Now in its 11th year running, STIFF rebranded itself as the Seattle Transmedia & Independent Film Festival this year. Formerly known as the Seattle True Independent Film Festival, STIFF has refocused itself to better accommodate the trends that the festival’s organizers have seen among filmmakers and content creators. According to an August 4 press release, the festival will now include alternate and emerging forms of storytelling that often lack a forum for display.
“We are always questioning our relevance as a film festival,” said Tim Vernor, Executive Director of STIFF. “How can we serve the community of independent filmmakers and bring engaging content to our audience? We see transmedia as the best way for independent filmmakers to become and remain relevant.”
Filmmakers and content creators can submit works to 18 categories, including conventional formats (short, feature, documentary, animation), the unusual (fan fiction, experimental), or new formats (emerging technology, new media, video game). All submitting filmmakers and artists will receive a festival pass, regardless of whether or not their work is selected.
Vernor said they decided to keep “film” in the name because they wanted the local film community to feel comfortable and to know they will still be a big part of the festival.
“We are getting great feedback from filmmakers already working in or planning on incorporating transmedia into their projects but the communities that are working in experimental film, web series, new media and emerging technologies have been the most supportive,” Vernor said.
According to their press release, STIFF will feature sit-down cinema presentations of features, documentaries, and shorts packages, as well as transmedia projects in gallery space, at interactive play centers and during festival parties and networking events.
When asked about what sorts of submissions they’re seeing, Vernor said, “we’re seeing some great performance-based art that incorporates video and music in a very unique way that we would like to highlight this year.”
He also said they’ve found a great documentary film created for the oculus rift, a virtual reality headset for 3D gaming, that they plan to bring to Seattle for the festival. This YouTube video explains more about that project.
“Transmedia is the kind of thing that you can go from not understanding what it means to seeing it all around you as soon as you open your eyes to it,” Vernor said.
Vernor said the festival’s organizers thought about making this switch for about a year before they actually committed to it. They had noticed that many filmmakers felt constrained by the short film/feature film format. They’d also noticed filmmakers using transmedia platforms to engage their audiences for fundraising and to create demand before creating feature films.
Vernor had a few words of advise for filmmakers looking to submit, “make sure your story is the highlight of your film,” he said. “High production value and great performances are very relevant, but if your story is not solid your film will suffer. Don’t just show your script to friends, find someone that can be critical and be open about making changes.”
He also encouraged local content creators to feel empowered to reach out to STIFF staff. “Introduce yourself at the monthly FMI Happy Hour (one of us is always there), invite us to your cast and crew screening, attend our free monthly screenings at Lucid Lounge, follow us on Twitter. We also need more screeners and you can make a difference by watching the submitted films and giving us your honest opinion to help us make selections for the festival.”
The 2015 Seattle Transmedia & Independent Film Festival will take place from May 1 – 9 in Seattle’s University District.
For further information or to submit a film, webisode, app, or multi-platform interactive narrative to STIFF 2015, visit http://trueindependent.org/stiff/submit/.