Interview with Ashley Berens, from the North By Midwest Micro-Budget Film Festival

Matthew Toffolo Interviews Ashley Berens, Marketing & Promotion Specialist, Public Media Network
North By Midwest Micro-Budget Film Festival
Kalamazoo, Michigan

Out of the heart of the Midwest, the North By Midwest Micro-Budget Film Festival looked for films done on a shoe-string budget. Our categories included: Long Feature, Short Feature, Short Documentary/Profile, Animation, and an all-new challenge…MicroCam. Our budget restrictions were under 10K for Long Features and under 5K for other categories (not including equipment costs). With our whole new challenge of MicroCam, we wanted people to use their small devices (iPhone, iPad, Android phones and tablets, GoPros – no DSLR’s allowed) and be able to edit them in their software of choice.

Free Screening Event Day: May 16, 2015
Kalamazoo, Michigan, the Epic Center downtown

Matthew: What is the goal of your film festival?

Ashley: As a non-profit Community Media Center, Public Media Network has witnessed the talent and caliber of video production on a small budget. What we know is that you can do many things on your own, or with a small crew, and get a tremendous product – it’s in our DNA. We wanted to showcase media and films from everywhere (we’ve gone international!) that it doesn’t have to have a large Hollywood budget.

Matthew: How has the festival changed since its inception until your upcoming 2015 festival?

Ashley: The festival started out in Ann Arbor, Michigan as a Micro-Budget Film Festival. After losing their venue, we were asked if we could take the festival on. This year was a pilot project, and based on the enthusiastic response, we’ve been greenlighted for next year. Call for entries will be January 18 – February 19, 2016.

Matthew: How many films are you showcasing at your Film Festival?

Ashley: We are looking at screening roughly 36 films, selected from across the 5 categories.

Matthew: Can you give us a sneak peek of what to except for the 2015 Festival?

Ashley: Your guess is as good as ours! We’ve recognized small film making niches in our area, and our hope is that the community will come to our free screening event on May 16, 2015 in Kalamazoo, Michigan.

Matthew: Is there going to be an overall theme for the 2015 festival?

Ashley: Recognizing talent, making connections and inspiring filmmakers that something amazing can be done with such a small budget.

Matthew: Where do you see your festival in 5 years?

Ashley: In 5 years, we hope to still be celebrating Micro-Budget talent. Since this is our first year, we hope to expand further year by year. Will the budget still be 5K and 10K? We don’t know…we may have to adjust for cost of living… 🙂

Matthew: What’s the current status of the Film Scene in your city?

Ashley: There are many local colleges and universities that have film or media production programs. There are also many local groups that appreciate film – like one of our sponsors, the Kalamazoo Film Society. Media is huge in Michigan, and seeing as Kalamazoo is a mid-sized community, we wanted to have great prizes. In each category, 1st place receives $1,000, 2nd places receives $500, and 3rd place receives $100. We will have an awards ceremony on the day of the screening.

Matthew: What film have you seen the most in your life?

Ashley: Personally, I enjoy many types of films – documentaries being my favorite. But I have to say that Mean Girls is the best!

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