Written by: Jill Remensnyder
Zacuto Films is on a roll! We just received word that bts: a web series won a Silver Plaque for independent web series at the 2012 INTERCOM Competition. This news comes hot on the heels of Emmy nominations for Outstanding Achievement for Documentary Programming, as well as nominations for Outstanding Crafts Achievement: Director of Post-Production (Steve Weiss) and Outstanding Crafts Achievement: Editor (Daniel Skubal).
All About INTERCOM
INTERCOM (International Communications Media Competition) was founded in 1964 by Cinema/Chicago; the non-profit organization that presents the Chicago International Film Festival. The competition was designed specifically to recognize the achievements in corporate sponsored, educational, and branded films. With the influx of new media content now available online, it’s only appropriate that achievements in this rapidly evolving field be included.
Domestic and International entries vied for top spots in a various productions categories in four main areas of Corporate/Sponsored Productions, Educational, Special Achievement, and Interactive/Online Productions. Only the best projects in their category are awarded gold and silver plaques. Top honors are awarded Gold and Silver Hugos and are reserved for the best productions that use creativity and technology in communications.
Earlier this year bts won a Silver Award at the 33rd Annual Telly Awards and received a nomination from The National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences the previous year. Director Steve Weiss of Zacuto Films has been pleasantly surprised with the accolades the series has received. “When the Emmy nominations came out, I thought we were a shoe in with Revenge but it was 3 to 1 in favor of bts.” Revenge of the Great Camera Shootout released this summer and was produced at a much higher budget and was a massive endeavor, whereas bts was more of a passion project.
Director Steve Weiss of Zacuto Films says “When the Emmy nominations came out, I thought we were a shoe in with Revenge but it was 3 to 1 in favor of bts.”
You can find endless content online about how to make a doc, helpful tips, but nothing like bts makes it up close and personal. The series proves that documentary filmmaking is not for the faint of heart. The three-part series follows a documentary film crew on location in Rwanda as they make “Rising from the Ashes,” a film about Rwanda’s first national cycling team. This unique look into what it really goes into making a documentary film gives the viewer a unique perspective on the limits filmmakers are willing to push in order to get their shots and tell their stories.
bts was Born
A phone call from Rising from the Ashes producer Greg Kwedar sparked the idea behind bts. Kwedar was looking to use Zacuto rigs for the film. The conversation evolved into Kwedar supplying Zacuto with some behind the scenes footage, and from there developed into making an entire documentary about their struggles to film their final eighteen days in Rwanda.
In the opening episode, Hit the Ground Running, the crew is faced with the realities of shooting on location in Rwanda; uncooperative weather, the local population, and internal struggles that arise when crew members reach their breaking point.
In part two, Chasing The Light, the team races to capture the beauty of Rwanda and get their shots in the face of the odds stacked against them. The final installment, Crossing the Finish Line, brings dramatic closure on every level imaginable as the crew gambles to get close-up shots during the final race and pay respects to a fallen Rwandan race member.
It’s safe to say bts is reaching a larger audience than just documentary filmmakers. Zacuto’s original web series has an audience made up by everyone from film students, corporate, commercial, indie film and even the Hollywood film market. “I get emails from all sectors of the industry thanking us for our contribution to education and information in an entertaining format and that makes me feel great as a filmmaker.”
Even though bts has been a hit, don’t expect to see another bts series soon. Weiss is exploring other ideas for programming that will explore the future of distribution and whether or not the Hollywood model is still the ideal for the new crop of indie filmmakers currently producing films. Weiss also plans to direct original narrative programming outside of Zacuto testing various monetization theories he’s talked about in many of his past web series.
Regardless of which series comes out next, you can be sure Zacuto will exceed expectations and raise the bar. Stay tuned for more original programming!