Long ago, when the Earth was new, if you didn’t know how to change a flat tire, you called your dad or AAA and waited, shivering and lonely, by the side of the road. Now, you get out your phone, search YouTube, learn and are on your merry, spare-tired way. The life-altering art of video instruction is being celebrated at the first-ever Arlington “How To” Video Festival on Saturday.
The films in the lineup are all short — under 10 minutes — and the topics are varied. “There’s a whole spectrum, from how to screen-print your own shirts to how to eat a cupcake,” says Paul Shortt, new media curator for Arlington Cultural Affairs and one of the festival’s two jurors.
In August, Arlington Arts put out a call to amateur and professional filmmakers in D.C., Maryland and Virginia, seeking submissions for the contest. Shortt and Gareth Branwyn — a local author specializing in DIY subjects, and the festival’s other juror — wanted videos that were not only informative, but fun to watch. “ ‘How to do Photo-shop’ might not translate into something you want to watch on a large screen,” Shortt says.
The goal of the festival, which will award a $250 prize for the best video, is to get the community involved in the arts in a different way, says Josh Stoltzfus, programming director for Arlington Cultural Affairs.
“People want to do something more than being a passive audience member,” he says. “That’s still a valid way to participate in the arts, but more and more it’s not the only way.”
The audience members for the video festival won’t be passive either: They’ll help select the winner of the people’s choice award, which comes with a three-month membership and two free classes at TechShop DC-Arlington.
Not surprisingly, coordinating a “how to” event has been educational for the organizers.
“I think we’re learning how to do a video festival,” Stoltzfus says. “That’s what’s exciting about new programs — you don’t know where it’s going to take you.”
“I learned how to make fake blood,” Shortt says. “I didn’t know how to do that before.”
Spectrum Theatre, 1611 N. Kent St., Arlington; Sat., noon-2 p.m., free.
Sofia Reecer’s entry in the “How To” Video Festival gets a little bloody — just as she intended. The 13-year-old eighth-grader made the video, a lesson in how to concoct fake blood, last year for her video journalism class at Gunston Middle School in Arlington. “I submitted it to our student film festival and it had done OK,” says Sofia, who shot the five-minute video on her school-issued iPad. “I’d like to thank my parents for not getting too mad when I spilled the fake blood all over my desk.” The video turned out to be a how-to experience for Sofia, too. “I made it the night before [it was due] and at the end it was like 11 or midnight,” she says. “I learned about managing my time better.”
More things to do this weekend