Oct 13 – 14 set the stage for the little known Georgia Big Picture Film & Video Conference (GABPC) on the campus of Westwood College in Atlanta. Little known because the last conference was in 2009. However, with the attention and detail brought on by The Big Picture Film & Video Foundation, this is about to change.
The brainchild of Nancy Howard, the two day event drew a healthy crowd without being overwhelming in size. The primary focus on this conference was about the visual media, specifically film, television and technology, meaning the average consumer was not necessarily involved though the end game is this target audience.
Why this conference
Accordingly, the sound bite about the GABPC reads, “… an exciting film and technology conference targeting professional filmmakers, animators, editors, actors, writers, sound techs, game techs, and digital media professionals.”
“It’s produced by the Big Picture Film & Video Foundation, a non-profit 501(c)(3) charitable organization established to support, utilize and retain film industry professional, students and newcomers in the areas of film and the visual arts. The mission and purpose of the BigPictureCon is to provide an environment where industry professionals and students who are seeking opportunities in the visual media industry can participate in a unique education, exhibition and networking experience with other industry professionals and peers. We want to contribute to Georgia's burgeoning film and Video/TV production industry by making it possible to utilize and retain students in the many college and university communications and production programs within Georgia State.”
In plain-speak, this is a conference about change, and what changes the industry brings and is bringing to the world. It was a well-rounded event that included many workshops and panels, a short film festival and the involvement of industry professionals and speakers.
“Students are also able to compete for funds to complete their independent productions. Donations made to the Big Picture Foundation are tax deductible.
The Big Picture Film & Video Foundation also hosts workshops throughout the year for participants in the state of Georgia.”
Two day event
The conference opened with a couple keynote speakers. Corey Edwards, creator and director of the movie “Hoodwinked” among other projects, and Paul Jenkins, writer and editor for Marvel Comic Books. With these two talents on hand to give inspiration to the audience, the conference was off to a great start. Not knowing what was in store throughout the day, I tried to keep up with the activities. With 21-workshops and panels, it was going to be a daunting task.
What was really beneficial to the attendees was how the conference was formatted. There were three separate modules comprised of Business, Technology and Master Tracks, meaning the specific workshop or panel was about that particular subject.
In the Business Track, subjects covered ranged from “Producer’s Panel: What A Producer Does,” “Latest Trends in Digital Entertainment Marketing and Distribution,” “Meet the Pros: Speed Networking,” and “Using Social Media to Build a Brand for Your Project.” The Technology Track included “Editing Lab: Final Cut Pro Tips, Tricks & Best Practices,” Show Me The Money: Where the Technology Jobs are in the Entertainment Business,” "Digital Content Creation for Mobile Devices and Web,” and "Building Your Brand Online Using YouTube and Other Streaming Sites.” The Master Track featured “Director’s Roundtable,” “ABC’s of Producing Successfully Across Multiple Platforms,” “Producer’s Workshop,” and "DSLR Photography Techniques for Filmmakers” which actually was a favorite of mine.
Some of the workshops were hands-on, and the attendees got to play with and inspect the newer technology. Most times there’s no real outlet to explore one’s craft, but this was the lace to do it. Each of these workshops and panels featured working industry professionals. It’s refreshing that these people would take the time to come and share their knowledge, wisdom and stories with up-and-coming and already working attendees.
Throughout the day, there would be raffles featuring industry and GABPC merchandise. One of these prizes included the 2013 Georgia Film Television Source Book, an invaluable tool better known as the industry bible.
A short short film festival
The close of day one was a short film festival featuring the culmination of a series of panel-judged movies. They ranged from dramas, commentaries, animation, comedies and documentaries, so the audience had a varied experience. All were well received by the audience responses. The overall winner was Nicole Powell for “Free Art 4U” in the documentary category.
“One of Atlanta’s hidden treasures can be found through the Free Art community. Four artists share the process of creation that connects the local community of Atlanta.”
The judges for the festival were Clementine Leger (Programming Coordinator/Florida Film Festival), Christina Humphrey (Programmer/Atlanta Film Festival) and David Conley (Writer, Director, CEO/Munirah Entertainment).
As with most events of this type, some speakers weren’t available but the substitutes were just as knowledgeable. By topic, the speakers were knowledgeable ue to practicing their craft on a daily basis and making this contribution was an experience enjoyed by all. There’s truth behind the adage that if you do what you love, you’ll never have to work. However, the business of film and technology was never dismissed as trivial but as a serious entity known as business. With this in mind, there was emphasis on making sure you dot your T’s and I’s. Always remember, the entertainment business is always about business first, entertainment last.
A change is going to come
Considering the status of the Big Picture Film & Video Foundation as a non-profit organization, funding is critical for any future conferences. However, they did promise to pull it together for 2014. I experienced the determination first hand from professionals such as Sue-Ellen, Victoria and Allen. They were just a few of the many volunteers who have given their time to make this event a success. Also, I need to add the fact that the attendees were not mainly students, but a lot of professionals in their own field who have accomplished a certain level in their career and want to go to the next level, or they are seeking to share their experiences in order to bring others to a next level of achievement. By far, this was the most inspiring, educational and knowledgeable industry conference I’ve attended this year.
Stay tuned for the next Big Picture Con in 2014. In the meantime, get involved with the organization that sponsors this conference so you’ll be on the ground floor. There are workshops that are hosted in order to further your career and keep you aware of the technology and changes in your industry.