Shedding the Stigma of the Student Filmmaker

by Peter D. Marshall

Two former Vancouver Film School students of mine discuss
their winning ways with their short film, The Little Mermaid.
=========================================

“Shedding the Stigma” by Lindsey Mann and Samantha Jewell.

There is always a certain stigma around the label of “student
film” or “student producer,” so we knew from the start that we
would have to bridge a gap in the current industry outlook.

We began preproduction on our short film, The Little Mermaid,
in March 2011 – a mere 2 months into our school year and we
hit the ground running, being considered as working industry
professionals, and working like them too.

This film began as a part of the larger series, Compendium,
which is a term project within the Entertainment Business
Management Program at the Vancouver Film School.

The first step, choosing the script, was just as daunting as
watching the finished product premiere on the historic
Graumann’s Chinese Theatre screen at the 2011 Los Angeles
Screamfest Film Festival, 8 months later.

So how does one make that leap? Especially under the stigma
discussed earlier? Dedication, hard work, love for the film
and your team, as well as the many other clichés that surround
successful projects.

Producing this film on a $1500.00 budget, with one day for
production, managing a crew of 60 people, (who were on their
4th and last long day of filming within the series) was a
monumental and exciting task. However, what now may be more
rewarding, is being able to distribute the final product, the
film that so many dedicated their talent and time towards,
into festivals and awards ceremonies.

Constructing the festival plan was a whole other realm for us
as producers, and as we are now discovering, is as well for
many others in this industry.

Through the fantastic website, http://withoutabox.com, we were
able to build a smart, detailed and promising plan geared
specifically towards the marketing strategy and promotion of
our film.

Browsing hundreds of festivals, making sure we knew every
detail of our film as well as the deadlines, requirements and
promotional materials needed for each individual festival, not
to mention submitting detailed proposals & press releases to
VFS’s marketing team, all translated into hours upon weeks of
unwavering, dedicated effort – which we were sure would have a
massive payoff.

Knowing that The Little Mermaid was a beautiful, but horror
genre film, we were able to source and contact many horror
festivals and blogs to begin the “buzz” for the film as well
as begin collecting awards.

Showing how diligent, committed and wholeheartedly involved
with the project we were as we turned from students to Alumni
and the IP (Intellectual Property) was to be passed into VFS’s
control, we were able to remain the champions and executives
of our film to see it through to as many festival and award
shows as possible.

As the first and only producers to pull this off with a
production coming from within the school, we were finally
shedding the assumed stigma and creating a calling card as
working industry professionals.

As we are ending our festival rounds with The Little Mermaid,
we have accumulated 5 Best Short wins and nominations and 8
other accolades including Leo Award nominations (and a win), a
Golden Sheaf Award and entrance into an Oscar qualifying
festival.

Looking forward, we hope to be recognized at the remaining
festivals we have left in our festival circuit as well as to
continue to work in the industry as emerging and enthusiastic
producers of original content.

Our mentor and incredible director, Nicholas Humphries gave us
some of the best advice that we took to heart for this project:
“If you don’t get your product out into the world, it may as
well not exist.”

And for our cast and crew who did all they could for us to
have an amazing film, we chose to do all we could to repay
them and have it recognized.

The Little Mermaid Trailer: http://youtu.be/jCM9s7MtonI

Behind the Scenes: http://youtu.be/Xz2a892rQ0Y

Samantha Jewell is currently living in Vancouver and focusing
on her passion for creative producing & filmmaking. Her career
goals are to continue developing IP’s and working on
independent projects, with hopes of introducing them into the
mainstream & recruiting large fan bases. She is also
interested/dabbles in the casting and talent management sector
of the industry.

Lindsey Mann is also located in Vancouver, developing and
honing the art of producing independent projects. She is a
recent student of Vancouver Film School and plans on taking
full advantage of all films, IP’s and works that she can help
on within that environment to gain experience in all realms of
producing and creating a visual story. Lindsey’s career goal
is to develop IP’s that can translate to a much a bigger
universe than just film, i.e graphic novels, ARG’s and
underground followings (to name a few).

Vancouver Film School
Entertainment Business Management Program
http://www.vfs.edu/programs/entertainment-business

========

NOTE: If you want to find out more about how Lindsey and
Samantha got their short film into so many festivals, they
would be happy to chat with you at:

Samantha Jewel
jewell.samantha@gmail.com

Lindsey Mann
lindzmann@gmail.com

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