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Darth Vader came to speak to the rebels. That was the metaphor Greg Silverman, Warner Bros. president of creative development and worldwide production, used to describe his keynote address at the second annual Dot Independent Film Festival (DIFF) in Los Angeles. Silverman’s speech explained why a self-proclaimed “suit” came to speak to a theater full of indie filmmakers and provided advice along the way.
“I am constantly searching for something different and original, outside the parameters of ‘independent’ versus ‘studio’ filmmaking,” he told the crowd at the Art Center College of Design Hillside Campus in Pasadena on Saturday.
DIFF LA is organized by students at the Art Center College of Design. This year, more than 200 filmmakers from the U.S. and abroad submitted work to be considered for screening and awards in eight different categories, including animation, experimental, music video and cinematography.
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Last year’s keynote speaker, Man of Steel helmer Zack Snyder, an Art Center alum, was cited throughout Silverman’s speech as a perfect example of the three components Silverman believes are key to great films: matching an artist to the right material, the power of visual storytelling and finding your voice. Silverman, who also serves on the Art Center board of trustees, first reached out to Snyder after noticing his “incredible vision” from his Jeep commercials. The two would go on to work together and eventually make 300, which Silverman said his bosses had initial reservations about.
“[Snyder] and I knew the story and source material were the best way to connect his essence to the audience,” Silverman said, “and that was really the key thing. Zack, like all great filmmakers, stuck to his vision. He believed, like I did, the audience would be as excited as we were.”
While the speech was full of advice for new and aspiring filmmakers, Silverman made it clear his audience has something to offer him, too.
“I’m desperately seeking voices with talent for visual storytelling,” he said. “I have a system behind me ready to connect great storytellers to their audiences around the world. Monsters leads to Godzilla. Swingers leads to Edge of Tomorrow. Jeep commercials lead to 300.”
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