The Organizers of X-FEST Talk About Their Upcoming Sci-Fi Film Festival

Earlier this week, we got the chance to speak with two of the founders of Video Mass, a collective of filmmakers based in the Brooklyn, New York area. Tessa Greenberg and Grier Dill are two among their organization who are throwing X-Fest, their 9th festival presentation. The filmmakers are invited by Video Mass to participate and create a short for the festival. They are given the festival’s genre and eight weeks to craft their short film, which pushes the artists into some truly creative spaces.This year’s premiere screening will be at the Williamsburg Cinemas in Brooklyn NY, as well as May 14th and 15th, at different locations. (Look below for more details.) However, following the final screening, the complete 90 minute presentation will be available online on Video Mass for free. So we encourage you to check out X-Fest, even if you are unable to make it to any of the New York screenings.So tell us a little about X-Fest and your organization Video MassGrier Dill: X-Fest is our latest film festival, it’s a collective of filmmakers (mostly) in Brooklyn and we set a genre or theme, this one’s speculative fiction. They’ll get prompts to inspire them, a time limit, and eight weeks to shoot, write, edit, put together post-production, effects, and produce their short…It’s 15 films. It’s not a traditional film festival where we take 15,000 film submissions and choose the ten best. What we are doing is kind of on an invite basis. Where we are reaching out to filmmakers. So it’s kind of different. We are helping support and collaborate with them and each other. And it’s not like thousands trying to get into SXSW or Sundance or something. We [Video Mass] want to help filmmakers, we are filmmakers ourselves. So we try to make it as collaborative and supportive as possible.Tessa Greenberg: Video Mass is a film collective created four years ago. There were about fifteen of us friends who were filmmakers, artists, actors, and writers, living in Brooklyn. It was coming up on Halloween and we thought it would be fun to make a bunch of short horror films for Halloween. We spent a month coming together, writing, shooting, editing, and then watching about five short films. It was a really fun way to make new work fast and dirty. We would have these creative prompts and give each other challenges. Like it has to be set in the woods. Or a hotel room. Combining guerrilla filmmaking (techniques) so a month later we had this new film. Cut to four years later, we kept meeting more and more people and have gotten bigger and bigger.This one is Speculative Fiction genre. But in the past we have done three horror short film festivals called Spooky Fest, we have had a 420 festival, we did the Love Fest, we have done a time-travel festival, they are all genre specific. And just to clarify. We do film-making festivals. So rather than curating the films, we curate the filmmakers and we don’t know what we are going to be watching at the premiere, until about ten days before the films are due. So that keeps things exciting.


So you just provide the filmmakers the general genre or theme and they surprise you?Dill: Pretty much. There is a couple of check-in processes to make sure they are working on their script or their concept fits within the given genre…The filmmakers are familiar with the previous Fests. So they get the spirit of it. It’s very fun. We are always striving for entertaining films. This isn’t an art school, experimental program. It’s very fun and entertaining and we are trying to embrace that in all of our films. And they surprise us every time. Every time we are blown away by the new films we get.


How did you settle on the “Speculative Fiction” theme for this year?Greenberg: We were talking about our favorite movies. A lot of us like movies by Michel Gondry, Spike Jonze, Charlie Kaufman. We began talking a lot about narrative sci-fi, alternate reality sci-fi, not necessarily intergalactic space stories, but kinda like this world of the “What If?” Kinda like the Twilight Zone. Those movies and shows are so interesting, “What is that called?” And we kept coming to “Speculative Fiction.” But the more we talked, the more we realized these stories had a commonality. So like in the movie Her, “what if you fell in love with your phone or Siri?” So we decided to peel away from the Hollywood style science-fiction and let’s do this more narrative version, where you don’t need a huge budget and a bunch of special effects. If you think about the movie Her, it’s just Joaquin Phoenix’s character lying in bed with an ear bud in. There is no real special effects going on. That was really inspiring to us. To be able to tell these really cool stories without spending a million dollars.


And the entire X-Fest presentation will be available online too?Greenberg: After the premiere on Wednesday, we will have two more screenings. Then Monday the 16th, we will have an online version for anyone to see, it’s completely free! You just provide your email, so we can let you know about future screenings and events. From there you can watch X-Fest from home. I recommend kicking back for 90 minutes like you would when watching Netflix. It’s a really great opportunity to see some new work from some independent filmmakers in New York City…from your home! Dill: Yeah, it’s going to be a feature film, 90 minute block. So pop some popcorn, invite some friends over, turn the lights down and watch it like a real movie!We are trying to expand our network and we are always looking for other filmmakers. So if anyone wants to participate in an upcoming Fest, or organize their own festival in their town, reach out to us at [email protected]. We are always interested in what people are doing and if they want to participate, just email us a little about yourself and links to your work! Official X-Fest Trailer:Synopsis:X FEST is the 9th film festival presentation from Brooklyn-based film collective, Video Mass (videomass.tv). Given eight weeks to write, produce, and edit, these risk-taking independent filmmakers explored the genre of speculative fiction. Inspired by the film styles of Spike Jonze and Michel Gondry, this anthology feature film explores the question of “What if?” and the unintended consequences that come with new, unexplored territory. This anthology-style film will feature 12 short films held together by a narrative through line starring Damian Young (Birdman, House of Cards, The Comeback). Things are about to get weird!


VIDEO MASS PRESENTS A SHORT FILM EXPERIENCE UNLIKE ANY OTHER
FOR MOVIEMAKERS AND MOVIEGOERS ALIKEX FEST: A SPECULATIVE FICTION FILM FEST

Time travel. Extra body parts. Shifting reality. Outer space. All of these elements combine to form X Fest, a speculative fiction film festival from the hyper-collaborative filmmaking collective Video Mass. Short sci-fi films from different filmmakers are fit into an overarching frame story starring Damian Young (Birdman, The Comeback, House of Cards). The result is a unified and wildly entertaining cinematic event happening May 11, 2016 at Williamsburg Cinemas at 8 p.m.

As the first invite-only, curated filmmaking festival from Video Mass, X Fest promises to be the collective’s best show yet. After choosing a theme and wildcard prompt related to sci-fi or speculative fiction, participants had two months to write, shoot and edit their final short films.

Following the premiere, X Fest will be available free for a limited time at www.videomass.tv.

Video Mass hosts several themed festivals each year, giving short films a unique, cohesive delivery platform for an immersive and multi-dimensional theatrical viewing experience. More information about Video Mass membership and upcoming projects is available at www.videomass.tv.About the Video Mass collective – Video Mass is a hyper-collaborative film collective committed to challenging its members, bending genres and creating films of the highest caliber while embracing tight deadlines and small budgets. Over the past three years, Video Mass members have produced and screened over 50 unique short films to sold out audiences. By running filmMAKING festivals, Video Mass supports the creation of brand new work around specific themes or genres, resulting in fantastic programs that are more cohesive than any other film festival. Through these fests, Video Mass supports filmmakers instead of pitting them against each other. Video Mass builds a community of creators that are free to learn, share, encourage and challenge each other.WORLD PREMIERE of X FEST + after party at Crown Vic, BK, NY$11 – http://bit.ly/1r4xb7kSat, May 14th – 9:30pmVideology, BK, NYEncore Screening + Q&A$5 – http://bit.ly/1U9dNlfSun, May 15th – 6:30pmSyndicated, BK, NYFinal Screening, Q&A + Filmmakers Wrap PartySo will you be attending any of the screenings? If not, check it out online! Tell us how it was on the comment boards!