Meet Jon Ashby of Film Rogue.

Film Rogue is a website dedicated to Independent film and is a favorite of mine, why sometimes I even write for them.  I talked to Jon last week.

KB: What’s your background in film/video?

JA: Years back in high school I already had a good idea what I wanted to do, so I took a job with a local post-production facility where I worked for school credit.  Basically enslaved myself for educational purposes.  From there getting into film school was pretty easy, but after a few years there I found out finding work in the industry was a little tougher, especially in Alberta.  So I took a job in news and worked my way up there, cutting ENG and directing our live broadcasts.  During that time I shot a few films, a web series, and a news-magazine style show called Rewind which promoted ultra-low-budget filmmaking.  It got pretty popular and spawned the website and its film festival state-side.

KB: You started a web site called Common Film which became Film Rogue.  Why did you start the website in the first place?

JA: Well after about eight years or so Rewind faded into the sunset so to speak, but I still wanted to promote film and support filmmakers in the way I’d done for so many years before.  On the other hand, I wanted to step things up quality-wise and see some more developed talent.  I came up with the idea of Common Film as a way for producers to share produced material in an open way under creative commons licensing.  (Thus the name.)  My thinking was that if we shared media and remixed each other’s stuff some cool things might come out of the ether.  After a year or so though it never really picked up, so I decided to turn my focus to what I’ve always done best, critiquing film and promoting production and distribution of indie cinema.  I revamped the site and renamed it Film Rogue, rebranded the podcasts I produce, and here we are.

KB: Why the name change?

JA: Well I ditched the creative commons experiment, so the name Common Film didn’t really fit anymore.  I wanted something that spoke more to the independent spirit of the films I was promoting.  And not indie as in ‘Sony just backed me for 3 mil’ indie, I mean REAL indie.  Shooting without permits indie.  Everyone on deferment indie.  I’m not against budgets, but I didn’t want to see that studio brand of fake-independent film.  I actually polled the membership of Common Film for feedback and ultimately decided on Film Rogue.

KB: What can filmmakers get out of your site?

JA: It’s a great way to share and promote released work or work in progress.  We have forums specifically for filmmakers where we discuss everything from things we’re working on to low-budget film and video technique.  It’s a tight little group but we welcome any creative spirits like ourselves to drop in and get involved.  For producers who have films out, we offer objective reviews from a panel of film critics, as well as interviews on our podcasts.  The MicroCinemaScene podcast has a great listenership and we jam with a lot of different filmmakers so it’s an excellent way to get word of mouth going.  Ultimately it’s a great site to seek out exposure for films that might otherwise have a hard time with it.  Down the road I plan to launch a new film event that screens the best of the entries we get.

KB: You review a lot of films, how do I go about submitting something to you?

JA: Right from the Film Rogue homepage you can click Submissions at the top.  It includes all the info you need.  Of course it’s really simple – just mail us your DVD screener.  A little patience is required; we get a lot of entries.  Eventually though we get to everyone and in most cases will arrange for an interview on the show.

KB: What are the advantages to being a member?

JA: Forum access is the biggest one.  As we amp up our marketing a bit we’ll have some giveaways and promotions that will be available to the membership.  Also members can get discounts now and then on things like subscriptions to film magazines, stuff like that.  I also offer free ads to members with quality sites and those fundraising for production.

KB: What else do you want to tell me about Film Rogue?

JA: While I’ve been doing the film site thing for about a decade now, FR is relatively young.  I’m not just looking for members, but writing contributors who want to help get the word out about indie cinema.  I encourage members to write in about the stuff they’ve seen and to spread the word, if they caught a really cool film, if they had an interesting experience at a film festival, if they’ve gone broke trying to finance their film and want to share their mistakes so others can benefit. These are the sorts of articles I’d love to publish.  Hopefully we’ll get more writers involved as the site grows.  We’ve made a lot of changes recently to make membership fast and easy, so I invite anyone and everyone to stop by and check it out.  Just make sure your web browser is up-to-date – it’s an intense site!

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