BigPictureCon founder and producer Nancy Howard said the primary goal for the 2014 conference was to increase attendance and awareness of the event, which began in 2005 and repeated in 2007, 2009 and 2013. “We lost a bit of momentum doing the conference sporadically like we had to in the past,’ Howard shared. But the work she and the other conference organizers did to get into an annual routine certainly succeeded, increasing attendance by 19 percent over the last conference to well over 200 participants.
“This year’s conference was outstanding,” she said. “We had fantastic speakers.”
Serving as the closing keynote speaker was Michael Donaldson, an independent film and entertainment attorney from Donaldson+Calif Law Firm in Los Angeles. He shared best practices on fair use of intellectual property and other legal advice for emerging filmmakers and content creators. Opening keynotes Numa Perrier and Dennis Dortch, co-creators of the web network Black&SexyTV, spoke about their experiences and insights on how to maneuver the Hollywood and independent film festival system to help anyone seeking to develop creative content.
BigPictureCon Founder NANCY HOWARD (in green), with keynote speakers MICHAEL DONALDSON,
NUMA PERRIER and DENNIS DORTCH, and BPC Program Coordinator MELISSA RANDLE (center)
As always, the hands-on workshops were the most popular activities. The panel on sound design by audio engineer Joe Howell was well-received, as was the mobile digital camera workshop headed by Amani Channel. A surprise hit was the legal panel featuring Donaldson, attorney Keisha Perry and Georgia Lawyers for the Arts representative David Mayer.
The conference this year took place at Clayton State University. Howard said Clayton State’s Conference Center had everything the BigPictureCon needed as far as space, support and services. Howard in particular credited FilmClayton, the county’s film office, with helping everything work out.
“The services that the Clayton County Film Office makes available to up and coming filmmakers and the locations and industry knowledge and activity they have there makes them an excellent resource,” she said. “It was a great partnership so we’d be honored to come and bring our 10th anniversary conference back there in 2015!”
“What’s important for our office is to help promote jobs and training in the industry,” said FilmClayton Director Grant Wainscott. The goal is to create a qualified workforce to bring filmmaking to Clayton. Having the conference at Clayton State University, where film training is already taking place, is a natural fit, since it allows the film office to promote CSU programs to the BigPictureCon audience. FilmClayton thought it was so important to promote the conference that it provided a $2,000 sponsorship.
Wainscott also spoke on the first day of the conference, welcoming participants to Clayton County and explaining what kind of services the county and CSU could provide. Although Wainscott had to leave later that day, he said a coworker who stayed for the conference reported it went well. He definitely hopes the conference will return to Clayton.
“We’d love to see attendance grow and grow every year and we’d love to see how we can help with that,” he said.
"The Big Picture Con was a life-changing experience for many of the attendees who came from as far away as St. Louis and Tampa to be part of this event,” said Clayton film instructor Jonathan Harris, who assisted in arranging to bring the event to CSU, and also taught the editing workshop, one of the highest-rated sessions at the conference. “Face to face with industry professionals, they learned real-world and hands-on skills they will need to succeed in this industry. More importantly, they were inspired to create by the other media makers in attendance.” He said his students were energized by the conference and are writing new films and collaborating with each other as a result of their participation.
“I enjoyed the panels and workshops offered,” she said. “I believe the editing workshop was a great benefit.” She said she learned wonderful ideas about how to engage her audience through film and about networking. She also liked how the panelists were willing to engage in one-on-one networking with participants.
The next conference will take place Oct. 18-19, 2015, and will be the 10th anniversary of the BigPictureCon. Some very special programs and features are being planned – so stay tuned!