Entertainment Spotlight, Meet Filmmaker Philip Swift

When did you know you wanted to be a film maker?
When I was 13 years old I stayed home sick from school although I wasn’t really that sick. There was a video store that was a couple of blocks from my home and I walked down and after perusing the stock I came home with Singin’ in the Rain and Barton Fink. The VCR at that time was only in my mom’s room, connected to her tiny 13″ TV, so I pulled a chair up really close and watched the two back to back. And that was it. I could ramble on about those two films, their strange overlapping connections and fantastical styles, but that would go on for days. When I was younger I had wanted to be a Disney animator and then a Marvel comics illustrator, but I was never good at even basic drawing, so those two films pushed me to realize that film was the medium for me.
What have you noticed about digital film making over the years?
I like to think that I’m of this fortunate generation that was born before the proliferation of digital technology into our daily lives. I was born in ’79 and was there for the birth of in-home video game consoles, VHS tapes, and even had the joy of shooting and cutting 8mm film. Having that starting point and then being able to age with the technology is kind of a blessing I think, I’m able to truly appreciate the old analog days, but have been keeping up with all the changes that digital technology has brought about. When I started taking proper film classes in my 20s we, we shot on 8mm and cut the film itself, and then my last class I had in 2006 was called “Intro to High Definition” where the teacher started the class with us all just reading the manual out loud because none of us, not even him, knew what we were doing.  
All that said, I think the biggest thing that we’re seeing with the rise of digital filmmaking is that it greatly increases the amount of middle-class filmmaking we’re seeing. By this I mean that the quality of work you can do these days with just a little bit of money is truly impressive. The problem with that though is it makes everyone think they’re good at what they do because they can upload a 4K video to YouTube. It’s creating a larger pool for everyone to dive into, but the majority of people are just peeing in it.  
What do you want visitors and locals to know about the film making community that they may not already know?
In connection to my last statement about digital filmmaking, I think it’s important that people understand that it is possible to make great stuff, but that the definition of “great” has become endlessly adaptable thanks to the digital platform they have for their work. YouTube is filled with people that I don’t think have any real talent, but they understand how a camera works, they have basic editing skills, and they have the dedication it takes to create constant content.  
There’s many ways for filmmakers to go in the digital world. You can go the route I’m going, creating crowdsourced independent feature films that can live on VoD sites like Amazon or Vimeo and you can actually make a buck or two, or you can sit in front of your webcam and talk about manga everyday and create a following. Whatever you do, just do it well.
What social media do you use (here’s your spot to promote)? 
I’m on Facebook, like everyone else, along with my pages for my last two documentaries The Bubble and The Dark Side of Disney. Both films both have websites, and currently you can get tickets for upcoming screenings of The Dark Side of Disney at its website dsoddoc.com 
The Bubble – A Documentary Film About Celebration, Florida is at thebubbledocumentary.com
I’m also on Twitter @philipbswift and on Instagram as pvreese
What is it like being able to teach at Tribeca Film Institute?
It’s great. Having grown up hating school and making movies with my friends all the time, it’s great to be able to go into public schools and integrate the art of filmmaking into students lives. They honestly teach me as much as I teach them.
Describe the film making community in 5 words or less
Supportive if you’re nice.


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