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Los Angeles Comedy Shorts Film Festival: Makin’ It In “the Biz”

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Two expert panels advised, teased, and encouraged filmmakers attending the Los Angeles Comedy Shorts Film Festival Friday morning, while giving them a chance to peek behind the curtain of “the biz.”

Hoffman, Santomauro and Farah

The first panel, "What…In This Economy?", focused on giving management/production companies what they really want. Panelists included J.C. Spink (Benderspink), Chris Prynoski (Titmouse), and Brent Lilley and Gloria Fan (Mosaic Media).

The panelists were in a Charles Dickens mood — It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. We were told by Spink that “the industry sucks” and that Hollywood has become timid and afraid to compete. On the other hand, Prynoski pointed to the upside of the dollar being in the dumps: “Now we are the off-shore studio,” he said, referring to jobs being sent to his studio from Japan and other points foreign.

Filmmaker Take-Aways

"Do anything to get people to read your script. Lie to them if you have to. If it’s awesome they won’t care. If it sucks it won’t matter anyway." — J.C. Spink

"You don’t make as much on Adult Swim as with Disney but you can do what you want and get it done faster. Don’t get me wrong. I love Disney." — Chris Prynoski

"Do you have to move to Hollywood? Yes. It’s all about relationships. Trying to make it here without being here is like trying to find a girlfriend without going on dates." — J.C. Spink

"Remember the six degrees of separation. Don’t be afraid to ask your mom’s friend’s gardener who has a cousin who knows someone in the business. If you have a relationship, use it." — Gloria Fan

The Festival named its second panel “But I’m a CeWEBrity!”  It focused on translating success on the Internet into success in TV/film. Participants included Tom Hoffman (Fremantle Media, Atomic Wedgie TV), Mike Farah (Funny or Die) and Tina Santomauro (Comedy Central and MTV2). They all emphasized the ability of the web to get you noticed, but pointed out that big on the web doesn’t necessarily translate to big on network or cable. Santomauro explained, “We don’t need cats on a treadmill. We’re looking for great comedic writing and that’s what parlays into television and film.”

Filmmaker Take-Aways

"If you’re out there making great stuff eventually you’ll get found. But you can’t just make one video and hope someone likes it. Use the Internet to refine and shape your voice and build up your body of work." — Mike Farah

"We are always looking on MTV2 for new shows. Huge online is good but we’ll take a chance on someone with a smaller following if they’re really funny." — Tina Santomauro

"We’re in a weird adolescent phase between old and new media. The new media isn’t mature enough to make money the way old media doses. The infrastructure, the model isn’t there. People are used to doing it one specific way. You have to scrape by now and figure out how to monetize just like when TV started years ago." — Mike Farah

An area where the panels disagreed was on the matter of production quality. The first panel – more web-oriented – said not to sweat the production values. They said that if you have a unique voice and a funny story, that’s all that matters. The second panel – more MTV/Comedy Central/HBO connected – said that there is no excuse for low production value. Their message: the tools are out there, they’re relatively inexpensive, so learn how to use them.

Tomorrow’s celebrity panel will include Bob Odenkirk (Mr. Show with Bob and Dave, Breaking Bad), Julie Bowen (Modern Family), Missi Pyle (Dodgeball, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory), Mark Hamill (Star Wars) and Michael Jai White (Black Dynamite).

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About LeoOfMars

Writer, photographer, graphic artist and technologist. I focus my creative efforts on celebrating the American virtues of self-reliance, individual initiative, volunteerism, tolerance and a healthy suspicion of power and authority.