The second annual Jalopnik Film Festival kicks off tomorrow, so Studio@Gawker asked three celebrated personalities in the car world to discuss the experience of judging this year's competition: racer and director Jeff Zwart, Volvo's VP of Marketing, Brand, and Communications Bodil Erikkson, and writer, comedian, and TV personality Spike Feresten.
Jeff Zwart is a commercial film director, racer, photographer, cameraman and author.
As a judge, what elements of the films stood out to you the most? How did you judge the creativity of submissions?
What I look for is an arc in the longer format films. It's hard to capture an audience when you start at a certain level and then go nowhere with it. I like when you immediately engage the viewer in an artful way and not just a literal way. Bring the viewer in and out of reality and stimulate them with visuals that are unexpected to tell the story.
I also look for two levels of engagement… one that is visually stimulating to anyone… not just the hardcore enthusiast but also the person on the sidelines. And the second point I look for is something so inside that the true enthusiast might look around the room upon watching it to see if anyone else noticed. I love when you take someone on a rollercoaster ride, it takes you up and down and occasionally thrills.
Have you ever judged a competition like this before? What is most exciting about judging this one?
I have judged a few things in the past, but I always like the unknown part of it. My life is directing films and commercials, so I always have some inside knowledge of how they will come out. Going into a film festival like this, it's just blind so it's fun to see how people have interpreted the subjects.
As someone who's participated in their share of film festivals, what makes this one special?
I think Jalopnik does a great job of unifying automotive "like" minds in such a unique way. Jalopnik has always given a distinct point of view on news and entertainment in the automotive category; it will be nice to see that represented in the winning films. My business is constantly interpreting speed so it will be fun to see how others interpret the fantastic automotive world we live in.
Bodil Eriksson is Volvo Car's Executive Vice President of Marketing, Brand, and Communications.
Why was it important for Volvo to participate in the Jalopnik Film Festival?
The Jalopnik community and Volvo have always shared such a strong connection over the years — it was a natural fit for us. The theme is so core to who we are and why we come to work every day.
Have you ever judged a competition like this? What is most exciting about judging this one?
No, I haven't judged something like this before. The most exciting part is getting the chance to witness the endless supply of creativity and passion the participants have put into their stories and visions. Each was so unique and personal; I love seeing how many wonderful ideas and thoughts can spring from one simple brief.
Specifically, you judged the "Why We Care" Volvo Short Film category, which Jalopnik readers were invited to submit to. Were you impressed with the interpretations of this category? What were some of the biggest surprises from readers?
I don't think it will surprise any of your readers to learn that these entries were filled with an endless supply of passion and excitement surrounding this category. Cars aren't a hobby for these aspiring filmmakers; they are part of their being.
What excites you most about the winning film, IGNITION? What was unique about this submission?
Storyboards from the winning submission, IGNITION.
It's a gentle story that everyone will be able to identify with, no matter your age or experience with cars. The story is simple and heartfelt and personal. It is a wonderful celebration of cars, but more importantly it is a heartfelt story about family and the importance of human connection. When I finished reading the script I felt like I had such a lovely sense of who the author is — I can't wait to meet him and see his creation.
Because this is Jalopnik, it must be asked: what Volvo do you drive and why?
I try to drive all of our cars. Right now, I drive our latest model, the V60. My V60 is red with a light beige interior: really eye-catching and beautiful! I love the way it drives; the engine is super smooth. It's a cool car with a modern air. As with all Volvos, it's also flexible and lend itself to great excursions
Former Seinfeld writer, talk show host, and comedian Spike Feresten hosts his own show, Car Matchmaker.
As a judge, what elements of the films stood out to you the most?
A passion for all things cars. These people love cars so much they need to film it and share it with the world.
How did you judge the creativity of submissions?
It's pretty simple really. Did the content hold my interest? Was I smiling? Was there thinking and composition behind the shots? I was willing to go on whatever ride the creators wanted to take me on, but would I go for the ride again? Or show friends?
What is your favorite feature film you've seen this year?
What about your favorite car-related film of all time?
American Graffiti. Just put the word "American" in your title and I will favorite it.
Have you ever judged a competition like this?
I vote for the Emmy's and Writer's Guild Awards, but honestly, this was way more diverse and cooler. How many consecutive years can you vote for The Daily Show and Modern Family, you know?