CreativeFuture has partnered with Slamdance On the Road as a Presenting Sponsor to showcase new and emerging artists, filmmakers, and storytellers at events across the country over the coming year. CreativeFuture recently caught up with Bible Quiz Director Nicole Teeny, whose film was the 2013 Slamdance Jury Prize Winner for Documentary Feature.
Bible Quiz debuted at the Slamdance Film Festival in 2013 and opened in Los Angeles in March. It makes its Netflix debut on June 10.
CreativeFuture: What is your documentary about?
Nicole Teeny: Bible Quiz is a coming-of-age documentary that follows seventeen-year-old Mikayla Irle as she memorizes books of the Bible on her quest to win the National Bible Quiz Championship and the heart of JP, her quiz team captain. The film explores teen life in the face of faith, doubt, fierce competition, sexuality and first loves.
CreativeFuture: What have been some of the biggest challenges you’ve come up against during this project?
Nicole Teeny: One of the biggest challenges for first time filmmakers – especially recent graduates – is finding funding. Someone once told me there’s a triangle with three prongs labeled: fast, cheap, and good. You are only allowed to pick two.
CreativeFuture: In terms of time, effort and money, do you think people understand what is involved in the making of a film (like yours)?
Nicole Teeny: Making a film is a lot more work and money than I originally anticipated. There are a lot of unforeseen costs and things to do that creep up, especially in post-production, the online edit and getting the film out into the world. This film was intimate and low-budget so often what I could not pay money for someone else to do, I ended up paying for in time. When you are making your first film you do not know exactly what to expect and so there are a lot of what I like to call “learning experiences”. Now that I have made a film I have a lot more respect for my fellow filmmakers and the blood, sweat, tears, and cold cash that go into making a movie.
CreativeFuture: In today’s digital environment, there are a lot ways for filmmakers to reach audiences, how do you go about promoting your work?
Nicole Teeny: I found it useful to promote the film through a variety of platforms. Film festivals, Slamdance on the Road, and other screenings in different parts of the country was critical to grow awareness for the film. These partners connected with their networks and helped expand our reach. I know everyone says it, but social media is vital to independent filmmakers. Twitter, Facebook, mailing lists and a website have been key to connecting to the film’s audience and letting them know where and how to see the film.
CreativeFuture: There are some who say that the way to reach audiences is to give your stuff away for free, how do you feel about that?
Nicole Teeny: Each film is unique and so what works for marketing one film might not work for another. It’s important to consider your audience when developing an outreach plan. In terms of “free stuff” sometimes it’s useful to share a trailer, clips, description, etc. to pique people’s curiosity. At the same time, it’s also nice when people buy a DVD or pay for a ticket at the theater because that is how filmmakers make their bread.
CreativeFuture: Have you ever found your work available for free online without your permission? How did you feel about that?
Nicole Teeny: Because this is my first film, I haven’t had the experience of seeing my movie online without my permission. I imagine I would feel a mixture of emotions: flattered that people want to watch it but primarily disheartened given all the love, time and money that I have put into making it.
Bible Quiz has been reviewed by the Los Angeles Times and LA Weekly.
A series of interviews with creative people about the creative process and the value of creativity.