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TOP > LOUNGE TOP > INTERVIEW/COLUMN > LA interview / Interview with Sandrine Cassidy


LA interview / Interview with Sandrine Cassidy

Sandrine Cassidy


In 1990, Ms. Cassidy started to work at Unifrance as assistant to the late Daniel Toscan du Plantier, then she had an opportunity to work at the short film department. After Unifrance, she worked on the production of Jean Pierre Jeunet’s “Alien Resurrection” as a translator in the US. When she joined USC (University of Southern California) in 1988, the school didn’t know much about short film besides making them, not about festivals, distribution, and there was no strategy. She told USC about such famous short fi lm festivals such as the Clermont-Ferrand International Short Film Festival. She’s been at USC for 11 years now and she takes care of only festival and distribution matters. Also, USC owns the copyrights to those student films produced at the school, so she also has the task of licensing the films.

How University of Southern California backs up students' shorts

Tell us about your school.

Ms. Cassidy: At the Cinema School, Undergraduate program includes such important studies as critical studies and production. It is a 3 year program in which a student must make a film every year. A student can be a director, but he/she can pitch in some class and become a crew, producer for another film. (to learn not only directing, but other things. USC produces 300-400 student films each year. The school also creates a compilation of student short films. They are 2nd or 3rd year student films in the compilation, and the school sends them out to film festivals around the world, to extend its visibility. Also, every year in April, a film festival is held for the school, with only USC films. At this festival, such awards as faculty awards were given, and the Award Ceremony is held at DGA (Director’s Guild of America) where many Hollywood agents come to look for the new talents. In any case, a film school’s goal should be to educate and cultivate filmmakers who can the lead in the art and business of Hollywood.

Distribution systems

Ms. Cassidy: You can see short films first in festivals, then on the internet, TV, and DVD compilations. But it seems that the visibility of shorts depends on the year: some years there is more visibility on the internet, and some years better visibility on TV for one reason or another. For example, when Atom Films started, there was a lot of publicity and that ignited a lot of interest for short film son the internet for a while. Now cell phones and web sites are good venues for short films. Ms. Cassidy also mentions www.hulu.com and www.babelgum.com as the strong internet websites for short films. Ms. Cassidy says, “Everybody is on the lookout for the potential of short films on the internet, but they are not yet a moneymaker.” Now, you can also have jobs in webisodes which are just like TV episodes. The importance of programs, previews, mini-series, and other contents on the internet is on the rise, and a lot of production work there should be available in the future.

How do festivals play an important role?

Ms. Cassidy: They are usually the only places your film can be screened in front of an audience, not just your mom. It provides an opportunity for networking and to be inspired by other films. It is the base for the short film community…we are all connected, festivals can recommend films to other festivals and, it can build up your connections, too. This is very important. Film festivals for directors, are the first place their own films, their own world, goes out to the world outside. The audience is the outside world, and it’s an opportunity for agents, managers, and producers to see your work. It is the instance your film becomes a calling card. She continues that film festivals ARE the short film industry. Film festival personnel are inter-connected, they talk about what kind of films they have, and they recommend short films to each other. She adds that networking is very important.

How do you see the future of shorts? Only calling cards?

Ms. Cassidy: Short films will be always be a place for experimenting, and is a wonderful learning tool as well. Because they are less expensive, short films will always have a special place. In terms of business, in the last 20 years, there’s a wave of interest in new technologies. But there is yet to be a good business plan. The start of webisodes, coupled with famous stars can lead to good business. A solid foundation has yet to be established but shorts will never stop being made. People will always want to have freedom to experiment, so I think there will always be a young and free spirit.