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Vimeo Festival + Awards 2011

The video-sharing website launches its second filmmaking competition

Yesterday, in New York, saw the launch of the second Vimeo Festival + Awards, which celebrates the most creative and original videos online as well as those who make them. Fantastic prizes are being offered such as grants of $5,000 being awarded to winners, as well as a Grand Prize of $25,000 going to one talented filmmaker. From the success of last year’s festival, organisers are keen to continue recognising the fresh new talent appearing via online video. The director of the project, Jeremy Boxer, said this about the Awards; “We have watched online video explode into a primary medium for new talent discover. More and more creators earn visibility, credibility and ultimately, work by showcasing their videos online. We created the Vimeo Festival + Awards to celebrate the best of the best of these videos”.

So much so that Vimeo has added four new categories submissions can be judged under including; Fashion, Action Sports, Advertising and Lyrical, taking it to 13 categories in total. Open through until 20 February 2012, entrants can submit any original work that's premiered anywhere online between 31 July 2010 and the closing date or any original work that has never been premiered before. This is a brilliant opportunity so if you fancy yourself as an undiscovered filmmaker then get shooting now. We spoke to last year's winner of the Narrative Category, Gabriel Bisset-Smith - who won with his film 'Thrush' - to see what he's been up to since he was given the award...

Dazed Digital: What did it feel like winning the Narrative category at the Vimeo Awards last year? How have things changed for you since?
Gabriel Bisset-Smith: 
It was amazing. I couldn’t make it to the ceremony but some friends of mine from New York went. I was at a party in London when they texted me the news and didn’t believe them at all. It wasn’t till the next day that I realised they weren’t joking. Since winning, over three hundred thousand people have watched the film on Vimeo and it has also made thousands watch my other films. I also won the Grand Jury Prize at the disposable film festival, directed a couple of music videos and receive weekly requests from film festivals around the world to screen my work.

DD: Your winning film tells the story of an entire relationship through photographs, what was appealing about this kind of approach to filmmaking? Do you think it helped you stand out?
Gabriel Bisset-Smith: 
My friend and co-director on this piece Graham Turner is an amazing photographer and he made this film of one of our nights out using only photographs and that’s what gave me the initial idea. We couldn’t afford great filming equipment but he was a great stills photographer with a great stills camera so I just started from there. I was going through a pretty bad break-up at the time and doing a fair amount of Facebook stalking so the story wrote itself.

DD: Do you think it’s important for filmmakers to share their work online, even when it’s with people you don’t necessarily know?
Gabriel Bisset-Smith: 
For me the whole point of making a short film is sharing it online. I initially tried the film festival route but realised that the audience you get online is instant and real. Now when I make a new short I don’t really send it to festivals at all but spend my time getting it to an online audience. And surely the point of making any kind of 'art' is to get it to an audience who don’t know you and can come to your work unbiased.

DD: What advice do you have for anyone wanting to enter the Vimeo Festival + Awards this year?
Gabriel Bisset-Smith: 
If you’re entering the Narrative category then remember that story really is everything. I know this is obvious but I didn’t realise how little high production values and budget matter until I won. 'Thrush' was made for literally nothing and with a crew of two.

DD: What projects are you working on now?
Gabriel Bisset-Smith: 
I currently have a couple feature films in development. I’m writing and directing a new play. I’m part of a comedy double act called 'Guilt and Shame' and we’re rehearsing our new show for next year’s Edinburgh festival. I’m also about to direct a short written by a new writer named Stuart Curran who won a completion I hosted on a website called 'Circalit' in which he had to write a film in response to 'Thrush'. It will be my first time directing someone else’s work which is quite nerve racking but exciting.

For more details about entering and for a full list of all the video categories click HERE