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‪#‎AskSparky‬, is Slamdance's Q&A series where you can ask ‪#‎Slamdancers‬ questions on Twitter. Our second session took place on June 12th at 11am PST. Josh Mandel, producer and Slamdance alum & programmer was online to answer, in 140 characters or less, questions about filmmaking and programming for Slamdance. The new film he produced, UNCERTAIN TERMS, premieres at LA Film Fest on 6/14.

In case you missed the Q&A, here's how it went down:

JM: Hi guys! @JMMandel here. Today I'm talking @Slamdance programming & producing films. Look forward to your questions. Use #AskSparky hashtag.

Q: First as a filmmaker and then as a Slamdance programmer what advice would you give a filmmaker starting out today?

JM: To kick off our #AskSparky, I'd like to offer a valuable piece of advice to all filmmakers starting out today: watch movies. Lots of them. How can you know what festivals, distributors, audiences are looking for if you don't watch films being made around you?

Q: How do you find the films/filmmakers you produce with?

JM: One of the perks of programming for Slamdance is getting to meet exciting new filmmakers on the verge of breaking out. I found the director of my latest film, UNCERTAIN TERMS, through Slamdance. Nathan was a Shorts alumnus.

Q: What are you most excited about in 2015 programming for Slamdance?

JM: Slamdance 2015 is about expanding the scope and reach, giving more opportunities to filmmakers to connect with audiences.

Q: In terms of time, effort and money, do you think people understand what is involved in the the making of a film?

JM: It's easier than ever to start a film. Crowd-funding, cheaper gear, etc. But, many underestimate one cost: time.

Q: What is the most important part of a short film, for you?

JM: A great short is never too long. Length, style, are secondary. What you're trying to say in your film is key. Voice.

Q: What qualities do you look for in a writer/director you'd consider working with?

JM: Many qualities I look for in a director I want to work with: fresh voice, passion, vision and being a collaborator.

Q: You're the co-captain of Beyond at Slamdance, can you explain to everyone what that category is?

JM: Beyond section showcases films from emerging filmmakers working just beyond their 1st feature, but yet to break out.

Q: What advice would you give to a young filmmaker about how they should distribute their work?

JM: Best advice for distributing your work goes back to watching current films. See which distributors took similar films.

Q: Are you seeing any major trends in your current submissions?

JM: We're early in submissions to note trends. But, we always see trends every year that reflect the state of filmmaking.

Q: Money is a tricky web in film, what are your rules for financing small films?

JM: They say more money means more problems. Micro budget has its own problems. But, major benefit of making small films is the control.

Q: Have you ever found your work available for free online without your permission? How did you feel about that?

JM: I've found earlier films available free online. I'd rather see them on legit sites with higher quality, even for no money.

Q: Any stats on how many Slam films use crowd-funding campaigns?

JM: We'd love to get more stats on Slamdance films using crowd-funding, and not limited to just Kickstarter.

Q: There are some who say that the way to reach audiences today is to give your stuff away for free. Thoughts?

JM: Filmmakers already make too little. Giving away films for free hurts. But, exposure can lead to next film and more money.

Q: What's the most important thing a filmmaker can do to be true to their vision?

JM: Filmmakers can draw inspiration from other films/filmmakers, but should experiment a lot to find their own voice.

Q: If there were one ineffective trend in current indie filmmaking that you could eradicate, what would it be?

JM: Ongoing & ineffective trend in indie film that should die: underwriting characters such that stories lack purpose.

Q: Should young filmmakers still invest in short films or strive for producing their own feature right away?

JM: Shorts are still valuable. Some filmmakers go from directing 1 short to 1st feature. Others need 5 shorts. No rush.

Q: How best for filmmakers who live outside of major film centers to meet collaborators?

JM: Filmmakers are everywhere. A good way to connect with other filmmakers when not in LA, NY etc is at film festivals.

Q: How beneficial can a festival like Slamdance prove to be for foreign filmmakers?

JM: Foreign films shine at Slamdance & introducing foreign filmmakers to US distributors and audiences. Bong Joon-Ho, Marc Forster...

Q: How has Slamdance helped you since your premiere in 2005? #RingersLordoftheFans

JM: Slamdance gave my filmmaking career a jump start with RINGERS. The exposure I got led to distribution and more films. One thing that makes Slamdance unique among other top festivals is that it's programmed 100% by working filmmakers. As a programmer & producer, I work year round to support indie film. UNCERTAIN TERMS was made with the same spirit as the films I program.

Q: So you've got a feature script, a trailer and a package...what's your advice for finding the money to make it come to life?

JM: A good package is important for financing. Seek investors that know your work or like the kind of film you want to make.

