Let’s talk movies

By Alixandra Rutnik Posted on Nov 17, 2022

Candy or Popcorn? Streaming or Theaters? Film or Digital? One Screen jury members divulge.


My favorite movie of all time is She’s The Man– an early 2000s comedic twist on Shakepeare’s Twelfth Night starring Amanda Bynes. But, my favorite ONE Screen Short Film Festival winner of all time is music video “Damn I Love This Friday Night” writtten by and starring Smantha Jayne– it’s a hilarious social critique on the horrors of our social media driven world. What’s your favorite ONE Screen winner?

After a short haitus in 2021 due to the pandemic, the ONE Screen Short Film Festival is back this year with what will be an epic screening of winning films on December 1, 2022 at the SVA Theatre. Get your tickets here!

Ahead of the event, we chatted with a handful of our ONE Screen jury members on all things film. We talked to Animation & Art Director, Designer, and YG19 winner, Danaé Gosset; Film Editor at Cut + Run and YG17 winner, Mah Ferraz; Founder and Executive Producer at Hostage Films, Melissa Beth; Executive Creative Director at Best Buy, Bruce Bildsten; and Creative Director, Designer, and Author, Spencer Drate. You may want to take notes as you read because when it comes to film, these people know what they are talking about.


Danaé, in your opinion, what determines a quality film?

To me the quality of a film comes down to the emotion it succeeds to evoke, and that is achieved with every part of the movie-making working together– from cinematography to sound design to script, etc. But I’d say you can make a very powerful film with strong narrative and good cinematography.

"I’d say you can make a very powerful film with strong narrative and good cinematography."

What’s your favorite movie ever?

My favorite movie ever is Virgin Suicides by Sofia Coppola. It’s one of the first movies I watched when I was young, over and over again. (Obsessed with really). I found it to be so poetic and beautiful. It had a great impact on my sensibility and tastes. Also, whatever happenned to baby jane?

What’s a movie that was deemed “bad” by the industry, but you love it?

I really like Catwoman.

What filmmakers influence and inspire you?

My main source of inspirations are Stanley Kubrick, Paul Thomas Anderson, Sofia Coppola, Wes Anderson, Spike Jonze, Ruben Ostlund, and Trey Edward Shults to name a few.

Popcorn or Candy? Steaming or Theaters? Black and White or Color? Tripod shot or Handheld shot? Digital or Film?

Popcorn, theatre, color, handheld, and film all the way.

Mah, in your opinion, what determines a quality film?

This is a hard question since taste is personal, but I find myself considering a film great when all aspects of it (production, acting, narrative, cinematography, editing, sound) are meaningful/throughout to enhance an overall theme. So it all converses and works together in a masterful way.

What’s your favorite movie ever?

Another hard question, but one of my favorites and a somewhat recent movie is Portrait of a Lady on Fire. I feel this movie does what I mentioned in the previous answer– every aspect of it is extremely well done and it all works together to enhance the theme and narrative. I've watched it many times and every time I notice something else special about it.

What’s a movie that was deemed “bad” by the industry, but you love it?

The movie Don't Look Up. It's not like I absolutely loved it, but I wasn't mad about it and actually enjoyed it. I thought it was very smart in its social-political criticism and I recall finding the editing interesting with the usage of random internet videos. It was enhancing the idea of overwhelming technology and constant social media stimulation our society lives in.

"I thought it was very smart in its social-political criticism and I recall finding the editing interesting with the usage of random internet videos. It was enhancing the idea of overwhelming technology and constant social media stimulation our society lives in."

Popcorn or Candy? Streaming or Theaters? Black and White or Color? Digital or Film? Tripod shot or Handheld shot? Digital or film?

Popcorn! I love the theater experience, but I'm grateful for the streaming convenience. I actually really dislike when Black and White is used "just cause." Black and White only works for me when it really makes sense and enhances the story. If it's purely for aesthetics or it looks too digital, I usually don't like it. Again, it needs to have a purpose behind the choice. Some emotions are better portrayed via a still, nicely composed tripod shot, and some others are better using a more "imperfect" moving handheld. Film! I can't resist a 35mm! But again, make it make sense, not be purely an aesthetic choice.

Melissa, have you seen any new film trends in the judging process?

There are a lot of pieces that focus on the break down and examination of social and societal issues. I’m not sure if that’s a trend… rather a true way of dealing with the precariousness of our existence through the lens of an artist.

What do you look forward to seeing in the entries?

My favorite part of being a judge is having the opportunity to see the creative work put into so many projects. Stories and characters. Craft, with intention. I don’t think it’s a judge’s role to place limits or expectations. Any project has the possibility to be done in an incredible and unique way. It takes a lot of work to make a project and a lot of vulnerability to submit it. I respect all the work and understand that my judging is just one person’s opinion, not the summation of the value a specific piece might have.

" My favorite part of being a judge is having the opportunity to see the creative work put into so many projects. Stories and characters. Craft, with intention. I don’t think it’s a judge’s role to place limits or expectations. Any project has the possibility to be done in an incredible and unique way."

In your opinion, what determines a quality film? Production; theme; originality; creativity; plot; pacing/structure; characters; narrative; cinematography; editing; sound quality; music score, etc.?

