Notes from the field: The importance of independent film festivals

Steve Swartz, one of our judges from last year’s GFF final selection talked to us recently about the benefit of film festival, in particular small film festivals. Here is what he had to say:

I would say that the film festivals – and especially the small ones – are the cinematic equivalent of the Irish monks who kept writing alive in the fifth and sixth centuries. If not for these festivals there would only be the Hollywood Hit Factory and its endless sequels and adaptations of comic books and graphic novels.

If cinema is to continue to be a reflection of our times, if it is to continue to be the voice of the dispossessed, the strange, the wonderful, the new, the vibrant – we need to celebrate and support the independent festival. By the time I had my movie at Sundance in 1990 the corporate entities were already taking over; you can only imagine what it’s like now. This isn’t to say that Sundance doesn’t still screen some amazing films, but it’s hardly the incubator for the truly unique, truly special little film that has been produces on a shoestring minus any “names”.

So I say ALL HAIL the small, independent festival. You are the lifeblood of cinema in these benighted times.


Steve Hellyard Swartz’s film “Never Leave Nevada” (which he wrote and directed and in which he co-starred) opened in Dramatic Competition at the U.S. Sundance Film Festival in January, 1990. A former two-time Poet Laureate of Schenectady county in upstate New York, Swartz has won numerous prizes for his poetry, been a four-time finalist in the Eugene O’Neill National Playwrights Competition, and won a Green Eyeshade Award for radio arts commentary given by the Society of Professional Journalists. He’s currently putting the finishing touches on a new novel, “Me Who Am Issued Amazed.”


Notes from the field

We talked to Bruno Barros to ask him what he’s been up to since last March’s GFF16. He tells us that he has been fully immersed in the film industry after quitting his very lucrative IT job and that he is very happy. Here in his own words:

I work in the Locations department on a film set. One of the most important, but least known departments to someone outside of the industry. The locations department is in charge of finding the locations that productions shoot at and dealing with everything from agreements with the location owner as well as permits from the cities for shooting, parking the production trucks, firearm and smoke use and anything else that might be required for the production to legally be allowed to do what it needs to do.

When on set it is the locations department that deals with disgruntled neighbors and other complaints. We also act as an liaison, or messenger, between the production and the location contact. For example, if the electricians need to hang a light somewhere that was not previously discussed, they will contact a locations person to ask for permission. We then reach out to the contact to find out if that is okay or not.

Locations is usually the first and last department on set. We put up signs to insure production knows where to go and we also deal with the trash at the end of the day that was created by production.

It’s a tough department with long hours but it provides the opportunity to work with every department and learn what everyone does and needs to get their job done. Locations is a great department to work in for anyone trying to become a producer.

Bruno Barros comes from an IT background.  His goal is to be a producer/director full time. He quit his IT job and jumped into the film industry full time (vs. the part time he had been scheduling). Currently he is working for a TV show as a scout in order to learn as many aspects of production as possible and loves it. Last year Bruno began working with the Greenpoint Film Festival organizing all the final screening materials; he was the point person for everything technical. He continues to work with GFF17 in an expanded capacity.

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