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A Chat With Vimeo’s Blake Whitman About the First Annual Vimeo Film Festival

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Did you ever want to be a filmmaker? I did. I attended UCLA with the intention of becoming a filmmaker. The UCLA Film/Television & Digital Media program was an upper division program, so you had to get into school. I thought it would be a good introduction to be part of the Theater Arts program and I managed to become one of a chosen few to get past the Theater program gates but couldn't hack the hassles of the classes (and people) that were part of the department's "initiation" process.

I put the filmmaker dream on the back burner and turned to writing — though not in terms of scriptwriting. Taking a step back for a global view of my life, it's evident that I am creating films now; albeit small, short videos of strange subjects like fashion and beauty. Much of what I am doing involves interviewing people who are known primarily for their work in the fashion/beauty or music/TV/film worlds. Essentially it comes down to making uber-short films on very diverse topics. Today the difference is that the single-use camcorder is easily had for less then $25 and flip-cams easily upload videos straight to YouTube. There are three main drawbacks to that behemoth site: the videos uploaded (despite HD cameras) are of middling video quality at best; you are limited to a small time frame and film size; and file uploads can take very long. Add those up and you have frustration.

For those who seek the creative, more innovative path, YouTube just doesn't cut it. Can you really tell a story in less than 10 minutes? It can be done but not as effectively as a longer video. Where can one go for a longer story or a project with more effects that require a larger file size?

Vimeo is the answer for just about everything that any filmmaker would want from a video hosting site: great quality, fast upload time, and a community that welcomes discussions with experienced and newbie videographers. If you are a newbie to video, you can ask those basic questions and get solid advice from people on the site including Vimeo staff members like Blake Whitman, the site's Community Director and a documentary filmmaker.

Podcast with Blake Whitman, Vimeo Community Director and Documentary Filmmaker

Blake's interview gives you insight into the variety of content and ways the site can function and provide an interesting and insightful context in which to share video content.

At the end of this article are a few samples you can check out. Not only are the various videos fun to watch but Vimeo has now created its own Vimeo Film Festival (a la Tribeca, Sundance, and Cannes without the glitz and glitter).

Vimeo created the film fest to celebrate the innovative creators who choose the Internet to share their work with the world. They have assembled an array of judges for the competition categories that is amazing, plus they have an actual two-day festival in New York City in October for everyone to participate in a fun event. The competition is open to anyone, not just Vimeo members, and if you have something inspiring online, Vimeo asks you to submit it by the July 30 deadline.

The winner of the Vimeo Award for Best Video will receive a grant from Vimeo to create a new, original work. The winner of the grant will be invited to premiere their work at the Vimeo Festival and Awards in 2011 as well as on the site's home page. Winners of each category, as well as the Best Video, will be promoted heavily on Vimeo's home page as well as on the Vimeo Festival and Awards site. Categories include: Narrative, Animation, Documentary, Motion GFX, Music Video, Experimenta, Remix, Captured, and Original Series.

Jury selection: Short-listed finalists will have the chance to have their submissions reviewed by some of the industry's top names. Here are a few of the judges who will be viewing the submitted videos: David Lynch, Doug Pray, Roman Coppola, José Luis de Vicente, Fred Seibert, Lucy Walker, Justin Cone, Nabil Elderkin, Nicolas Schmerkin, Paul Miller (DJ Spooky), Ree Treweek, Vincent Laforet, Morgan Spurlock, Nick Campbell and Adam Quirk. This is just a partial list.

Given that I have done my fair share of videos, I might submit one too. I have one that is sort of twisted and out there. So why not submit one too? Get all the information on the festival and submission process on the Vimeo FAQ page.

As promised, here are a few video samples from Vimeo to check out:

Vegas Vacation:

My Vacation:

Vacation:

Hawaii Vacation:

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