On Demand Weekly‘s VOD Spotlight highlights stories from the On Demand industry. Adam Schartoff interviews Film Independent‘s Dawn Hudson about the upcoming Spirit Awards and how VOD is shaping the independent film world.
Film Independent has been around for the 30 years. For the past 20, its Executive Director has been Dawn Hudson. Hudson is clearly in love with her job and proud of what Film Independent provides. The organization was started by filmmakers to create a forum for sharing information with other filmmakers. There are hundreds of workshops and labs throughout the year, offering essential information to filmmakers on everything from how to get financing to what kind of lenses to use on your shoot.
In addition to that Film Independent also hosts the annual Los Angeles Film Festival and the Spirit Awards. According to Hudson, it’s all in order to cultivate new original films and help them find an audience.
A southerner, Ms. Hudson has a down to earth and relaxed nature. She was delightful to chat with and completely unselfish with her time. Right after we got off the phone, she called back to apologize for getting my name wrong and to invite me to the Spirit Awards nominee brunch in Los Angeles.
Adam Schartoff: I was reading a little bit about you. You’re going on 20 years at Film Independent.
Dawn Hudson: I know! 2011 is my 20th year.
AS: What do you make of that?
DH: My career seems to have spanned the entire growth cycle of American independent film, starting in 1991.
ODW: You mean the cycle that started with “Sex, Lies & Videotape” and Spike Lee and…
DH: …and “Reservoir Dogs”. Then we go through “Pulp Fiction”. And throughout the 90s it grows and grows and grows. And I think it’s continued to grow throughout the last decade but almost feeding off the frenzy of the 90s. There had been such an appetite for independent films. Then Netflix came along to make these films widely available. I think it was a struggle prior to Netflix for the mainstream audience to see these films. But with their success, it was proof positive that there was a large and diverse audience for original personal filmmaking.
ODW: VOD is another channel for that appetite, is it not?
DH: Before I started this career there was the decimation of the video production companies. They had all gone bankrupt. Companies like Helmdale, Vestron and Island Alive had been funding and distributing independent films. Movies like “One False Move” and “Gas, Food & Lodging” were funded for straight-to-video release except, guess what, they were really good films. Continue reading