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SPNN Artist Talks

April 8, 2020

SPNN feels it is important during this time to continue to create and connect with our community. For this reason, we are continuing to host our Artist Talk series online.

SPNN hosted an Artist Talk with Sergio Rapu at the end of March via Zoom. He talked about his experiences and what he learned working on productions in different environments prior to creating his recent film, Eating Up Easter.

Early in his career, when deciding on whether to work on a project, he looked at not only what he would get out of it monetarily, but what he would learn from the experience. From his days as a wedding videographer, he learned the importance of shooting for the edit, (how to shoot just what he needed) and to be efficient with his time. As a freelancer, he learned about dealing with clients, and as a production assistant, he learned about the importance of networking. “It’s a collaborative industry, it’s important to sit down and talk with people, this industry is all about relationships” Sergio said.

Sergio talked about the business of filmmaking: “For me and many others, filmmaking is definitely an art, but it needs to be a sustainable art, you at least need to be able to pay yourself at least something and to pay your crew for it to work out.” Foundation support, film festivals, Kickstarter, and finding distribution partners are key. Sergio talked about the difference between self-funding a piece and being contracted to create a piece. If you self-fund or are grant funded, you keep creative control. While if you are funded from a network they are the client, they have the final say and own the project.

 “It is important as a creator to have the interest of your ‘client’ in mind, while you are creating. The audience is the ultimate client. You need to be able to speak to them.” Sergio went on to say, “Ultimately, what is most successful is when you have honest emotional characters, no matter the show. If you have someone really engaging in your documentary so much so that your audience feels emotion towards that person… with that person, whenever that person wins or loses in their stories ,it is a success”.

Sergio’s film will be on PBS nationwide in May. If you missed Sergio Rapu’s talk but are interested in hearing it please contact us at lee.grande@spnn.org. Make sure to catch our Artist Talk with Kang Vang this Sunday (April 12) at 2PM. Kang is a filmmaker who has worked in the media arts for over 20 years as an artist, teacher, and community leader, focusing on issues that affect communities of color. Register for his talk here.

There is an old adage: If your film is well understood and technically sound, but people walk out of the theater not really caring about it, you have failed. But if it doesn’t look that great, it doesn’t sound that great, but people walk out of the theater laughing or crying you have succeeded. Don’t let your lack of access to more professional gear deter you from creating compelling media during this time. Use the devices you have available to continue to create. While SPNN may not physically be open, we are still here to give advice and feedback on your projects. Reach out to accessstaff@spnn.org for feedback and tech.help@spnn.org for technical assistance. When your project is done and you are ready to share it with the community reach out to us. Continue to be creative and let SPNN help you!

SPNN’s Artist Talks are made possible by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.