh Off the Boat’s Randall Park on a number of shorts. In addition to the content created as a company based in Southern California, Wong Fu  has also expanded globally and traveled around the world making films in Hong Kong, Italy and Japan; each film made in the country’s respective language.

As their audience grew so did the attention the company received from third party sponsors. AT&T sponsored the audience driven and interactive web series Away We Happened. Subaru partnered with the trio in creating the most awkward ‘meeting-the-parents-and-the-kayak’ conversation in Meet the Kayak. JC Penny helped capture the struggles of back to school in Picture DayAnd in 2016 New Form Digital partnered with Wong Fu in creating the company’s first studio-funded project: an eight episode web series, Single by 30for YouTube Red.

After years of creating content, in February of 2015, Wes, Ted and Phil announced their plan to make their first proper feature length film. Thanks to the supportive fan base that continually gave Wong Fu Productions the freedom of independence and the 6,678 backers who surpassed the goal of $ 200,000 by $ 158,308 on Indiegogo, the company was was able to independently create, produce and release Everything Before Us on the 23rd of April 2015.

Wong Fu Production has come a long way from the lip synching videos Phil use to make around the UCSD campus in 2003. Wesley, Ted and Philip were the first of their kind in utilising YouTube’s platform  for producing and creating original films. Thanks to YouTube and the support from their ever growing following, a new world of opportunity and exposure opened up for Wong Fu Productions to independently grow their company, brand and content into what it is today. For over a decade Wong Fu has continually told stories on their terms while bringing forth a voice for and shining a spotlight on Asian and Asian American voices and creatives.

Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared

‘What’s your favourite idea?’ For Becky Sloan and Joe Pelling it’s probably their brainchild Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared.

Over the course of the series’s original five year run, the British animated surreal-horror-comedy web series graced, and continues to grace, the internet and people’s nightmares with graphic plot twists and jump scares blanketed under catchy songs.

Born out of the free time Sloan and Pelling had while studying Fine Art and Animation, respectively, at Kingston University, on no budget and with the help of a few friends that made up the THIS IS IT Collective, the first episode of Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared was uploaded to YouTube on July 29, 2011. Although Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared was initially developed with the intention of becoming a series, the idea was quickly dropped after the first episode was completed. But thanks to Sloan and Pelling’s puppets who sing, dance and eat raw meat, the original short became a viral internet sensation and its newfound audience convinced the duo to expand the series.

Due to Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared’s large following and the viral potential behind the series, the second installment – uploaded to YouTube on the 8th of January 2014 – was commissioned by Channel 4’s Random Acts and the series continued to attract the attention of mainstream commissioners. However, Sloan and Pelling turned their offers down in favor of a Kickstarter campaign to fund the final four episodes of the six part series.

Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared’s crowdfunding campaign began on May 20, 2014 with the goal of £96,000 to finish guiding and teaching the show’s characters and its audience about the most important subjects of life. With an overwhelming number of cosplayers, fan artists and subscribers that have dedicated hours to analysing the show’s every detail and formulating theories, the Kickstarter campaign came to an end on the 19th of June 2014 with a total £104,905 raised by 3,540 backers.

Pelling and Sloan’s decision to crowdfund – and successfully crowdfund – the remainder of their project that required £24,000 per episode to uphold the first two episodes’ production quality that mixes live action, stop motion, 2D animation and puppetry, is a testament to the power of the internet in supporting independent content creators. Turning down mainstream support for Pelling and Sloan was a matter of creative freedom and refusal to compromise their collective brainchild. The cult phenomenon of Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared was born out of the internet and it deserved to stay on the internet – funded by the people that cared the most about Yellow Guy, Red Guy and Duck Guy. As a result, Sloan and Pelling were able to keep all the quirks of their anthropomorphic Sesame Street inspired puppets, rotten pig heart cakes and baskets of dead fish to its final episode that was uploaded on June 19, 2016.

Bertie Gilbert

Probably most well known for playing Scorpius Malfoy in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, Bertie Gilbert has put his wand away and made a name for himself aside from the Malfoy family name through YouTube.

