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TOP > LOUNGE TOP > INTERVIEW/COLUMN > LA interview / Interview with Kimberley Browning


LA interview / Interview with Kimberley Browning

Kimberley Browning

Film maker/Festival Director

Kimberley Browning is a filmmaker/producer, festival director/founder of Hollywood Shorts Film Program, which is an LA based industry screening series, is a festival based with a strong monthly program. Hollywood Shorts Film Program holds annual showcases of African-American filmmakers, a bi-annual of women directors, and a very popular animation focus. Sponsors of the festivals include Avid, Kodak, Panavision, and the Screen Actors Guild (SAG). There’s a department called SAG Indie and we’ve been very fortunate, SAG Indie has been a great financial sponsor. In return, the festival helps filmmakers get the SAG actors and how to do the contracts. SAG Indie has a fund that sponsors hundreds of festivals. They are a very helpful major supporter of the film festival circuit. There’s also a group called “ Key Code Media,” they sell and rent Avid and Final Cut Pro. They are Avid’s vendor and they also do a lot of education. They fund post-production and in exchange they use a lot of Hollywood Shorts’ footage for demos and stuff. The festival was founded in October 1998. Then it was pre-internet and if you had a short film, you had to come to LA, rent a local screening room which could cost thousands of dollars, you have to mail postcards to agents, and maybe the assistants will come and bring a roommate. Distributors cannot send people to festivals anymore. It’s the buyers now who come. So Hollywood Shorts Film Program tries to facilitate the short filmmakers to sell to their markets. We get them out of the screening room, we give them tequila then they’ll talk to you.

Asking the founder of the Hollywood Shorts about the importance of short film screening events.

The importance of film festivals and screening events.

I still think that film festivals are an important journey, a part of the process. But it has to be redefined because you don’t have to go to film festivals anymore. Filmmakers need to have better awareness of their films. You may waste a year and a lot of money when the film may be more effective by just throwing it on the internet. I think there’s still an experience as a filmmaker. It’s our Academy Awards® in some ways, it’s a way to find out if we did a good job. But festivals are not “the end all to be all” like they used to be. Film festivals need to be aware. But on the other hand, festivals have had to cut back so they can’t support as many filmmakers like they used to. I still think the internet is not the best way to see a film because I want it dark and I want people in the room. I still think film festivals are important, that’s where we make our first creative relationships.

Where we meet other filmmakers as we go along. It’s important to learn how to hustle your film, how to market it, to make your audience aware of your film. You learn work ethic for when you get into features, working with people and not just putting your film on the internet. Film festivals each year nurture new generations of filmmakers that are going to come up together. That’s really important. Speilberg and Keitel and Lucas, Scorsese, they all grew up together. They have a camaraderie, a support system. If you get into 20 to 30 festivals, you see the same people that year. I work with people that I met people when I made my first short films, 1998 and 2000, and some of those people who are most important in my feature I met. Because I like this one’s script or that script’s DP, so I called him. Because American filmmakers don’t have a subsidy or the money to go to film school, this becomes our community.

It is said that currently, 1 out of 10 are unemployed in the Los Angeles area. I asked about the state of short films and self-produced films.

Government backing and funding is always difficult especially in an economic recession. Whenever the government gets too involved there’s always a political backlash. Also funding for sports and the arts are always the first to get cut. As a minority in this country, I have a view of how things work in this country that’s informed by that and I see that there’s a constant struggle between a “right” and a privilege. People who have a privilege don’t necessarily care that people don’t have access. It’s politics and people with the money don’t want to spend the money and think that support for the arts should be privatized. It’s tragic because filmmaking is not considered an honorable profession, for them it’s a hobby. I’ve been in Europe a lot and Singapore and it’s just a different mentality. It’s socio-economic & political but with Obama, things might get better now. I’ve been lucky with the support of my family but there are filmmakers who are more talented than me who are struggling. What’s amazing now is that with digital filmmaking any kid, on any corner, can have an access to a camera. For 200 dollars you can rent a Canon EOS 7D for a whole day! That’s incredible. That changes the game. I still believe that eventually we still need to learn film, to shoot film, because ultimately when you get ready to make you’re $20 million movie, you’re expected to shoot film. That’s the industry standard. You still have to learn the art of filmmaking. Ever since final draft came out, I don’t know anybody who actually knows the format of a screenplay. Final draft does everything for you now.

There’s give and take with every innovation. But if that means that an 18-year-old kid from the south side of Chicago who’s coming from 3 generations of poverty has a story to tell. Then I’m going to get to hear it now. That’s cool. It’s accessibility. It’s not just the rich kids now. Now with more economically sound minorities; Blacks, Japanese, Asian and Latin American filmmakers will be able to tell their stories.

Being an African-American herself, there were many references to “minorities” in her answers. To this day, in the U.S., filmmaking may still be thought of as a form of art that’s just for people with money (read white people). Looking beyond thinking of short films as just a business opportunity or a calling card, Kimberley sees a big potential in short films as the stage from which minorities can convey their messages.