Each of these elements, production, originality, plot, cinematography, editing, etc, do determine the quality of the film. As a producer, I realize how much of that can solely be based on the budget of a project. You can see the pieces that had more funding, but you can feel the love in each of the submissions. It’s not really a fair field of competition, in that way. Still, as a judge, you can only base your decisions on what speaks to you.

How did you get into the film industry?

In my first year at NYU, I had a wonderful roommate who happened to be majoring in film. It was the first time I realized that a creative career was possible. I transferred into Tisch, and never looked back.

What filmmakers influence and inspire you?

I’m inspired by filmmakers who can sustain both themselves and their creative vision on a film. People who create on their own terms, who have a distinct style and don’t fall into generic content.

What is your dream film project?

In a way, I am currently working on my dream project, producing a feature film for writer/director Ruben Latre. Hopefully, it will be something we feel proud of. Maybe even, enough to consider entering it into a competition. When the tables are turned, I hope the critics will look kindly on our work. If not, I’ll try to remember that judging is easier than producing, criticizing is easier than creating, and still, everyone is entitled to their own opinion.

Bruce, Have you seen any new film trends in the judging process?

Two trends: there were a lot of films that focused on stories around the pandemic. The other content was cause-related. That’s a trend we’ve seen across all award shows for the last five years. It’s wonderful those stories are being told, but does it speak to how difficult it is to sell long-form content to clients to sell products? Maybe.

What do you look forward to seeing in the entries when you judge film festivals? And what makes you want to roll your eyes?

I look forward to films that tell stories… that make you go “wow, that spoke to me.” What I don’t want to see, and what makes me roll my eyes, are films that are pure eye candy or so oblique that I say, “huh?”

In your opinion, what determines a quality film?

The most important thing is the story… the message. If you don’t have that, production value means nothing. As for production, as a creative and creative director, I’ve always believed every detail matters. Sweat the details. Like a chain, a film is only as strong as its weakest link.

"The most important thing is the story… the message. If you don’t have that, production value means nothing. As for production, as a creative and creative director, I’ve always believed every detail matters. Sweat the details. Like a chain, a film is only as strong as its weakest link."

What’s your favorite movie ever?

It’s much easier to list my top ten than to list one, but i’ll pull one out of the hat and say Apocolypse Now. Coppola at his best– the story, the actors, the filmaking, and the place.

What movie made you realize you wanted to get into the creative business?

2001: A Space Odessey. I didn’t get into the film industry, I got into the agency business. I started my career at almost the very beginning of Fallon (Mcelligott Rice), and for many of those years we were one of the handful of most creative agencies in the world. It was like being in the Beatles. I did it all, and loved print (rip), but at Fallon we valued the craft as much as the idea. So, when I started doing film, we finessed every detail and we were fearless. That’s what led to the granddaddy of branded content– BMW films– which I led creatively.

What trailer was amazing, and the movie was terrible?

That makes me think too hard. But, I have to confess that I hate superhero movies– every single one. Just not my thing. But the trailers are entertaining– three minutes is enough.

What is your dream documentary topic?

I would love to make a real documentary with Errol Morris, instead of just commercials. (btw: it’s a crime that almost nobody has seen his last feature doc, American Dharma about Steve Bannon. Search it, stream it– it’s powerful, chilling stuff. Should’ve won an Oscar.)

Spencer, what did you look for in the entries?

I look for a good concept and script, film execution and content, and great editing, production, and visual content. Cinematography must be high-end. The film score must have quality choices. The entries are really good–a few films are best of best. I voted for a Holocaust film in animation with high marks for concept and execution.

How did you end up in the film industry?

My father was a film editor, so he inspired me at a young age. I started a film club in college and showed visionary films and film classics. Then I got into radio, new HDTV, and Punk Globe Magazine, where I interviewed filmmakers and directors. I’ve been reviewing films since 2010- I do a lot of interviews on Youtube. I’ve authored five major films and movie poster books, and I’ve been a film judge in several major film festivals, like ONE Screen!

What filmmakers influence and inspire you?

I’ve interviewed and reviewed so many famous and visionary filmmakers on radio, new HDTV, and my authored film books. I will name a few who inspire me– Elia Kazan, Quentin Tarrantino, Robert Rodriquez, John Waters, Jim Jarmusch, Pedro Almodovar, Joel and Ethan Cohen, Todd Haynes, Spike Lee, Danny Boyle, Ang Lee, David Lynch, Martin Scorsese, Jean Luc-Godard, and Woody Allen.

Popcorn or Candy? Steaming or Theaters? Tripod shot or Handheld shot?

Popcorn! Theaters are out– there are so many film venues on the internet! Love handheld– Woody Allen uses it a lot, and I love his films and camera approach.

"Popcorn! Theaters are out– there are so many film venues on the internet! Love handheld–Woody Allen uses it a lot, and I love his films and camera approach."

What trailer was horrible, and the movie was incredible?

I do not watch trailers at all, because most are bad and horribly edited. I do not want to know a film tidbit before I see it.

DANAEGOSSET.COM

MAHFERRAZ.COM

HOSTAGEFILMS.COM

LI: BRUCE BILDSTEN

LI: SPENCER DRATE


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