A ‘YouTuber’ in the conventional sense since he was fourteen years old, Gilbert got his start on the site through vlogging. But at the age of sixteen through his ‘what i’m thinking about’ upload on October 11, 2013, Gilbert expressed his concerns about his future on Youtube, wanting to pursue filmmaking and wanting to be taken seriously as a filmmaker within the home of people who eat cinnamon for views. Since then, he has dedicated his time and channel to producing shorts and films.

Part of this rising generation of independent, self-taught filmmakers who are cultivating an audience on the internet, Gilbert’s involvement in his films are relentlessly hands-on. Bertie Gilbert’s name can be found at least three times in the credits of his films. Serving as director/co-director on all his uploads,Gilbert’s credits across all his films also include actor, producer, writer and editor.

Not only has Gilbert’s idiosyncratic filmmaking style, carefully constructed colour pallets and melancholy-coated original narratives earned him thousands of subscribers and views, his films have also attracted the attention of third-party distribution and production companies, New Form Digital and ColourTV. Of Gilbert’s nine films, New Form funded two of his films, one in collaboration with ColourTV.  

Will Darbyshire

From uploading skateboarding videos to YouTube when he was thirteen and making shorts throughout his teens with his childhood friends, Jack and Finn who would be later known on the internet as the twins of JacksGap, Will Darbyshire has come a long way as a filmmaker.

After graduating the Met Film School in 2013 with a BA (Hons) in Practical Filmmaking, the next logical step for Will was to continue and further his presence on YouTube as a way into directing. Since 2014 Darbyshire has put his own cinematic spin on the typical ‘YouTube vlog.’ From sharing his opinions and fears through sit down vlogs – that occasionally incorporate elements of animation – and visual snapshots of his life and travels, Will’s distinctive minimalistic filmmaking style has earned him thousands subscribers and views.

In addition to his personal YouTube channel, on the 9th of October 2016, Darbyshire announced that he had teamed up with his friend, and vlogger, Adrian Bliss in co-creating, The Watercooler, on their collabortive channel ‘vanilla.’ The series is a dark comedy that follows the mundane work week of two men repressed by a female staff member told in five parts, each under three minutes. Although The Watercooler has a much darker tone than the videos on his personal channel, the series is indicative of Darbyshire’s intricate, detail oriented and minimalistic filmmaking style.

End Screen

Although these five featured channels are mainly independent, it is clear that new production companies like New Form Digital and ColourTV and a number of companies and brands have caught onto the power YouTube and its content creators have in reaching a global audience. In addition to the aforementioned films and series supported by New Form, the company has also reached out in helping other YouTubers produce films and web series, such as the films by Sammy Paul and Emily Diana Ruth’s series Cold

With YouTube joining Netflix and Hulu in creating paid subscription based services, it is obvious that new media has radically changed and challenged itself and traditional media since ‘Me at the zoo’ was first uploaded.

In recent years, the lines between new and old media have blurred and crossed over. Showtime took Web Therapy from the web to television from 2011 to 2015, Issa Rae found HBO fame out of her YouTube web series The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl, the Kotex sponsored Carmilla gained an online cult following, the Vimeo original High Maintenance found a national audience on HBO and Broad City made its way to Comedy Central with a little help from Amy Poehler.

But as seen by these five feature channels, YouTube was the first and continues to be the leading platform in opening up opportunities for independent filmmakers that go far beyond a computer screen.

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The post YouTube: Home for the Independent Filmmaker appeared first on Raindance.


2017 Independent Spirit Award Winners: ‘Moonlight’ Shines with a Sweep

2017 Independent Spirit Awards Winners

Tonight brings us the 89th Academy Awards, when Hollywood’s finest get together to hand out trophies to each other, attempting to reward the highest achievements in cinema. Even though there are plenty of arguments to be made that trying to name the best film of any given year is foolhardy, not to mention the fact that the voting process makes it easier for the less bold, innovative films to win, it’s still a fun night of entertainment, and it just might get some general audiences to take an interest in movies they haven’t seen or heard of.

There are even more of those movies that were nominated for the 2017 Independent Spirit Awards, which were handed out last night in Los Angeles. Film Independent annually honors the best independent films, which are lower budget films that weren’t financed by a major studio. La La Land has been cleaning up on the awards circuit otherwise, but since it’s not an indie, that left its closest competition, Barry Jenkins‘ outstanding, moving film Moonlight, to sweep every award it was nominated for.

