Time and money. There’s never enough of either in the world of independent filmmaking.
During a Q&A with the audience after two film screenings Saturday night at Cinema Diverse, both filmmaking teams provided insight into the challenges, rewards and motivations of their craft. A lack of financing and the time it buys topped their list of challenges.
“Strip,” the short film by Michael Jortner of Palm Springs, was shot in four days,while the feature-length “Turtle Hill, Brooklyn” by Brian W. Seibert and Ricardo Valdez of New York City was shot during eight 12-hour days. In comparison, Hollywood-produced features often take weeks, sometimes months to complete.
“Turtle Hill, Brooklyn” was filmed entirely in the home of Seibert and Valdez, who are life partners as well as a writing and acting team.
When asked what he was working on next, Jortner said his team was discussing future projects and added he is more than willing to film in local homes. It got a few laughs and a few offers from desert homeowners. It underscored the point that the creativity and ingenuity required for making an independent film clearly go beyond writing, directing and acting.
Despite the technical and logistic challenges, when an indie film is done well it entertains, stimulates and provokes its audience. And these festival entries did that.
“Strip” gave us a fun, sexy, stylish look at what some will do for the one they love, when a woman in a bar invites an attractive man up to her hotel room where her husband is waiting for him. As titillating as that premise is, it also makes you consider how relationships and places can be confining or freeing in varying degrees. An intriguing notion moviegoers took away from the film is the idea that what happens in Vegas doesn’t always stay in Vegas.
“Turtle Hill” explored how a lack of communication between partners potentially can wreck a relationship. The story takes place during a 30th birthday party for Will, the main character. Quirky, loving and celebratory friends crowd the home Will shares with his boyfriend Mateo, and there’s a lot of amusing, realistic chatting — about politics, drugs, personal histories and connections, and how to make pinatas. Everyone talks — making the film a bit too long — except Will and Mateo. That comes at the end when the party is over and it becomes evident again there’s only the two of them in the relationship — as it is in most relationships, right?
I won’t reveal the ending for those who haven’t seen it. But see both films if you have a chance. They spotlight LGBT characters and situations you likely have not seen on the screen before. That’s one of the great gifts of independent films — they don’t have to follow a blockbuster formula and can tell us, as Will repeatedly asks his boyfriend in the feature, something new.
Cinema Diverse concludes today. For the film and event schedule, go to www.cinemadiverse.ning.com. Tickets are $13. Camelot Theatres box office, 2300 E. Baristo Road, Palm Springs.