Thursday, March 19, 2015


Thank you to all the film and media makers who submitted their work for consideration for the new season of TvFILM premiering this June.  Also, thank you to everyone who helped to get the word out for our latest call for entries.  We received many fantastic short films, which is great, but this makes the job for our selection panel even harder.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s a nice problem to have.  We promise to pack as much upstate-indie film into our new season as we can.   
Stay tuned for more as we journey to our June premiere!
Thanks again, to everyone you submitted, supports and continues to watch! 

Monday, March 2, 2015

TvFILM's TOP Five Reasons to Submit Your Film!

1.     You can tell your mom, you’re on TV.  Beats YouTube, right?

2.     Inspire others!

3.     Public TV is to television, what Apple is to computers. (cough) Cool Kids!

4.     Talk about your film.  TvFILM interviews the filmmakers before their film is shown.

5.     We will pay you!  TvFILM pays filmmakers for the right to broadcast their film.   

Friday, February 20, 2015

Happy Birthday Sam.

Sam Peckinpah, iconic filmmaker, may not be a natural fit for TvFILM.  He made Hollywood films his whole career, and the films he made were very divisive- some hate them and some love them.  His filmography ranges from the genre re-defining, “The Wild Bunch,” to the car chase staple, “The Getaway,” to his old west character study,“Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid,” to his vastly underrated, “The Osterman Weekend.”  Unfortunately, he passed away in 1984, but his legacy lives on. 

My first exposure to Sam was watching the documentary, “Hollywood Mavericks.”  The film tells how many of our beloved American filmmaking auteurs such as John Ford, Orson Welles and Martin Scorsese made films, their way, in Hollywood.  It included archived footage of Sam Peckinpah being interviewed on television, I think sometime in sixties.  Sam sat the on stage wearing silver-mirrored aviator sunglasses, a pencil thin moustache, smoking a cigarette.  He mumbled his answers, barely answering the question that was presented to him.  The fourteen-year-old version of me was not particularly struck by him, considering I had not seen any of his films yet.  It was when Paul Schrader, writer of “Taxi Driver,” (which at that time just blew my mind) started to talk about Peckinpah’s films.  Schrader explained that many of Peckinpah’s protagonists are usually not good men.  Peckinpah did not sugar coat who these men were, but even in showing their true nature-killers, gangsters, rapists, he felt they could still do good.  This is apparent in his masterpiece, “The Wild Bunch.”  The film tells the story of a group of aging gun fighters facing the twilight of the western frontier.  They do whatever it takes to survive, including letting a rogue Mexican General torture one of their own.  In the end they choose one last stand to help their man in the face of the General and his many armed men.  Cue bloodshed.  As a filmmaker he is most known for how he used violence in his films, most notably the use of slow motion while depicting violence.  This is most evident in the climax of “The Wild Bunch.”
Sam told stories from material that other filmmakers of his time would deem as nothing more than Saturday morning serials.  He used standard film genres like the western or war film to explore themes concerning change, masculinity, violence, technology, and morality, just to name a few.  In this sense, I think he is very much in step with TvFILM’s independent spirit.  It is well documented how much Peckinpah butted heads with Hollywood studio bosses.  I have no doubt that if he lived longer he would have made independent films.   

Sam Peckinpah would have been 90 years old on Saturday, February 21.  I’ll admit-I’m a fan.  I recently purchased a limited release, Blu-Ray copy of his 1974 film, “Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia.”  Do I like all his films?  No, and learning about his real-life problems with alcohol and drugs is very sad.  It’s his spirit of creating something so personal on such a broad stage that resonates with me most and pushes me to do the same.  I recommend you check out some of his films or even re-watch some of your Peckinpah favorites.

PS – The TvFILM Call for Entries is still open – you can still submit.  Pleas

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Michael Myers, Independent Filmmaker

Remember that serial killer from the film franchise, “Halloween?”  Michael Myers, right. I bet you’ve never thought of this masked, madman as an independent filmmaker?  I just finished reading, “Shock Value” byJason Zinoman.  The book’s main premise is that as we moved out of the sixties, horror films started to look and scare different.  What happened was filmmakers like John Carpenter, who directed “Halloween,” George Romero and Wes Craven began to make a new type of horror film.  These filmmakers made films that did not have the gothic aesthetic of Frankenstein or the traditional scares of Hitchcock.  I’m talking about films like “Halloween,” “Night of the Living Dead,” and “Last House on the Left,” just to mention a few.  I’d like to mention that most of these horror filmmakers were working independently, outside the Hollywood system.  For example George Romero worked in his native Pittsburgh, Wes Craven in NYC and even Dario Argento in Italy.

