While editing Saying Goodbye, we sought the insight of many people, one of which was the fabulous Roberta Munroe. After talking with her and reading her book How NOT To Make A Short Film: Secrets from a Sundance Programmer, we kept thinking how much easier things would have been if we'd known some of her pearls of wisdom BEFORE we filmed the movie. With that in mind, we suggested to the SC Film Commission that they bring Roberta in for one of their workshops. And fortunately for the aspiring filmmakers of South Carolina, they did!
On Saturday, Roberta came to Charleston to present a crash course on making short films. She started off the morning stressing the importance of a strong story and returned to that key point many times during the workshop. She also showed us three short films that are among her favorites to give us a feel for the tight, layered storytelling needed in shorts: Taika Waititi’s Academy award nominated Two Cars, One Night; Joshua Leonard’s heartbreaking The Youth in Us; and Trevor Anderson’s quirky documentary The High Level Bridge. Throughout the rest of the day, Roberta gave tips about the various stages of production, and then wrapped it up in the afternoon with advice about film festivals and distribution. It’s hard to believe she covered so much in one day, and our heads were close to bursting with information overload.
Then on Sunday, we were privileged to be included when five of the current SC Indie Grant projects screened their rough cuts for Roberta to get her feedback. It was fun to see the variety offered by these grant projects from comedy to drama to surreal fantasy to two documentaries about completely different aspects of life in South Carolina. Roberta’s advice to these filmmakers on how they can improve their projects was enlightening, and it will echo in our brains when we make our next film.
As informative as her workshop and the screenings were, the highlight of the weekend was having dinner and drinks with Roberta on Saturday night. She’s warm and witty and so enthusiastic that it’s no surprise she’s had so much success. Getting the chance to know her better and hear some of her war stories made it a weekend we will never forget. Hopefully we’ll cross paths with her again soon on the film festival circuit.