Thursday, November 29, 2012

Sundance-winning Director Jon Foy on Why Open Screen is Important

By Erin Korth, BMFI Intern

Open Screen alum Jon Foy at BMFI's screening
of his Sundance-winning documentary,
Resurrect Dead
On Monday, Bryn Mawr Film Institute celebrates aspiring local filmmakers at the first Open Screen Showcase, a compilation of the best of Open Screen Mondays. The event, which includes food and drink, will be emceed by actor/comedian and former MST3K host Joel Hodgson, and is curated by BMFI Lead Manager Mike McCracken.

Jon Foy, a documentary filmmaker and Philadelphia native, made headlines with his critically acclaimed debut film, Resurrect Dead: The Mystery of the Toynbee Tiles. Foy screened his unfinished work for BMFI Open Screen audiences several years ago, and returned this past January as a visiting filmmaker to hold a Q&A session following the screening of his completed documentary, which had recently won a Best Directing Award at the Sundance Film Festival.

Mike McCracken interviewed the acclaimed Open Screen alum via email about the importance of Open Screen:
Why is Open Screen important for the filmmaking community?
Competitions can sometimes take the fun out of filmmaking, so it’s nice to have a space where you can experiment and be playful in a setting where no one’s expecting polished pieces from you. 
How is the Open Screen format different from a selective format? How does this format benefit you as a filmmaker? 
You learn different things when you watch a film without a filter. You can learn common pitfalls of first-time filmmakers (sound issues, for instance) that would normally get filtered out before they reach a film festival audience, and that’s valuable.
What did you learn about your work through the Open Screen experience?
The theater sound was so much better than my home setup, so I actually learned a bit about sound editing by listening closely to see if I’d masked my interview splices well enough. I know that doesn't sound exciting to people (sound issues rarely do), but my understanding of sound editing took a big leap forward the day I showed a sample of my film. I think it’s a good idea to take your film-in-progress for a test drive early rather than wait until the premiere to hear what it sounds like in a theater.
What’s the best thing you've ever seen at Open Screen?
I don’t know about “best”, since it’s pretty apples and oranges, but Yoon Jung Lee’s Remember O Goddess stunned me with production values I’d typically expect from a theatrically released film. But I think “best” isn't the right word to use in this situation. Everyone knows that you can just go to a theater to see something professionally produced, so that’s not really the point. The value of Open Screen Night is that you see things that are different, some of them quite out there, that you simply couldn't catch in a normal theater setting. Unpolished work has its own charm.
Thank you, Jon! You can find out more information about Resurrect Dead here. The documentary investigates the mysterious Toynbee tiles, anonymous messages found embedded in the streets of over twenty major cities across the world. The tiles’ inscriptions are thought to reference a science-fiction short story by Ray Bradbury, and their origin is often traced back to Philadelphia in the 1980s.

Check out a selection of work from Open Screen Mondays for yourself at Open Screen Showcase on Monday, December 3 at 7:00 pm.

Erin Korth is a senior at Bryn Mawr College currently interning at BMFI.

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