VIFF draws a bead on YouTube, other digital platforms for ‘elevated’ content

Fun fact: filmmaker J.J. Abrams’ first produced writing credit was for the 1990 comedy Taking Care of Business.

While the Jim Belushi starrer didn’t send Abrams into the stratosphere (it registers at 31% on Rotten Tomatoes), Vancouver International Film Festival might be taking inspiration from its title during this year’s events.

For the third year in a row, the festival is hosting the VIFF Industry Exchange in a bid to ratchet up business development among local filmmakers.

“We developed that program to help mid-to-senior-level producers and content creators know how to exist in the digital landscape,” VIFF executive director Jacqueline Dupuis said.

“It’s about bringing in buyers and distribution platforms, and what content are these companies looking for, how do you partner, how do you monetize?”

Dupuis said local producers are already working on productions made for streaming services like Netflix (Nasdaq: NFLX), Hulu and Amazon (Nasdaq: AMZN).

But other platforms, she said, are offering more opportunities for local content to be created and distributed to wide audiences.

This year VIFF is partnering with Toronto’s Buffer Festival, which is focused on creators working on digital platforms and “elevated” YouTube content.

“And by ‘elevated’ they mean cinematic,” Dupuis said.

“So we’re talking about the storytellers, not the make-up videos — not that there’s anything wrong with that.”

She said the partnership will bring a full day of programming for what VIFF is dubbing Creator Day, where digital creators will meet up and help others develop their skill sets in this arena.

“Vancouver is such an interesting, creative ecosystem because from a creativity and innovation perspective, as well as the bourgeoning tech sector, we have a lot going on,” said Dupuis.

Beyond the VIFF Industry Exchange and the Buffer Festival @ VIFF, the festival is also playing host to the Sustainable Production Forum.

Industry experts will be featured on panels covering everything from technologies that reduce greenhouse gas emissions throughout a film’s productions to new ways film students are making productions more sustainable.

“We’ve shifted the programming more towards professional development and again creating networking opportunities so doors are open for when these folks are ready to do business,” said Dupuis.