What inspired you to start up this series?
Well, Hammer to Nail is always looking for ways to get the films we like in front of audiences who may not know about them. We previously put together a screening series in 2009 with our friends at the Chinatown videostore Cinema Nolita, where we had a number of awesome screenings and guests, but that series died after the store went out of business following some frantic efforts to keep it afloat. But it's something we've always liked to do, and when I was approached by the people at Brooklyn Fire Proof it just seemed to make sense to give it another go. There are just no shortage of fascinating American indies, many of which don't have significant New York platforms beyond the burgeoning micro cinemas. And last year we started a short film contest on our site, so it seemed like a way to showcase some work we'd already been championing as well.
How much indie festival-stuff worth seeing ends up going unseen outside of festivals?
I'd would imagine its a damn near a majority. Certainly their is no shortage of theatrically released content—800 theatrical releases in New York City last year alone. Still, that's only a fraction of the movies that are making the rounds on the festival circuit at any given time. Now, while many of those are not so good—both films that are released and films that aren't—plenty go overlooked, and there just isn't a distribution apparatus in place to support all those. Even if audiences know where to find them, they aren't necessarily going to know what to see, as there are just so many options, so we wanted to provide a platform to showcase some stuff that you may have missed, or that hasn't come out yet but you'll be able to see soon, but we have a special place in our heart for the wild visions, the unreleasable films, ones that won't ever come out. You'll be able to see a few of those in this series as well.
How many festivals do you go to every year?
About 15 or so. I probably cover seven or eight every year where I see a tremendous amount of work, the usual suspects if you will, but I usually end up at a whole host of emerging, regional and niche fests each year as well.
What do you think of the indie-film scene in Brooklyn and New York right now?
For exhibition, it's a golden age. There are just so many options. What's happened in North Brooklyn is amazing. A few years ago there were no cinema's and now there are probably a half dozen places with regular programming and at least four with nightly programming, many of it devoted to indies, repertory work, and, with Light Industry, experimental work. So that's really healthy. And BAM has obviously long been a stalwart of the scene. It's of course tougher than ever to actually live in Brooklyn, with rising rents and the costs of food and transportation and so on, which means its tougher to make meaningful work here, but that's a diatribe for another day. Or perhaps for the pages of n+1. People still manage to do it. It's cheaper than ever to shoot high-quality video. So there's that. That said, I hadn't seen a really great Brooklyn-set indie in a while until I saw Eliza Hittman's It Felt Like Love in Rotterdam last week.
Why Fire Proof?
It's a terrific space, the gallery and bar where the screenings will be held. There's obviously a lot of film related activity already going on there, they have one of the busiest set of soundstages in Brooklyn and they were very enthusiastic about starting something like this, both for people who do business with them, people who already attend other events in their space, and the neighborhood in general. So it just seemed to be a good fit.
Follow Henry Stewart on Twitter @henrycstewart