By Andy Tran
Anthony Greene loves cinema. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that he works with Reel Independent Film Extravaganza and The IndieCapitol Awards, a film ceremony that celebrates local filmmakers and the film community. We sat down with Greene to talk about the IndieCapitol Awards taking place October 12 at the Angelika Film Center and all of which it encompasses.
How did the IndieCapitol Awards get started and how is Reel Independent Film Extravaganza involved with the organization?
Greene: IndieCapitol was originally a web series hosted by Pamela Nash and directed by Cheryl M. Brown, that interviewed an array of filmmakers and supporters from the Washington Metropolitan area. The show released two seasons of episodes on YouTube and featured film notables such as Eduardo Sanchez, Jon Gann, Ellie Walton, Bruce Brown and Anthony Anderson. When devising a way to keep the show going and wondering what could be done to not only heighten press interest, but also prestige into the local independent film community, we came up with the IndieCapitol Awards. We chose to mirror the Oscars in setting up close to 18 categories, spotlighting the best in offerings from local filmmakers. RIFE has been working diligently to find its place in the oversaturated film festival scene, and this year we realized one of the biggest missteps and overlooks was the local film community. We love screening films from all over the world and introducing audiences to great domestic titles that come our way. But our local film community needs a surefire way to share its voice and be seen in high regard just as films from overseas and around the country. We strongly believe in supporting and spotlighting our film community and this event is a great way to begin achieving notoriety and acclaim for our home grown filmmakers.
Who are some the local Northern Virginia filmmakers that are participating in the event and what are their films about?
Greene: One great film of note is “Settled,” directed by Gary Voelker along with members of the NoVA Christian Film community. Another features the work of several George Mason students and alumni, “The Long Term Side Effect,” directed by Dannie Snyder. The first is a wonderfully captured period drama with a spiritual foundation and the second is about a woman who survives pancreatic cancer due to an experimental treatment that stops her from aging. The great thing is that you can find films from NoVA that mix with filmmakers from Baltimore and D.C. and vice versa. The community is really coming together to make great films.
The ceremony is supposed to be Oscar-like, what made the organizers decide to emulate the Oscars, rather than doing something more independent?
Greene: It is true that the fundamental idea of the awards are based on the Oscars. If we’re going to emulate, why not emulate the best or most prestigious? There is so much talk about people who want to be Hollywood, but as of right now we have a group of artist who are great at what they do and worthy of recognition for what they do. The awards honor the independent spirit of filmmakers who push through and make great films. The Oscar-like format is just a guideline to do so.
What is the judging process like and how are the winners determined?
Greene: We graciously had three area critics step forth and volunteer to judge the films submitted. All of the critics are published and two are members of the Washington Area Film Critics Association. It was of the utmost importance to have critics watch the films and judge the merits based on how they would critique any film for their publications. Plus, the judging had to be non-biased and completely in their control. All of the nominations are from votes received and the winners are the ones who garnered the most votes. We really hope we get more participation from critics next year, it was really hard to get three the first time out.
Which Northern Virginia Filmmakers are likely to crossover to the mainstream Hollywood Cinema world?
Greene: I really couldn’t say. A lot of filmmakers are starting to make a conscientious choice on whether they want to go mainstream or find ways to create independently. You have great filmmakers from the area like Ron Newcomb, whose film “Rise of the Fellowship” is nominated, that would be a great fit for Hollywood. But these filmmakers don’t rest on their laurels and wait. Ron has just wrapped on a project entitled “The Rangers” and he continues to push forward independently. That’s why it’s so important to continue to support and applaud our local talent.
What are the types of awards given, and which ones are held with the most esteem?
Greene: We have around 18 categories ranging from Best Picture, Screenplay, Director and Short Narrative to Original Music, Wardrobe, Make Up and Effects. Too commonly, very important elements in independent film like Sound Design are overlooked at festivals and community awards. We wanted to make sure that the complete experience is paid attention to and lauded within our community. Of course, the estimation really belongs to the nominee and the craft that they practice. An actor or actress will definitely see more esteem in winning for their work than they would for the Visual Effects category. More importantly, this is a chance for filmmakers to be introduced to and appreciate others works, forge new relationships and continue to produce. That’s the ultimate motive.