Let's take a closer look at Mike Tully's negative review of IFBRT & see if we can clarify some things
"At its best, Sujewa Ekanayake’s Indie Film Blogger Road Trip is certain to go down as one of the more bizarre time capsules of life on early-21st Century Earth."
Cool - life on Earth in early 21st century - right now - is pretty bizarre, so a film dealing with a new, early-21st Century thing like film blogging/a film blogging community, should reflect that reality. The doc, however, is very simple & conventional in its form & content (shots of people talking). It is intended to be a time capsule of sorts.
"At its worst, it is a shamefully, inarguably inept attempt at movie-making. If one didn’t know the director’s background, it would appear that IFBRT was a blogger’s first attempt at making a film, not a film about blogging by a self-professed experienced DIY filmmaker. Not long into IFBRT, an admittedly snarky thought arose: Ekanayake needed to add a D to the DIY for his own unique brand of cinema, Don’t Do It Yourself."
There is no wrong way to make a movie. Those who think so probably are better off being critics or reviewers - commentators on the work of actual filmmakers - than being filmmakers themselves. Making interesting art/entertainment requires experimentation & re-invention. Regardless, the interviews are presented clearly & the audio is very audible & clear. IFBRT is a very simple film as far as content is concerned - consisting mostly of interviews and shots of traveling. It is far from inept, in my opinion. Filmmakers who fear DIY filmmaking are afraid of Hollywood, they want the acceptance that comes with being able to mimic Hollywood or indiewood norms - such as shooting on film - something Tully has often said is the mark of a real film. In the DIY film world, or in the world where people are honest about the subjective nature of art/entertainment appreciation & Hollywood hype, all films are real - regardless of what medium it was shot in or whether it follows patterns of information presentation established by previous films.
"Fuller confession: if pressed to come up with an idea for a feature-length documentary less stimulating, engaging, and worthwhile than one about film blogging, I genuinely don’t think I could do it (I told Mr. Ekanayake this when he asked me to be in his film). Fullest confession: having seen IFBRT, I now know that I was right."
IFBRT is definitely not for people who think blogging about film is a waste of time. The quoted sentences by Tully presented above leads me to ask - if film blogging is a worthless task, why are you doing it? Do you feel that you are worthless & thus should engage in worthless activities or perhaps, underneath your contempt for blogging perhaps you recognize that blogging is actually a worthwhile activity. For example, would I know about or care about the existence of Mike Tully if his blog did not exist? Probably not. So there's some proof as to the value of blogging. Like other art, blogging allows people to express themselves - including film blogging - which allows people to express themselves & also comment on works of art/entertainment.
"It is not your fault, Brandon Harris, that you were interviewed while wearing dirty socks with holes in them; it is Mr. Ekanayake’s fault that he framed you so widely, and didn’t notice when your foot kept brushing into the foreground of the frame (it took a few sweeps to figure out what was going on here—a trick in perspective—but when I realized that this furry presence in the bottom right-hand corner of the frame was indeed your sock… wow)."
When I started to film that interview with Brandon he had on a worn out shirt with holes. I suggested to him that he might want to wear a better shirt since, quite possibly, many people will see him in the doc. So he changed his shirt. I do not have a problem with showing someone's sox in a doc. Are we supposed to pretend that Brandon does not have any sox with holes in them? My goal was to generally capture film bloggers as they would like to present themselves to the world, without too much interference from me. Also, choice in clothing is a way of expressing oneself (this is an extreme example - but will illustrate my point - did Gandhi wear his "strange" outfits to express a view point or did he do it because he could not afford better cloths?). Again, this comes back to Tully's obsession with right & wrong ways to make movies - I think a blogger who is comfortable at home to do an interview in his sox is a cool thing - this wasn't a job interview - Brandon looks presentable - and I seriously doubt that his sox were dirty & or had holes in them - will have to check the footage to see. Regardless, what about the topics Brandon was discussing in the film - the state of Black film festivals, the effect of digital filmmaking on minority filmmakers - certainly stuff that is more important than whether Brandon owns sox that are not objectionable to Tully's standards of public presentation, yet no comment on Tully in his review re: the subject matter discussed by Brandon & I in Brandon's segment.
"It is not your fault, Paula Martinez, that Mr. Ekanayake set you up in a wide two-shot with co-Atlanta Film Festival compatriot Gabe Wardell, but then proceeded to have what appeared to be a one-on-one conversation between himself and Mr. Wardell (a late-inning attempt at redemption was much too late)."
For much of that hour+ long interview taping, Gabe dominated the conversation - also I had a hand in this. This habit, of men talking a lot & not making enough room for women to speak is a common situation in the indie film world. So, I wanted to keep in that footage where Paula was largely silent because Gabe & I were talking a lot - it reflects a current situation in indie film. Not only did I leave that in, I cut in a shot where Paula calls attention to the fact that she feels like she needs to ask my permission to ask a question. That segment with Gabe & Paula is one of my favorite segments in the doc because Gabe asks several devil's advocate questions about film blogging & what it means to traditional film writing (print) & in turn how taking away the power of media such as New York Times by DIY bloggers might not be the best thing when it comes to real indie films going against Hollywood marketing muscle (more on that complex argument in IFBRT). Also, as mentioned above, that segment might be capturing a moment where well intentioned liberal creative men such as Gabe & I have slipped into a pattern where the woman present in the same space has to make an extra effort to be a part of the conversation - nice thing to have on tape, as a reminder on how to manage future discussions re: all aspects of the media making, specially indie filmmaking & distribution, world.
"It is not your fault, Anthony Kaufman, that Mr. Ekanayake chose to place you at the beginning and end of the film, causing the panicked thought of “does this mean we have to go through another round with everyone again?!” before realizing that you were being used as a mere bookend."
Of all the bloggers presented in the doc, Kaufman has the most amount of traditional film journalism experience & accomplishments (as far as I know). Thus, the brief segment with him in the opening credits where he talks about a career breakthrough moment might allow viewers to make a connection with DIY film journalism such as blogging & more traditional & better known film journalism where people get paid to review Sundance movies for Village Voice. Though the two types of work live at different ends of the film journalism spectrum, they are related, and today's DIY film bloggers may become tomorrow's Variety, Village Voice, New York Times writers. Also, even though Kaufman expresses ambivalence about the future of film journalism I see him as a success story, thus, ending the doc on sort of an upbeat note by ending with the bulk of Kaufman's segment was selected as a very good way to go.
"...but if we are to treat Ekanayake as a legitimate filmmaker, which he constantly reminds us that he is on a multi-daily basis, then the days of polite acknowledgment must cease and we must confront the harsh truth: when it comes to IFBRT, there is no legitimate filmmaking to be found."
All filmmaking is legitimate. Those who think otherwise, as I stated earlier, will or most likely will end up as film reviewers or commentators, but not filmmakers - which I believe is Tully's current relationship to the film world - as far as I know he has not made a movie - at least not a feature - in 3 years (in a time period where some of his former filmmaking peers make & release one or more features a year). And that's cool, not everyone can handle the pressure of being a filmmaker, as mentioned by one subject in IFBRT - which Tully may or may not have heard since he was busy imagining, for a part of the movie, that the digital revolution in film & journalism/writing has not happened & he was still living in 1995:
"...I tried taking a different perspective and pretended that I was watching this film in 1995, when none of this shit would have made any fucking sense."
And that may not be that difficult of a mental exercise for Tully to perform, since, feeling threatened or turned off or somehow disinterested by DIY film journalism & DIY filmmaking & distribution, he chooses to react in a hostile manner to a work that pays close attention & uses new technology to explore a post-1995 development.