No Time Like the Present to Make your Film

"When the cost of making films is as much as a pencil and a piece of paper, then you'll have true art." Jean Cocteau

The time has come to pick up the camera, do what you need to do and get your vision into the world.

Some random observations about great moments in DIY Filmmaking.

Cody Blue Snider.  Past DIY Fest winner, and budding filmmaker.
1. An actor we know was in need of an acting reel.  So he set up a camera in an empty room.  There were curtains blowing, and the light fell in the background.  Some sounds of a suitcase being zipped up, and the actor walked by the camera and disappeared somewhere off camera. A car door slammed.  The actor came back, sat in front of the camera, reached up and adjusted the focus on himself. A selfie film. He looked into camera and said "You want to know why I'm leaving you?  Let me tell you why."  He then proceeded to pour his heart out. Got up, paced around the room, tore the curtains, threw the chair, then cried desperately on camera. Until he recovered, said goodbye and left the frame.  The actor sent that short film off to a top agency, and he was signed immediately.  I know, the agent told us the story. Think outside the box. FILM OUTSIDE THE BOX (TM)

This winning film was shot over a year at the South Pole.
2. Last year's winning film was shot by a couple of filmmakers in Syria. They took out their cellphones and filmed scenes of Aleppo. Devastated. They caught a bombing on camera, and we watched as a young child was killed from shrapnel. We watched them walk through the haunted streets of their town. They came upon a cat in the street, starving. One of the filmmakers said "We should just film cats walking around Aleppo. Then maybe people would watch what's happening here. More people look at cat videos than watch when a country is falling apart."  If you have some tragedy, sociological reality that's at your doorstep, you owe it to your talent to turn the camera on and tell the story.

A still from the Syrian Film

3. Last year's break out hit from Sundance was a film called "Tangerine."  It was shot on an I-phone, and followed some colorful characters through Los Angeles. It wasn't unscripted, but the film felt like it was.  Real people. Real scenes. Real settings.  It wasn't part of our festival, but it could have been.  It's easy to turn your camera on - harder to edit the content - but still, worth the effort.

Werner Herzog with a camera definitely not DIY
4. Last year's world film entry focused on the actors in India who perform on roadside stands, a tradition that used to exist in the west, but now only exists on youtube.  We met a variety of actors who've been playing these same roles their entire lives - a religious festival which tells the epic story of the Hindu religion.  Who are these actors? What motivates them to tell their story?  A fascinating look into a world we rarely get to see.  You just never know where inspiration might strike.  Stay open to what moves you.

This film began as a DIY Film project, became a feature
5. One of our winning films was a scripted story about a man who thinks he's being followed. Eventually he confronts the person following him and realizes it's himself having returned from the future.  He tells himself that he should go to the local lottery shop and play a certain number in order to win.  That in the future he learns how to time travel, and that he's come back to change his life.  The original twist is - that he shoots himself, takes over his old identity and goes off to win the money for himself.  A brilliantly clever film shot without CGI, just traditional camera tricks and great acting.  Films don't have to hard or complex - sometimes the simplest tale is the best tale. The trick is to tell a story that moves you, the DIY Filmmaker.

There's no time like the present.  The clock be ticking.
What's the story that moves you? What's the story that makes you angry, makes you fall in love, makes you cry?  Do you have the time to put it on screen?  Just allow for a moment that your life has been lived to this very moment so that you can do just that - pick up the camera, turn it on and tell your story.  The worst thing that can happen is that it creates great success for you - and then you'll have to deal with that.
You can make a cat film - it just should be a compelling cat film.
Either way a painter doesn't always pick up a paint brush to pay the rent. 

Sometimes they pick up the paint brush to express an emotion, or to impart some feeling that they no longer want to keep inside.  Allow that emotion out, turn on your camera and put it onto film.

"Don't forget to thank us at Oscar time."

The DIY Film Festival Team


Summer is Upon Us!

What does summer mean aside from the chirping of birdies and the thwack of the baseball bat?

Time to get out the old camera and start filming!!!

Yeah, step back,just a bit. There!
There's no time like the present to take off the lens cap and get your gear in gear.

Maybe you've just finished a course in filmmaking.  Maybe you're about to start a course in filmmaking.  Maybe you're thinking "I've got this film I want to make, how do I go about making it?"

Cannes is Over. Long Live Cannes.
Start by charging your batteries.  Literally and figuratively.

Don't just start shooting. Some folks do that and wind up with tons and tons of footage.  I know at least one Sundance filmmaker who started shooting a film about his friends, and spent a year trying to sort through the footage.

Oldie but goodie.  Cannes and QT.
Have a plan.  Make a plan. 

First ask yourself "What the premise of this film?  If I could answer it in one sentence what would it be?" Then ask yourself "What the end of the first act? What happens that propels the audience to follow my character in a new direction?"

