RAW Artists is an organization that promotes up and coming artists across a wide range of mediums. In October 2015 the company announced the launch of its first film festival called RAWFF. The RAWFF will occur in Downtown Los Angeles over the course of a single day. The event, described as a “pop up shorts fest” will feature work from local talent across Southern California and beyond. Numerous cinematic disciplines will be represented, with a focus on fresh, edgy, subversive programming from innovative indies. The event will also feature awards for Best Narrative, Short Best Documentary, Best Experimental Short and Best Music Video.
RAWFF is largely an effort by Nick Night, a Los Angeles filmmaker and artist with a BFA in filmmaking from Emily Carr University. His inspiration comes from the surreal, the banal, and the feelings of dreams. Immersion in these feelings is key in his body of work, supported by a strong aesthetic sense developed over a decade of instruction within a contemporary arts setting. His penchant for experimentation has led to an interest in immersive new media, including stereoscopic 3D and live-action virtual reality, and has produced work in both formats. “Festival Director” is a new title for him, one that will hopefully yield many learning opportunities and much excitement. Recently, Nick spoke to the Examiner about launching the RAW Film Festival and his hopes for its future:
Meagan Meehan (M.M.): How and when did you decide to start RAWFF?
Nick Night (N.N.): I came up with the idea about a year ago while working for RAW Artists as the videographer for a few of their SoCal showcases. RAW has always wanted to integrate filmmakers into their shows, but it proved difficult to properly present their films outside of a theatrical environment. RAW shows are always jam-packed with a myriad of worthy distractions. It was hard for audiences to remain still and focus on the movie. I noticed this and began thinking that RAW could find a way to showcase filmmakers in a way that honors their work, while continuing the RAW philosophy of supporting the “underground” creative community on a local level. The increasingly ubiquitous “RAW showcase” has become a solid stepping-stone for artists around the globe. Film festivals are career builders, and it just seemed natural direction for the organization. This year I pitched the idea at HQ and we hit the ground running.
M.M.: What styles of film is RAWFF looking for? For instance, are shorts and animations welcome?
N.N.: This year RAWFF is a shorts festival. Our program will come in three flavors: narrative, documentary, and experimental/music video. Under these categories we’re happy to accept everything from live action, to animation, to 360° virtual reality films. In terms of style, we are hoping to program high-concept work that is challenging and evocative. In art school we learn that a piece must function according to its concept. This basically means that all elements of a piece must work in tandem to create meaning. “High-concept” refers to meaning that is complex, multi-layered, existential or allegorical. We want to show films that stick with you and rattle around in your brain for a while.
M.M.: Can anyone submit a film to the festival? If so, are there any fees involved?
N.N.: Yes, anyone can submit! But with a caveat; what makes RAWFF different than most other fests is that the majority of our programming will be from local filmmakers–so three out of the four submission categories are restricted to entrants currently located within Southern California. By “entrants” I’m referring to the producer, director, or writer of the submitted film. Our fourth category is “International Offerings” which is open to all types of films from anywhere in the world. There is a small fee for submitting, as with most fests. They go up as we approach later deadlines, so the sooner you submit the more you save.
M.M.: So far, what has been the most rewarding experience involving working with RAWFF?
N.N.: Honestly it’s too early to say! Everything is buildup until the show (March 2016). I hope it’s going to be having the chance to exalt films that truly deserve it; to lend a screen to filmmakers that aren’t afraid to work outside the box and shine a little light on them, if only briefly.
M.M.: You mentioned that you want this to become an annual event. Thus, where do you hope RAWFF will be ten years from now?
N.N.: Not just annual, multi-locational! I want to launch RAWFF on the east coast and maybe overseas, any city there is a filmmaking culture big enough to sustain local programming. Keeping it local will not only ensure most filmmakers will be able to attend; it will also lend a flavor to the entire program that is indicative of the region’s unique character.
M.M.: What are your ultimate goals for RAWFF?
N.N.: I’d love for RAWFF to have days of programming with feature length films as well as shorts. I want it to be known as a stimulating festival that is immersive and avant-garde with plenty of surprises inside and outside the theater.
M.M.: What advice would you give to someone who is aspiring to become a film maker? ¬¬
N.N.: First of all, start making films with what’s available to you. The most talked about film at Sundance this year was shot on an iPhone. Lack of gear or funds is no longer an excuse to start practicing and learning. And study up. You don’t have to go to film school, but you do have to watch and read everything. You’re work will never exist in a vacuum, so figuring out where your style came from and how it fits into the zeitgeist is imperative.
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To learn more, visit the official RAWFF website and Facebook. RAWFF can also be followed on Twitter via @RAWFilmFestival