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So, You Want to Be a Filmmaker?

Scott Dwyer, who produces KQED's ImageMakers and Film School Shorts, discusses what it takes to be a filmmaker. Read his advice at KQED Arts.

ImageMakers Top Ten Films

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    About ImageMakers

    Short Films ... Big Ideas ...
    Watch the Filmmakers of Tomorrow, Today on ImageMakers

    Scott Dwyer

    Since 2001, KQED's weekly series ImageMakers has been showcasing short films by the moviemakers of tomorrow. Each episode allows viewers to see for the first time short narrative works by emerging filmmakers who could become the next Quentin Tarantino, Martin Scorsese or Francis Ford Coppola. The films represent a wide array of genres, including some of the most creative comedies, cutting-edge animations, intense thrillers and gripping dramas produced by independent filmmakers today. Many of the filmmakers have gone on to make feature films including Jason Reitman (Thank You for Smoking, Juno, and Up in the Air), Cary Fukunaga (Sin Nombre and Jane Eyre), and Neill Blomkamp (District 9).

    Short films get little exposure outside of film festivals. ImageMakers provides a rare venue (and for many, the television premiere) for these award-winning films. In eleven years, ImageMakers has showcased an amazing 369 films from 33 countries. The 2013 season features 34 films from 12 countries.

    "I'm looking for films with a strong visual style, tight script and high production values," says series producer and KQED Public Television program director Scott Dwyer. "Twilight Zone was one of my favorite television series. The creative and concise way it told a story and its impact is something I try to replicate with ImageMakers. My goal is to inspire future filmmakers and provide viewers with films that will leave a long-lasting impression."

    Scott Dwyer (third from left) and jury members at Aspen Shortsfest 2011

    Most filmmakers use shorts as a calling card to make feature films. Often operating under tight time constraints and lacking the big budgets of features, these emerging filmmakers have to be creative in the way they tell their stories. Short films aren't expected to make any money, so filmmakers can express their own vision without trying to please a wide audience. They are not afraid to break the rules and conventions of storytelling. This can result in innovative, powerful and memorable films.

    Shorts have always played an important role in film history. In fact, the first movies ever made were short films. Shorts have evolved from those shown in the nickelodeons at the turn of the century to Saturday afternoon serials and cartoons to today's music videos. Shorts remain a vital art form that provides filmmakers with a creative outlet for refreshingly original ideas. And new digital technology (cameras, special effects tools, and editing systems) makes it less costly for people to make great-looking films that rival the quality of Hollywood features.

    Mr. Dwyer attends the top short film festivals in North America and Europe, including Aspen, Clermont-Ferrand (France), Palm Springs, and Toronto. In addition, he is in contact with numerous other festivals and film schools around the world. He watches an eye-popping 2,000 shorts each year.

    Three film fanatics -- from L to R: George Eldred (Aspen Shortfest), Scott Dwyer, Roger Gonin (Clermont Ferrand Short Film Festival)

    The series' Web site offers detailed descriptions of each episode, links to the filmmakers' Web sites and opportunities to view some of the films again online. Most important, the ImageMakers site allows viewers to leave feedback about the series and to vote for their favorite films. "This enables me," Dwyer emphasizes, "to know which films resonate with KQED's audiences and which types of films I need to be on the lookout for the next season. Some of the films definitely push the envelope. I don't expect people to like each film, but they really appreciate what KQED is trying to do with this series. They say there is nothing else like it on television."

    In addition to ImageMakers, KQED is now producing a national public television series called Film School Shorts that features the best short films coming out of American film schools. Be sure to check it out as well.


    Series Producer
    Scott Dwyer

    Peter Borg

    Zaldy Serrano

    Interactive Producer
    Marie K Lee

    Web Systems Developers
    Kip Gebhardt

    On Air Promotion
    Bridget Louie

    DeLinda Mrwoka
    Evren Odcikin

    Eric Shackelford
    Helen Silvani

    Dave Freeman
    Daniel Mansergh

    Theme Music


    ImageMakers has been made possible by the members of KQED.

    ImageMakers is a production of KQED.

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