Old foto. Still good.
Some artists are put off by the idea of the 3 act structure.  (Hint: It's been around since Aristotle's "Poetics" and he was referring to an ancient structure.  So it's been around a lot.) You don't have to follow the structure, but you must be aware of it.  Your audience is going to want to be taken on adventure, so give it to them.

Think about your ending. What's the first image I want to show on film, and how does it relate to the last image?  This is true for both documentaries and narrative films. Every story has a beginning middle and an end. Every life has the same. So think in terms of why you're telling this story, and then why you're telling this story.

Great place for Indie Filmmakers
The how is easy.   Put your eye to an eyepiece and film something.  If you're experience, or not, it doesn't matter.  Looking at what you've filmed, making choices on what works, what doesn't is pretty simple, as well as is equally important for huge films and small ones.  (There are no small films; content will alway outweigh delivery.)

Ask "how can I make this film stand out above the crowd?"  Part of that journey is brining your own pov to the subject matter.  What inspires you to tell this story? Is it like others stories that have been told? How can you make it different? 

Respect the game.  The audience is as smart if not smarter than the filmmaker.  So don't talk down to them, don't pander to them, don't show them things they've already seen, and don't insult them by showing them things they don't want to see.  It's one thing to have a fantasy world, but another thing to bring it into the marketplace.  

I'm ready for my close up Mr. DeMille

Then once you've thought these things through - forget about them.  Find your actors, or just go to your location.  Tell the story.  Let the actors give you ideas how to fix your story.  You may not agree, but they deserve to be heard. You may learn something you don't know.

When you've shot it, edited it, show it to friends.  Get their feedback or opinion.  Ask them to be honest.  Remember that one point of view won't make or break a story - but if everyone has the same note about your film then it's time to rethink it.  Reshoot a scene.  Add something else to address the concern.  You don't have to make the changes others insist upon - but you do need to understand why it doesn't make sense, or it throws them out of the story.
High five. Where's George Miller when I need him?

Think about the marketplace. Some would argue this is the first item to worry about.  But not every painter picks up a paintbrush to pay the rent.  Sometimes it's important just to see what colors come out of the brush.  Likewise, think about how and where you're going to distribute this - or sell this - or not sell it.  There's no rule that you have to sell your art.

It used to be that people trying to figure out how to use the internet charged people for use of their site. Then people realized that just having people come to the site created a brand, or brought in people who appreciated the work, and then found a way to pay that artist.  The internet is a vast place for filmmakers to put up their art, and depending on their audience, they've got a good chance at finding them.  If the audience is "studio executives" that's fine - but most executives are like anyone else in the audience, and are impressed by content, impressed by the amount of people who've come to see the content.  So if you have a million views on a particular piece of work - people pay attention to that. Whether it's good or not.  But if it's good, then you have a chance at actually making things that sell.

Sailing into the sunset in your boat from Costco.
A long way of saying "turn on the camera."  There are a million different avenues to take your work, from youtube to Universal.  From film festivals to the living room and a family audience.  It's never been easier to be creative with film.

As Jean Cocteau put it, and the DIY Film Fest's motto: "when the cost of filmmaking is as much as a pencil and piece of paper, then we'll find true artists."

They're waiting for you. Just "do it!"

Get to work!!!


And the Winners Are...

Congratulations to all DIY Filmmakers out there!  

The DIY Film Festival is proud to present the WINNING ENTRIES!  

We congratulate all of you for finishing your film, and its inclusion here is based on a variety of factors including a passion for story telling, utilization of do it yourself filmmaking, casting, editing and the tools that anyone can use to tell a story.
And here they are: 

2016 DIY FILM FESTIVAL presents



Directed by Kevin Huang. Trailer:

"Still Moon is a 16mm short film, shot in central Oregon and Colorado.   In the mid-1800s, a small crew of surveyors arrive in central Oregon.  They stumble upon an indigenous tribe, where all villagers have been recently massacred, only to find a young girl as its sole survivor.  Devastated by what he has seen as a result of the westward expansion, Spender, the cartographer of the team, decides to sabotage the expedition...- the old will always fight the new." 

Kevin's film recreates a world we no longer know, but that is still familiar for its prejudices, steeped in greed and an inability to see others as fellow humans.  Kevin's film explores the theme of man's inhumanity to man within a world that once represented honor and truth, to open a window into the soul of a world gone by. Filmmaker Kevin Huang took to IndieGogo to finance this story and vision and we at the DIY Film Fest are proud to be able to honor it here.


Still Moon trailer from Kevin Huang on Vimeo.


Kevin financed his film through IndieGogo - a DIY artist that we applaud and can't wait to see more of his work! 


Directed by Michael McCallum 


Michael McCallum (Michigan Movie Magazine)

"A one-night stand gone wrong at a high school reunion, when a man comes into town to see his dying Father for the last time and encounters an abused woman."  

Last year's DIY Fest winner for "Buffalo" Michael McCallum draws on family and friends to populate his universe.  A unique vision, a unique voice, Michael's films show that DIY filmmaking is alive and well in the Midwest.