Get the full list of 2017 Independent Spirit Award winners after the jump.

The question is whether Moonlight has the power to pull off an upset. It’s undoubtedly the second favorite to win Best Picture, and there just might have been enough La La Land backlash (even if most of it is getting ridiculous and out of hand) for Moonlight to garner enough votes to win Best Picture. It’s still a long shot, but there’s always hope. Since La La Land and Moonlight were my two favorite films of last year, I’d be fine with either one winning.

In addition to Moonlight sweeping their awards, The Witch got some love with the film winning Best First Feature and Best First Screenplay for Robert Eggers, who has a bright future in film for sure.

Meanwhile, it was nice to see supporting talents Molly Shannon and Ben Foster get some recognition for their wholly award worthy performances in Other People and Hell or High Water respectively.

You can find the rest of the winners bolded in the list of nominees below.

Manchester by the Sea
American Honey

Andrea Arnold – American Honey
Barry Jenkins – Moonlight
Pablo Larrain – Jackie
Jeff Nichols – Loving
Kelly Reichardt – Certain Women

Annette Bening – 20th Century Women
Isabelle Huppert – Elle
Sasha Lane – American Honey
Ruth Negga – Loving
Natalie Portman – Jackie

Casey Affleck – Manchester by the Sea

David Harewood – Free In Deed
Viggo Mortensen – Captain Fantastic
Jesse Plemons – Other People
Tim Roth – Chronic

Edwina Findley – Free In Deed
Paulina Garcia – Little Men
Lily Gladstone – Certain Women
Riley Keough – American Honey
Molly Shannon – Other People

Ralph Fiennes – A Bigger Splash
Ben Foster – Hell or High Water
Lucas Hedges – Manchester by the Sea
Shia LaBeouf – American Honey
Craig Robinson – Morris from America

Swiss Army Man
The Childhood of a Leader
The Fits
Other People
The Witch

Barry Jenkins – Moonlight
Kenneth Lonergan – Manchester by the Sea
Mike Mills – 20th Century Women
Ira Sachs & Mauricio Zacharias – Little Men
Taylor Sheridan – Hell or High Water

Robert Eggers – The Witch
Chris Kelly – Other People
Adam Mansbach – Barry
Stella Meghie – Jean of the Joneses
Craig Shilowich – Christine

Ava Berkofsky – Free In Deed
Lol Crawley – The Childhood of a Leader
Zach Kuperstein – The Eyes of My Mother
James Laxton – Moonlight
Robbie Ryan – American Honey

Matthew Hannam – Swiss Army Man
Jennifer Lame – Manchester by the Sea
Joi McMillon & Nat Sanders – Moonlight
Jake Roberts – Hell or High Water
Sebastián Sepúlveda – Jackie

The 13th
I Am Not Your Negro
O.J.: Made in America
Under the Sun

Aquarius (Brazil)
Chevalier (Greece)
My Golden Days (France)
Toni Erdmann (Germany and Romania)
Under the Shadow (Iran and U.K.)


JOHN CASSAVETTES AWARD (Best Feature Made For Under $ 5,000)
Free In Deed
Hunter Gatherer
Spa Night

Andrew Ahn – Spa Night
Claire Carré – Embers
Anna Rose Holmer – The Fits
Ingrid Jungermann – Women Who Kill

See if Moonlight can pull off an upset and triumph over La La Land when the 89th Academy Awards air tonight at 8:30pm ET/5:30pm PT on ABC.

The post 2017 Independent Spirit Award Winners: ‘Moonlight’ Shines with a Sweep appeared first on /Film.


‘Moonlight’ Takes Best Feature at the 2017 Film Independent Spirit Awards

Get your live coverage of the 2017 Film Independent Spirit Awards here.

The 2017 Film Independent Spirit Awards have just wrapped and it wasn’t only hilarious (thanks to hosts Nick Kroll and John Mulaney), but it was incredibly uplifting. Below is a full list of all of the winning films and filmmakers, from Barry Jenkins for his work on Moonlight to Robert Eggers for his work on The Witch. Check them out below:

Best Feature

American Honey
Manchester by the Sea
Moonlight [WINNER]

Want to know more about these nominees?

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