Programs Fri 11.7.2014

Filmmakers and Techies Cook Up Innovative Ideas at the Forum Hackathon

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Filmmakers and developers are both creative people, but they speak different languages. What happens when you put both minds in the same room over the weekend in a film tech hackathon? Creative combustion, collaboration, and some truly awesome project ideas—new ways to discover stories, connect with collaborators and fans and experience the world. Film Independent teamed up with CreatorUp at the recent Film Independent Forum and we issued a challenge to four teams of creative minds: invent an app that will help filmmakers connect directly with their audience and that could have the potential to change the world. All four teams had at least one filmmaker and at least one “techie.” They had 48 hours to create something, and presented their results to an audience at the Forum. The creators of the most innovative project with the greatest potential for social impact was declared the winner (and received Los Angeles Film Festival passes as their prize.)

Here’s what they cooked up:

Movie Beacon
Movie Beacon was inspired by filmmaker Justin Chalen Chenn’s own experience of being inspired by a film to turn his life around. The app is a search tool that helps users find movies pertaining to the issues they are going through (anything from drug addiction, self mutilation, gang violence, troubled youth, broken homes, alcoholism, depression and more.) Chenn teamed up with Sharif Matar and Caryn Drake to deliver Movie Beacon, which won the hackathon. “I actually wanted to quit after day one because of a few circumstances. But because of Mike’s enthusiasm for the project, I had a long chat with Caryn, which helped me narrow my vision, and then the excitement of working with the ultra-talented Sharif, I didn’t chicken the hell out, and Movie Beacon was able to come to life.”

Vision.ed is an interactive documentary and immersive experience into how modified sight—viewed through impairments or enhanced with advanced technology—alters our perceptions of the world around us. Structured around an ongoing documentary narrative with a vast cast of characters who literally see the world differently, Vision.ed lets the user select an impairment (e.g. myopia) and then the scene on his computer screen appears as it would to a person with that impairment (blurry, for instance). The project was conceived by Brittney Shepherd, and her team Emily McCallister, Terry Lawyer and Anita Cheng. Said McCallister: “This was unlike any hackathon experience I’ve had before, particularly because the other participants were so talented and diverse. Our team quickly went from complete strangers to dedicated and inspiring collaborators. What could have been a just-make-it-work stressful sprint to build something functional instead became a creative retreat.”

Mixolydian is a social application that uses the algorithms of dating websites and re-purposes them to generate professional real-life matches and encounters between artists in all fields of the film industry. The app was concocted by Erick Castrillon, and the prototype was brought to life by Hugh Hou and McKenna Stephens. Said Castrillon, “The Film Independent hackathon has given me a taste of how valuable and how achievable web-based ideas are. I’m so glad to have participated in this event. My teammates, McKenna and Hugh, were amazingly talented, warm people who understood the quirky, funny and sophisticated sensibility I was trying to achieve with Mixolydian from the get go.”

Partners in the Process
Catherine Clinch imagined Partners in the Process, a gathering place for filmmakers, fans and people who are either actively involved (or seriously interested in becoming involved) with a social issue. This site would enable filmmakers to connect with those who care about the subject matter of their project in a way that enables relationships to form around social discourse, community service opportunities and other activities. Catherine was joined by George Reyes and Iliana Sosa who helped put together the project. Reyes said, “Previously, I’ve been intimidated by coding/web design, etc. I believe in confronting your fears 🙂 and that is why I wanted to participate in this hackathon and I’m glad I did. There is a whole world of possibility in this realm and I feel that I only scratched the surface of possibilities this weekend.”

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Mike Tringe / Co-founder CreatorUp