Now this post is not about the minutia of why these films were so important in changing horror films, I’ll save that for October.  It is worth noting however, the kind of impact a handful of true independent films had on the Hollywood filmmaking industry as a whole- an impact we are still feeling today.  Just to go back to Mr. Zinoman’s book, I was struck by his observation that from the late sixties to the special effects revolution of the early eighties, these independent films fiercely broke new ground on all fronts – story, visuals, music, and casting!  This fertile time of genre filmmaking has yet to be repeated.

I think it might be lost, how many different film genres live under the banner of independent filmmaking.  Right now, TvFILM is in the middle of our latest Call for Entries (psss, there is still time to submit!) and just like the previous six seasons, we’re getting short films of all shapes and sizes.  One of my favorite things about this series is how local filmmakers defy convention creating any type of short film.  I can’t wait for this new season!   TvFILM proves that local, independent film is truly a Crayola 64 Crayon box!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

The Video Store: Age of Extinction

What happened to video stores?  I’ll admit towards the end, I was not renting regularly at my local neighborhood shop, Déjà Vu Video, in Albany.  I’d make a special trip to find some obscure art house gem. Other than that I had started to use my cable’s on-demand service (in hindsight this was a mistake) but I didn’t think video stores would disappear entirely.
It seemed that one day video stores were here and the next they were gone.  Not so long ago I was out at a restaurant that had a Hollywood Video next to it.  Now, I refused to support the big, corporate guys, namely Blockbuster and Hollywood Video.  But at that point I could see the writing on the wall, video stores were going the way of the dinosaur.  I decided to go in, get a membership and rent some videos, just so my son could experience something that had played such a large role in my life.

Cut to: Wayne and Garth waving their arms, saying dittle-lee-do, dittle-lee-do.  I grew up in the age of video.  I was eight years old when my family first got a VCR.  I remember the first film we rented –“48hrs” starring Eddie Murphy and Nick Nolte.  Yup, a nice R-rated film for family time.  Anyway, I consumed movies and later on I worked at some video stores, one being the dreaded Blockbuster. It was the age of videotape, Sega Genesis and late fees!  I have a great affinity for this bygone era.  Who wouldn’t love a place where you have endless cinematic options?  It was an experience cruising the shelves in search of that perfect title. 
There are a few theories out there on what happened but basically it was a slew of bad business decisions made by large corporations, who by that point controlled the industry.  At the same time new alternatives like Netflix and on-demand services started to appear.  Let’s be honest- just clicking with your remote, going online or getting a DVD in the mail is easy!  The result is we wake up one day and there is no more video stores.  The most disturbing part of this whole story is no one seems to care.  I can understand that they might not be as popular as they once were, given the convenience and selection of the alternatives but to have them gone and forgotten?   

Now to tie this back to local independent film, because that’s why you’re here, right?  Your local video stores supported true independent film from the start.  Not only could you usually find a great selection of independent or hard to find films but some indie filmmakers were able to market their film directly to these video stores. The films could then get shelf time and were much more likely to be rented and watched then someone finding it on the World Wide Web!  This was especially true in the beginning when no one really knew where this video thing would go.
Basically what I’ve come to realize is we’ve forgotten a portion of cinema culture as fast as they’ve re-casted Batman!
Do we realize what we’ve lost?  Can we go back?  Or is our media consumption and the Internet forever tied together?
To be continued...

Thursday, November 6, 2014

TvFILM Guy's Pitch to Submit!

Ok, so we’re at it again.  The TvFILM team is looking for more short films for our new season premiering this June.  I know you’ve heard this all before, send us your short film, your film on your public television station, yadda, yadda, yadda.   
What can I say now to convince you to submit your film or maybe encourage someone you know to submit?  
Well, to start with we pay.  TvFILM has paid filmmakers for the right to broadcast their films from the beginning of the series.  Take that You Tube!  TvFILM also interviews the filmmakers before we show their films in each episode. Think of it as your own director’s commentary.  We give selected filmmakers a voice to talk about their films.  I know you know this since you’re all avid viewers and fans of TvFILM.  Moving on.  Oh, and there’s the other minor, tiny, little detail- we’re going to BROADCAST YOUR FILM ON NETWORK TELEVISION!!!!  Live (not really) from the Capital Region, it’s your film on television! 
At this point I think TvFILM should sell itself but just in case there is any doubt that you should submit your film – we’re non-exclusive. This means you can submit your film to TvFILM and still submit to film festivals, distributors and anywhere else you would like to.
I’m dropping the mic, so-to-speak.  Please submit to TvFILM today.  The deadline is March 9th.  
Stay Tuned for more exciting news as season seven starts now! Thank you for your continued support.

Brandon B.
Host, Co-Producer