JM: Thanks for all the great questions! UNCERTAIN TERMS plays at LA Film Fest on 6/14 & 6/17. Hope to see you there! http://bit.ly/1nLjxQO 

This concluded our 2nd round of #AskSparky! Thanks to Josh Mandel & for all the questions, if yours wasn't answered, join us next time!

Stay tuned @Slamdance for our future #AskSparky Q&As!

Slamdance alumni Marie Jamora (What Isn't There) and Jason McLagan (An Elegy for Eden) met at the 2013 festival. They returned in 2014 to document the spirit of Slamdance 20.

Watch their short documentary on Fusion. Thanks Marie and Jason, it makes us feel like we're home again!

Programs have been announced for our upcoming New York and Los Angeles On The Road dates. In New York, we're showing our feature documentary audience award and narrative jury award winners, and in Los Angeles we have a special journey into the heart of mayhem with a shorts program from our anarchy, animation, and experimental programs. Slamdance On The Road is presented by CreativeFuture.

Slamdance On The Road New York
Tuesday March 25 7pm & 9pm

IFC Center, 323 Avenue of the Americas

7PM Tickets
Kidnapped For Christ by Kate Logan
winner, audience award for documentary feature
American teenagers are taken from their homes in the middle of the night and shipped to an Evangelical reform school in The Dominican Republic. The school psychologically disorients them through culture shock and isolation, to re-build them into ideal Christian adults. One such student is David, who gets forcibly enrolled in the program after coming out to his parents. The struggles David’s community face to secure his freedom reveal how far the school will go to prevent its students from leaving.

Milk And Blood by Markus Englmair
A lactose intolerant milk farmer takes revenge on his father after being wrongly accused for breaking the milk tank.

9PM Tickets
Rezeta by Fernando Frias De La Parra
winner, jury prize for narrative feature

Rezeta, a 21-year-old model born in Albania, arrives in Mexico City after living off of her beauty in many different countries. Soon she meets Alex, the guy in charge of cleaning her trailer during her first commercial gig in Mexico. Their friendship unfolds naturally, but after two failed attempts at dating stereotypical Mexican males Rezeta becomes romantically interested in Alex. This is the story of their complicated love.

Pink And Baby Blue by Catrin Hedström
A transgender woman decides between using the men’s restroom or the ladies’ restroom. Or rather, the men’s world or the women’s world.

Slamdance On The Road Los Angeles
Thursday April 3 7pm
Downtown Independent LA, 251 S Main Street

Anarchy, Animation,
and Experimental Shorts

A night of shorts filled with dark stories, psychedelic visions, and depraved observations from Slamdance's anarchic side.

Another by Sean Buckelew
A Tongue Silent Like Your Words by Vita Weichen Hsu
Bird Shit by Caleb Wood
Drink The Gloom by Yigit Kalyoncu
Glass Eyes of Locust Bayou by Simon Mercer
Kuhani by Ntare Guma Mbaho Mwine
Moving by Marc Horowitz
Promo by D.N. Williams
R/B/G by Alejandro Peña
Real Ethereal by Evan Mann
Salmon Deadly Sins by Steven Vander Meer
Unicorn Blood by Alberto Vazquez
UU by Yu Yu
Wawd Ahp by Steve Girard
Welcome by Rachel Ruizhen Ho
White Hot Grid by Jess Iglehart

For information about all upcoming dates and locations, click here.

Newly Created Slamdance 20 Collection Includes award winners and festival favorites from the first twenty years of Slamdance premieres.

In celebration of its direct distribution platform's one-year anniversary, Vimeo today introduced a completely redesigned Vimeo On Demand experience. Slamdance is a key partner in the re-launch, launching Slamdance 20, a collection of 20 Slamdance films that made their world premiere at the festival over the last two decades. The collection begins with Bindlestiffs, Hybrid, OK, Good, Wild In The Streets, and The Dirties.

Slamdance is a showcase for raw and innovative filmmaking self governed - By Filmmakers, For Filmmakers. Since 1995, the anarchic organization has served new and emerging artists, filmmakers and storytellers. To celebrate our 20th year we've joined with our friends at Vimeo to bring you a unique cinema collection packed with award-winning films and audience favorites. Please sit back and enjoy our own brand of Do-It-Yourself filmmaking as we roll out Slamdance 20.

We are gearing up to bring you another season of Slamdance On The Road. We've expanded 2014's program to include dates in New York City, Los Angeles, Austin, Detroit, Kalamazoo, Winchester, Baltimore, and a special Canadian date in Vancouver BC!

Programs will be announced by city in the coming weeks, and we have several unique lineups in the works that include festival winners and audience favorites, all with our unique and anarchic take on independent cinema.

This year's On The Road programs are presented by CreativeFuture, an organization dedicated to advancing a dynamic vision of a digital future that serves audiences and artists alike.

For more information about On The Road Dates, click here.

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