Interview with Festival Director Nathan Fleet (Hamilton Film Festival)

The 11th Annual Hamilton Film Festival (HFF XI) is one of Canada’s most important up-and-coming film festivals. This year’s festival will feature over $15,000 in prize value, plus the opportunity to network with, and pitch your projects to, film buyers, agents, distributors and other film-makers.

Interview with Festival Director Nathan Fleet

Matthew Toffolo: What is your Film Festival succeeding at doing for filmmakers?

Nathan Fleet: Quality networking and in the past 2 years, getting distributors interested in our content, which is why we are bringing the Canadian Film Market this year.

So many filmmakers have met and made films because of their meeting at HFF

MT: What would you expect to experience if you attend the festival this year (2016)?

NF: The biggest change is the Canadian Film Market. The focus will be on film sales, film pitches and coproductions with Canada. This will be an affordable opportunity for people to participate in a Market setting along side our film festival. As far as the festival goes, our programming team is exceptional so you will see some of the world’s best films, including Canada. Our policy is to not pre select a theme or genre. We let the submissions dictate the way our festival looks.

MT: What are the qualifications for the selected films?

NF: Honestly, if it is good, we want to see in on our screens. Again, our programming team have keen eyes for great material. It blows me away sometimes that some of the top tier don’t accept some of these. We also have room for First Time Filmmakers and Student films and we don’t scale them as harshly as we might for an established production company.

MT: Do you think that some films really don’t get a fair shake from film festivals? And if so, why?

NF: I do and while I am sure each has their own reason, it is nearly impossible for a festival to program everything they receive.

MT: What motivates you and your team to do this festival?

NF: Initially it was a cool thing to do to gather some films and screen them one evening. What better way to network with a hundred filmmakers in one week!

I’m a filmmaker as well so this is definitely the type of event I want to attend.

MT: How has the festival changed since its inception?

NF: We grew and grew but maintained our local connection. Our tag is Locally Focused, Internationally Recognized. We always want to make sure that we have room for local filmmakers to grow and exhibit. We earn the “Hamilton” in our title.

MT: Where do you see the festival by 2020?

NF: Unless there is a drastic change in formats and viewing habits, I love the road we are on. I would love for the Festival and the Market to become a destination and I think that is where we are already headed.

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

NF: Star Wars: Episode IV

MT: In one sentence, what makes a great film?

NF: There is no one thing as it is a combination of all craftspeople presenting their best within the project.

MT: How is the film scene in your city?

NF: It’s growing everyday. We have a new film district with Digital Canaries, we have more and more talent from Toronto moving into the city, we have an 11 year old Festival and now a Film Market. You will be able to take your film from Concept to Acquisition in Hamilton.


Nathan Fleet is a professional musician, filmmaker and educator from Hamilton Ontario Canada.
​He runs the Hamilton Film Festival, the Hamilton Film Expo,  the Canadian Film Market and Blue Pick Media.

In 2015, Nathan travelled to Comic-Con International in San Diego to support the screening of his short comedy Air Knob, which has screened around the world in theatres, broadcast and in the air!

​He is currently working to complete his rock album Talk To The Machine, which is expected in 2016.

Interviewer Matthew Toffolo is currently the CEO of the WILDsound FEEDBACK Film & Writing Festival. The festival that showcases 10-20 screenplay and story readings performed by professional actors every month. And the FEEDBACK Monthly Fesival held in downtown Toronto on the last Thursday of every single month. Go to for more information and to submit your work to the festival.

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