The most poignant moment at the Vimeo Festival + Awards ceremony was when Casey Neistat (half of the famous lo-fi filmmaking duo known as the Neistat Brothers) accepted the Digital Maverick Award and quoted Francis Ford Coppola from the behind-the-scenes Apocalypse Now documentary, Hearts of Darkness:
To me, the great hope is now that these little 8mm video recorders have come around, some people who wouldn’t normally make movies are going to be making them. Suddenly, one day, some little fat girl in Ohio is going to be the new Mozart, you know, and make a beautiful film with her little father’s camcorder. And for once, the so called “professionalism” about movies will be destroyed forever, and it will really become an art form.
The words weren’t revelatory in regards to a democratized production process. We all know that with low cost production tools and virtually no-cost distribution mechanisms, anyone with a vision, time, and enough spare change to cover equipment costs can create the next iteration of Fellini or Jackass for the whole world wide web to see. The words were enlightening in regards to the idea that video hasn’t been an art form until that democratized production process came into being.
More so than filmmakers, our collective consciousness thinks of Godard, Kubrick, Coppola, and others as artists. This isn’t to say they’re not. They’ve successfully mastered influencing the emotions of individuals through deliberate arrangements of symbolic elements on the movie screen. But if you look at film as an ever-evolving, growing art form, maybe these famous directors are just masters of its adolescence.
No other form of art in the history of the human experience has had such high barriers to entry as the cinema. Perhaps, only now, with the capabilities to create a movie available to almost anyone who wants to, has filmmaking as an art form reached maturity. Events like the Vimeo Awards + Festival and YouTube Play aren’t inflection points in the art form’s evolution, so much as indicators that the evolution is happening.
The professionalism of filmmaking may or may not (or may never be) destroyed, but the art of filmmaking is just coming into its own. Last Saturday night, at a packed ceremony hosted by Ze Frank at the SVA Theatre in Manhattan, these following artists took home Vimeo awards and honors:
- Narrative: “Thrush” by Gabriel Bisset-Smith
- Documentary: “Last Minutes with ODEN” by Phos Pictures
- Music Video: “Liars ‘Scissor’” by Andy Bruntel
- Animation: “Between Bears” by Eran Hilleli
- Original Series: “Break-ups The Series” by Ted Tremper
- Experimental: “oops” by Chris Beckman
- Motion Graphics: “TRIANGLE” by Onur Senturk
- Captured: “Fluid Sculpture” by Charlie Bucket
- Remix: “BREAKDOWN the video” by Kasumi
- Best Video: “Last Minutes with ODEN” by Phos Pictures
- Feature Presentation: “Star Wars Uncut“
Take a break from your previously scheduled Columbus Day activities and give them a watch. And if you need an excuse to check out an hour or so’s worth of video on your computer, consider it a newfangled, cultural experience, and that you’re making a positive contribution to the arts.