EFS Spotlight - Q&A

Q&A – Sean Sisson, Filmmaker

Q&A – Sean Sisson, Filmmaker

Sidney Moore

February 29th, 2016

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Sean Sisson is a Florence-based filmmaker who won the “Audience Award” at last year’s EFS 72 Hour Horror Film Competition with his short film, Glorious. Last month, he launched a successful Kickstarter campaign to fund his award-­winning film into the pilot episode of an ongoing series he hopes to eventually adapt into a feature length film. Sisson spoke with Eugene Film Society’s blogger, Sidney Moore, about filmmaking and funding in Oregon.

EFS: What are some of the advantages of using crowdfunding as opposed to traditional methods of funding?

Sisson: You get to hold all creative control, as well as retain ownership of all of the material. Crowdfunding is not the only way to gain funding in Oregon. We also used private investments from private backers, as well as taking advantage of individual artist grants that are provided at both the city and county level. If you want to use grants, my advice would be to go as locally as possible. Lane County has individual artist grants for filmmakers.                       

EFS: You’re making Glorious ​into a pilot episode, rather than a feature film. Do you think there are more opportunities in television than film?

Sisson: The decision to make Glorious into a pilot episode was based on advice that I received from fellow filmmakers. The ultimate plan for Glorious is to make it into a feature, eventually, but that, of course, requires more funding than what we currently have. For now, the plan is to develop a series of vignettes that could later serve as a basis for a feature. The series will also serve as a platform for a feature, to get people excited about it and build momentum for the final project. Right now, people really gravitate towards 25 ­minute episodes. Another reason I decided to go with a pilot is because it would present a new challenge to me and allow me to challenge myself as a filmmaker.

EFS: Are you attempting to explore different styles of filmmaking then?

Sisson: As of right now, my mission is to put myself through the wringer and explore different areas of filmmaking.I am exploring different voices in order to make myself the best filmmaker I can be. One of the ways I’ve been able to do that with Glorious is that the actors in front of the camera are constantly changing, which presents a unique benefit as a writer.              

EFS: What are some things you’ve learned working in Oregon with somewhat limited funding?

Sisson: I’ve always tried to create something that makes people want to jump on board. A lot of the time, people are working for free due to lack of funding, I only feel comfortable asking certain people to help out, mostly people who want to be in independent films for the sake of being a part of filmmaking.                 

EFS: Is there a strong connection and collaboration between independent filmmakers in Oregon?

Sisson: There is definitely a willingness to help each other out. There are cliques of people who will only work with each other because those same people have worked on multiple projects together. In places like Florence, where I’m filming now, we often have to pull in crew from Portland because there aren’t enough people in the Oregon film industry. When you have to get people to volunteer, there is a very small window in which you have to get people to support your project.        

EFS: How do events such as the EFS 72­ Hour Horror Film Competition help you as an independent filmmaker?       

Sisson: It gave me the ability to legitimize the project, as well as give fans and other potential backers something to hold on to. Once a project is out there, it obviously increases viewership. My first Kickstarter projector was unsuccessful, but the success of winning the “Audience Award” at the 72 Hour Horror Film Competition not only increased the project’s awareness, but it also caused people to take the project more seriously, which allowed us to get more funding.

                       

To learn more about crowdfunding film projects with Kickstarter, join Sean and other filmmakers at The Big Mix v2 on Saturday, March 12 at the Hult Center for the Performing Arts. Tickets can be purchased at the Hult Center box office or online on the Hult Center website.

There is an open call for locally produced short films completed after January 1, 2015 and under 15 minutes in length. If you would like to have your film considered for inclusion in the screening program, visit eugenefilmsociety.com.

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