By Nicholas Hellyer

Art is collaboration is art is collaboration is art…

Got it?

That’s what I’ve learned over these past two, wearisome years. Artistic expression goes hand-in-hand with the human experience, and everyone’s experience has been fully reformed since 2020. Collaboration has been essential in my personal regrowth. Not only does surrounding myself with creatives help keep me creative, it helps make me accountable, innovative and, ultimately, sane.

I’m the president of my production company, The Intoxicated Readers, and we were born out of the sluggish start of my colleague’s and my college graduation in early 2020. We have been hosting weekly live streams, producing our own shorts, writing our own scripts, and producing our very own independent film festivals.

Why? Why does anyone do anything? Why would a bunch of acting graduates put together a film festival during a pandemic?

Well… why not?

We entered into a shriveled state of the world in June of 2020. We watched ourselves and fellow graduates flounder in the early Covid world, and we saw wasted potential at every corner, including our own. So we created the Intoxicated Film Festival, an online festival hosted out of my living room (the first time).

Tragedy is when creativity fails to find an outlet.

I’m writing this for a few reasons: Firstly, ‘cause I will be forever proud of what our little crew of actors has made (and continues to make). As a group of broke-but-surviving artists, we have built an entire production company on next to no budget. Take note– money does not stop creativity, it only attempts to inhibit it.

Secondly, to hopefully give a treat to the technical members of Blackmagic Collective who want to read about our insight and problem solving through the process.

Thirdly, and most importantly, to encourage you to create. Create, create, create. Even if you feel like the world is frozen around you, find a reason to create. Find people to create with. Find the smallest things to create about. Do not let anything impede your creativity.

Now. The festival. The Intoxicated Film Festival occurred May 7, 2021. An early May morning brought with it the excitement of showtime. How did we throw together a festival? Here’s some structure:

Production team (Planned out the festival.)
Marketing team (Handled advertisement and engagement.)
Trophy team (Secured the awards for the winners.)
Execution team (Managed the live stream.)

Simple, right? Here’s some advice: get yourself a reliable team of problem solvers. If you’re lucky, they will be willing to say “yes” to your crazy schemes just like my friends and colleagues have. If you’ve got that, you can take on the world.

Our show was a live stream in my one-bedroom apartment. We sectioned off the living room. One side was a studio space for the camera, the computer streaming the show and the host. The other side of the living room was a muted TV playing the stream with the other Readers huddled around, sipping wine and hushing their laughter so as to be heard.

It was splendid. We look back at that festival, put together purely on our ambition, and we still recognize it as a touchstone for our capabilities. Our company has grown so much from that split living room. For the tech lovers this is how we managed the technical side of the first festival:

Sony A7III connected to…
El Gato 4k Capture link into stream-capable computer.
Blue Yeti Desk mic on a table just below frame in front of the host.
A gray backdrop.

That’s all it took for us to host an entire show. You can check it out here:

The Intoxicated Fright Fest – Oct. 29, 2021

Take two. If you want to grow, you must take an objective look at ways to improve. What worked? What didn’t? What was missing? We had a few answers. The living room studio became a 25-seat backyard at one of the Reader’s house. Projector and a screen for the live audience. One camera turned into a multi-cam experience; one on the host, one on the house. The Blue Yeti Desk mic upgraded to two Shure Handheld mics connected to the stream pc via Focusrite-Scarlett. (We recruited a sound guy!) And the closed-to-the-public show became a live screening with all the invited filmmakers showing negative covid tests. With just a little hindsight under our belts, the production value had skyrocketed.

All with next to no budget.

Again for our technophiles:

Cam A: Sony A7III connected through…
El Gato Capture Card.
Cam B: Nikon (Not sure what model) connected through…
El Gato 4k Cam Link. Two Shure SM58 handheld mics connected through…
Focusrite – Scarlett 4i4
A Gray backdrop.
White Projector screen.

Most of these were borrowed. Which brings me to my final point of this blog: Treat your friends well, and your colleagues better. Networking is such a gross, selfish term that I much prefer “Building My Community.” The amount of people who were willing to support me was wonderful. Because we had built that trust and community. So often the filmmaking industry is construed as a tormented wasteland filled with naught but evil megalomaniacs. It isn’t. The Intoxicated Readers are here, representing the power of collaboration and love for art. Blackmagic Collective is doing its part too. If you haven’t had the pleasure of catching one of their live stream or in-person events, the Intoxicated Readers recommends you check out this free resource.

You can see the Intoxicated Fright Fest at:

Intoxicated Film Festival II – May 28, 2022

Yes, you read that right. We have a film festival underway right now. You can see information about it on our Instagram page. I can’t tell you how it’s going yet because this story is still being written. We haven’t stopped creating and we haven’t stopped growing. This festival will be another step forward on our journey, and we’re hoping it will be our biggest one yet. We’d love for you to tune in and support some indie artists who are hosting their film festival for no other reason than, “Why not?”

Happy filmmaking.

Production Company & Website link: Intoxicated Readers

Instagram: @Nicholas_Hellyeah @intoxicated_readers