July 1, 2015 by Todd Lillethun
Directors Amanda Speva and Mark Pallman are in production on a documentary about miniatures, and the artisans and craftspeople who create them. Currently titled THINK SMALL, the film’s current stories and threads are sending them across the country to see where their subject takes them. “We love the craft, and are moved by these people who recapture a moment in time,” says Speva. “It’s also interesting to see the common threads that draws people to these smaller worlds where they can experience a sense of control and escape the chaos in their lives.” Their research has lead them to The Tiny Dollhouse in New York City, the Thorne Room at the Art Institute of Chicago, and eventually the National Miniature Convention at the end of July. Both Speva and Pallman work at Optimus, and are receiving post-production support from their editorial team. They anticipate finishing a trailer by the end of the month.
Chicago Digital Media Production Fund
Now in its fourth year, the Chicago Digital Media Production Fund (CDMPF) has awarded eight Chicago-area filmmakers with grants ranging from $3,500 to $19,000. A project of Voqual Fund and administered by Chicago Filmmakers, CDMPF received 137 applications, the most ever in one grant cycle, perhaps due to the increase in funding from a ceiling of $10,000 to $20,000 per project. “Awardees ranged from established local filmmakers to several emerging artists in their early twenties,” says Sarah Rubin, who administered the grant at Chicago Filmmakers. “There was also an increase in web series proposals this year over years past, which fits the grant terms well since web distribution is required.” She noted fewer feature documentary proposals, as well as fewer proposals for games or apps, though interactive websites were often offered as supplemental material. This year’s jury included Steve Ranke, Julie Keck, Chi Jang Yin, Ignatiy Vishnevetsky, Erin Nixon, Rebecca Lavoie, Alex Inglizian, and Scott Foley. All winning projects need to be completed and available for online viewing by May 15, 2016. Last year’s winners will be screened at Chicago Filmmakers on Saturday, July 18. You can see a list of this year’s awardees here:
Keep Moving Forward
Director Brent Bandemer and producer Emily Strong have launched a Kickstarter campaign for KEEP MOVING FORWARD, a short documentary about Guy Spagnoli, a local Vietnam veteran, who copes with PTSD through Disney films instead of medication. Bandemer met Spagnoli when they were both students in the film program at Columbia College; Spagnoli was studying cinematography at the time, and participated in an interview where he recounted harrowing moments from his time in Vietnam. In the fall of 2014, Bandemer met Emily Strong when they were both interns at Kartemquin, and they followed up with Spagnoli to create another short doc about his PTSD for the Kartemquin intern showcase. Only recently has Bandemer discovered Spagnoli’s interest in Disney. Spagnoli worked at Disney stores and theme parks 11 times since retiring from active duty, and his home is decorated with an extensive collection of Disney memorabilia. The filmmakers are looking to explore the connection further through interviews with family members and Spagnoli’s home movie footage. If the Kickstarter campaign is successful, Bandemer and Strong are hoping to premiere the film for an audience of Chicago vets on Veteran’s Day (November 11). You can see Spagnoli’s original 2013 interview and find out more information about the film here:
Todd Lillethun is a freelance producer and editor at Flicker Effects and student advisor at Northwestern University's MFA program for Documentary Media.