Burlington College film program grad Mark Covino of Essex is working on a documentary about an unconventional Connecticut hip-hop duo called H.u.s.hh — one of them born without limbs. But unless you’re deep in the local film scene, you probably don’t know about his movie Against All Odds.
That will change soon, hopes Vermont Film Commission Executive Director Joe Bookchin. This Saturday, October 25, marks the official debut of the Commission’s new website, which offers local filmmakers a place to post short videos. The trailer for Against All Odds is already up on the site’s “Media” page.
A state film commission’s traditional role is to lure Hollywood productions within our borders — not an easy task when other locations offer the “New England look” for less. (Take “Dawson’s Creek,” set in rural Massachusetts but filmed in North Carolina.) The VFC’s new website puts the state’s best foot forward with a front-page slide show of ethereally pretty Vermont scenes. Inside, an interactive state map and a photo gallery of likely locations aim to make producers’ planning easier.
Though a new site has been in the works since before Bookchin took his post in September 2007, he and webmaster David Watkins have been developing the current one for the past year, working with the state’s Department of Tourism and Marketing and Pursue VT. Bookchin says they were “going for a completely new look, very visual — streamlined and elegant.”
The site is also more “oriented toward in-state filmmakers” than before, says Bookchin. Local cinéastes can now create their own profiles, link to their web pages, and post updates on their projects. There’s a downloadable form they can use to prequalify for state contracts, and a forum where they can trade tips and chat about upcoming casting calls and other regional film news. In short, the raw materials of a community.
“We want to make this a clearinghouse for filmmakers,” says Bookchin, who talked to local creators such as the Upper Valley Producers’ Group about what they’d like to see on the site. Ideally, Vermont film professionals will not just network there but also showcase their skills, offering plenty of encouragement for producers from elsewhere to “buy [or hire] local.” A “Production Resources” link offers lists of potential makeup artists and grips, while another page has links to databases of music by local artists.
Currently in beta testing, the site is scheduled to go live at the Vermont 3.0 Creative/Tech Career Jam at Champlain College (click here for more info). “We’re already planning the next phase of the website,” says Bookchin, noting that video uploads are currently limited to a length of 10 minutes. He sums up the goals of the new resource: “Filmmakers in Vermont want to stay in Vermont. They want to make a living here. We want to grow our crew base here. We want to make Vermont a destination for filmmakers. I frankly think it will have an economic impact.”
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