We’re interested in Massachusetts arts organizations that identify a specific need for artists, then shape their organization to directly meet that need – in essence, match the right horse with the right course.
We contacted Jeff Stern about the monthly screening series he runs with collaborator Zak Lee, giving local filmmakers an open, democratic forum for their film & video creations.
The course: because of the time and resources it takes to make and screen new film/video, it’s hard to find that immediacy and vitality of responsive community of peers; plus, sometimes showing your work is about who you know… and what if you don’t know anybody?
The horse: Open Screen, a monthly open mike for film & video artists, now at Somerville Theatre
What we do: Open Screen is Boston’s only “open mike night” for short films. Open Screen is hosted by filmmakers Zak Lee and Jeff Stern. We offer a venue for local filmmakers to exhibit their work to an audience of their peers. Open Screen happens every 2nd Tuesday of the month at the Somerville Theatre. Each Open Screen is different, but it’s always a strange and wonderful evening. We do not pre-screen and we do not censor. As long as your movie is under 10 minutes, we’ll screen it. We do reserve the right to stop a movie if its is in very bad taste or is very offensive, but, amazingly, in our 5 years of doing this, that has never happened. Because we show everything, there is an element of chance that often results in serendipitous programming. Over the years, we have developed a dedicated core following and an expanding community. Open Screen has “regulars” who come every month and there is always a bit of anticipation about new work by Mike Szegedi, Dave Baeumler, Peggy Nelson, and James Dingle (Film & Video Fellow ’07). Peggy and James both debuted films at Open Screen that went on to play at South By Southwest. There is an Open Screen blog on our website. We are also on Facebook and Twitter.
What’s up next: The next Open Screen is December 8. In January, we will hold our annual Best of Open Screen at the Brattle Theatre in Cambridge (date to be announced). This is our chance to pick our favorite films from the past year and to celebrate Open Screen. We have a formal Q&A afterwards and give trophies and a Lifetime Achievement Award. We usually draw big crowds. This is a great point of entry for Open Screen newcomers.
What artists interested in working with us need to know: If you want to screen at Open Screen, just show up between 7 and 7:30 pm on event night with a DVD of your (under 10 minute) film. We screen in the order of submission. That’s pretty much it. Feel free to bring your friends. Feel free to just come and watch. If you are scared about showing your work, you might try leaving your name out of the credits and submitting anonymously. It’s great to test out new stuff on a random audience. There’s nothing like the feeling of sitting in the crowd as your movie plays on the big screen. It’s the best way to know what’s working and what’s not.
The next Open Screen will take place at Somerville Theatre on Tuesday, December 8. Signups start at 7 PM, screenings start at 7:30 PM. This month’s theme is “You Aught to be in Pictures.” From an Open Screen announcement:
To celebrate the end of the first decade of the 21st century, we’re asking filmmakers to make movies that reflect the spirit of the last ten years. Hence our theme: You “Aught” to be in Pictures. Get it? “Aught?” Of course you do.
One of the films screened will receive the Audience Award – see last month’s award-winning video.
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