Get Cultured — March 24, 2015 at 11:15 am

DAMN! Film Series is a Welcome Haven for Cinema Lovers

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Film is what I like to call the ultimate marriage between art and technology. It requires the creativity that only some people possess, and the skills of a master technician/scientist to pull it off. For people that think filming is just camera and friends are missing around a dozen (if not dozens) of components that are required to produce a good movie. For example, a crew for a full-length film can easily go up to more than forty people on a normal day of filming a full-length. Let’s just say for those serious about filmmaking, starting in the business is one of the most daunting tasks they will undertake in their lives. That is why nights like the DAMN! Film Series are so important for up-and-coming filmmakers.

Created by Polyphony Creative founders Phil Newsom and Lanie Zipoy, this monthly series exposes new talent to an audience that may have never heard of them. From there, they can receive feedback, check the reactions, and grow as filmmakers. Phil and Lanie invited me to their March screening, where women filmmakers were the theme. Five completely different films, from women around the world, being presented in the middle of New York City, full of peers and good vibes is a dream for the new kids to move forward. The atmosphere was electric, the hosts were kind, and the films were all very unique. While some were better than others, all films show a promising young mind behind it with a crew ready to work for them. Two of the films stood out to me as more cinematic than the others, as they were technically sound and had a better understanding of story telling in movies.

The Ticket Seller” by Laura Archer was the first one to get my attention completely. A live-action Pixar movie, this film doesn’t only look wonderfully nostalgic, the story is told without one word being spoken. What we get is an incredibly endearing story about dreams and staleness. The other film was “Ringo” by Yaara Sumeruk, which was an exercise in style and storytelling that deserves recognition. The editing, the cinematography, and the scripts of these films gave us a glimpse of what could be two wonderful careers. The other films were not as sharp, but that doesn’t mean they weren’t full of potential. “The Balloon” by Greek director Natalia Lampropoulou and “Daughter” by Director Assia Lakhlif were both family dramas, but completely different: One a magical realistic exploration of loss and love, while the other is grounded in the harsh reality of making mistakes. The last film “Dolae” by Sanya Sequeira is an experimental movie in search of an understanding; How do you perceive love? At the end, it was the right kind of mix for a night like this. The right kind of event for filmmakers to run to, submit their short film, and if chosen, network with the right kind of people.

I recommend you go to next month’s installment, where they will show their first full-length film “Pharaohs of Memphis,” a dance documentary that will be followed by a performance by two of the dancers in the movie. This will go down on April 17th at 7:15PM. For more information, go to http://damnfilmseries.com

And if you need more incentive to go, here is a brief interview with the two magicians behind this series. And DAMN! They are good.

  1. What made you start this series? What do you hope to accomplish?

PHIL: There are so many wonderful reasons we started the DAMN! Film Series. The first being that we are huge into supporting underrepresented voices from around the globe. Also, we want to bring together film communities in our hometowns-Denver, Memphis and New York.

LANIE: We are filmmakers ourselves, and have been impressed by the wonderful work being created these days. We thought we would curate a series that celebrates entertaining short films and the filmmakers who bring this art to life. We also want to move beyond the screen. That’s why next month (April 27th) we’re hosting our first DAMN! Experience where we screen a thrilling dance documentary from Memphis-PHARAOHS OF MEMPHIS- and pair it with a live post-screening dance performance by dancers featured in the documentary.

PHIL: That’s right. And, we love that after our screenings, audience members get to mix and mingle with the filmmakers in a congenial atmosphere. I also enjoy the fact that our series has an accompanying podcast, The Story Around The Story. You can subscribe to it on iTunes. It gives the inside dope on filmmakers we spotlight.

LANIE: Our next frontier is to host DAMN! screenings in Memphis and Denver. We’re working on that now.

  1. Tell me about the process to choose the films.

LANIE: We both watched every film submitted to the film series. And, then we met to discuss each submission. Not surprisingly, we were in agreement of which films to include in the series. We just had to figure out how to pair them thematically, and we were lucky that some natural alignments – love, women filmmakers, comedy, fresh start – were evident. 

Last fall, we saw PHARAOHS OF MEMPHIS at the Indie Memphis Film Festival, and could not stop thinking about that film so we invited the filmmaker to be part of the festival in April.

  1. Give me some information about submissions.

PHIL: We sent out a call last fall to every filmmaker we knew, and posted it online. We received hundreds of submissions from around the world. We were so amazed at the quality of the work we received, and how enthusiastic filmmakers were about what we’re doing. Especially since we were the new kids on the block.  All we asked was that the films be 20 minutes or under. We received submissions from 15 countries and 38 states. It was incredible. We’re going to announce our next call by May.

  1. Tell me more about you two. How did you meet? What prompted you to work together?

PHIL: We met about six years ago, and as producers, we would meet for breakfast to discuss our latest individual projects. Lanie also does publicity so she worked as the publicist on two shows I produced. That seemed like a good collaboration.

LANIE: Then, we produced the New York premiere of Martin Blank’s play THE LAW OF RETURN together last August. While working together, we realized that we make a great team. We quickly decided that it would be great to continue our collaboration.

PHIL: Yes, so we shot a short film together last fall, are currently producing an indie feature (set to begin principal photography April 12th), working on a documentary and curating the DAMN! Film Series. A lot has happened in a short amount of time.

LANIE: Our company is called Polyphony Creative which means independent voices working together in harmony. It seems to fit the work we want to do as well as our producing relationship.

They also have a podcast you should listen to! Go to http://thestoryaroundthestory.com

Truly a great night for people thinking of getting into the complicated world of filmmaking to go watch movies, and meet people that can help and teach you. Don’t miss it! Lanie and Phil will be waiting for you with a warm welcome.

Twisted Talk: Are you a film buff? What’s your favorite Indie film? Discuss below!

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