Two For the Show-Official Trailer from Michael McCallum on Vimeo.


Director Matthew Luppino.  


Matthew Luppino Picture
Matthew Luppino (IMDB)

"Inspired by true events; follows 18 year old high school senior, Grace Connolly, who discovers that she has been diagnosed with stage 4 cancer and has been given one month left to live. As Grace struggles to accept that she is dying, she finds strength in those around her and comes to a simple realization, everything will be okay."

Director Luppino takes a story that in another's hands might be maudlin and difficult to tell.  Instead, he delivers a film based on a true events, that one can't help but identify with the characters in the film.  We all will face death at some point in ourselves or in loved ones - and how do we cope with that? Partially financed by a gofundme page, the film delivers on its premise.


Directed by Aditya Patwardhan  


Aditya J. Patwardhan Picture
Aditya Patwardhan (IMDB)
"Two older brothers discover, after their fathers death, that they have a younger brother who they have never met. They then must decide who is going to take care of him otherwise he is going to be sent into foster care." 

A simple story about a complex subject.  How would we react if a child was suddenly dumped in our laps, told that they were a blood relative.  Would we do our best to avoid disruption of our daily routine, or would we be able to look at the gift that's been presented to us?



Directed by Matthew Baker  


Matthew Baker Picture
Matthew Baker (IMDB)
"A Canadian woman openly shares about her dark days as a young prostitute and gang criminal before she connected with the Elizabeth Fry Society in Edmonton on her inspirational journey to becoming an aid worker and advocate for marginalized women."

Director Matthew Baker takes us into the world of recovery - of people who are helping others, as well as the victims.  He also finds a way to introduce us to a Canada we might never have seen before, it's beauty reflected in the tragic stories being told on screen.

A Hand In The Darkness - Trailer from Squirrels of Doom on Vimeo.

Directed by Peter Zander

Peter Zander (

"Dave James started running ten years ago and hasn't stopped. He is one of the top ultra-marathoners in the world . He says he likes the endorphin high, the process of turning his body into a machine; it takes his mind off things he'd rather not thin
Director Peter Zander takes us into the world of a man who has found that running keeps him alive.  Haunted by his past, its his ability to allow himself to be lost in the present while running that has saved his life. An excellent examination of an athlete who uses his skills to define who he is.

Directed by Albert Uria.  

Albert Uria Picture
Albert Uria
 "A short, sweet comedy about how short (and sweet) life can be..." Albert Uria was born on July 22nd, 1973 in Barcelona, Spain. He is a director, producer, and writer, known for his commercial work for brands such as Nike, Ford, Nissan, McDonalds, Ikea, Volkswagen, X-box, and Honda." (IMDB)  

In "Any Day Now" Albert Uria gives us a glimpse into his dry comic world.  Beautifully shot, wonderfully directed, the actors pull us into the ridiculousness of a one sided love story with hilarious consequences.


Any Day Now Trailer by Albert Uria from GARAGE FILMS on Vimeo.


Directed by Sashikanth Ananthachari

Sashikanth Ananthachari
"Every year in over 300 villages in Tamilnadu, India. The Mahabharata is performed as a village festival. For 20 days, and 20 hours per day, the epic is narrated as story, performed as village rituals, and enacted right through the night as theater." 

From the director: "Both Kailasam and I were fascinated with the little festivals we would cross across during our drives to various shoots. To most, they would seem like a nuisance with loudspeakers blaring and the traffic generally disrupted. To the academics, they seemed to hold no interest either as these festivals were too 'small' and disparate, for any coherent theory to be constructed from them; and they did not interest religious scholars as they could not be put in any framework of religion as it is commonly understood; but as they say, these festivals are 'legion'."

From a screening in Chennai (web)


Artur Boruzs (

"A project born out of a psychologist's search for a solution to contemporary existential dystopia among his students, is brought to life through the metaphor of Plato's "Cave."  

A fantastic short documentary that explores an event that is staged in a cave in one of the oldest forests in Romania.  The premise of the film - that people are bored and need something to do or perform is beside the point - there are people in Romania who will move an entire orchestra into a cave in the forest and thousands of people will arrive to watch a classical performance there.  Breathtaking and fun at the same time.

Directed by Zachary Craw 

Zachary Craw (Ball State Edu)
"A young boy, born from the roots of the earth, searches for his one true love. Someone that is the right fit."  

An unusual love story told through animation - two hearts beat as one in all of its permutations, and learning how to find one's soul mate.  How do we tell if someone is "the right fit?"  Apparently it's something that "just fits."


The Right Fit from Ball State University Animation on Vimeo.

Again, congratulations to all of you for completing your films.  The winning filmmakers will be awarded editing software and are eligible for digital distribution through our sponsor  Both Finalists and Winning films will receive a certificate from the DIY Film Fest. Congratulations to all of you!

"When the cost of a filmmaking is as much as a pencil and a piece of paper, then we'll have true art."  Jean Cocteau