The PDXtreme Film Fest is the best damn genre festival Portland Oregon has ever seen! Taking place over 3 days at the historic Academy Theater, we showcase horror, crime, dark comedy, and everything in-between. Tales of the grotesque, the limits of the psychological, and bumps in the night whatever the cause! Does it take place in space? That’s cool too.
Interview with Jeremy Jantz:
Matthew Toffolo: What is your Film Festival succeeding at doing for filmmakers?
Jeremy Jantz: We know where we stand. The odds of an industry professional in the audience just waiting to sign a contract are incredibly slim. We don’t do a script competition because the best I can do is give you a “thumbs up” and that doesn’t seem worth the fee.
But we care about our line-up of films. We want it to mean something that a film is playing at PDXtreme Fest, because that means it’s in good company. We demonstrated our commitment to the significance of our awards with a custom made trophy. You can’t just hand those out. We encourage support among the attending filmmakers. What’s the point of flying across the country to watch only your own film? By last year’s wrap party, there was a whole lot of indie film talent around a set of tables at the nearest bar, and that’s the kind of experience that’s priceless. Or at least pricelessish.
We also pay attention to the small details along the way. We do personalized acceptance letters. Final notification is set in stone, and a month before the fest to make potential travel more convenient. Each film gets two free drink tickets for attendees. People thought the promised free beer was a joke last year. It was all too real.
We want attending PDXtreme Fest to be actual fun.
Matthew: What would you expect to experience if you attend the festival this year (2016)?
Jeremy: Based on last year, you’ll see a fantastic roster of genre films from around the world. PDXtreme Fest is hosted by the Academy Theater, a wonderfully restored vintage theater serving beer,wine and pizza- none of that meeting room screening going on here. There should be plenty of directors, as well as producers, talent, and other people associated with the films. There won’t be panels. I find them dull.
Matthew: What are the qualifications for the selected films?
Jeremy: We have a two person jury. So it’s not a complicated system where the film has to make it through a rank of interns or is scored via some arcane numeric formula. I’d say we have three basic rules that get a film on the short list. The very first criteria is: did we enjoy it? If it’s 30 seconds or 2 hours, it shouldn’t be boring. Second, it shouldn’t be half-assed. And half-assed isn’t about money. No matter what your budget is, passion is free and makes a big difference in the final film. Finally, we want to see something new in the film. There’s nothing wrong with starting with a genre cliche as long as some aspect ends up being original.
As far as moving from the short list to the accepted list, that’s a bit more ephemeral. Last year we ran the gamut from exploitation grind-house to holiday themed slasher to lesbian post-apocalyptic western. Ultimately Dulcie and I curate the fest like it’s a fest we want to attend.
Matthew: Do you think that some films really don’t get a fair shake from film festivals? And if so, why?
Jeremy: I don’t want to speculate about all of the nebulous behind the scenes going-ons at other fests that may or may not be happening. People know. People hear things. I can say that length comes up a lot for some filmmakers. The 25-60 minute film has a tough hill to climb. But if your film really needs to be that long, then so be it. Content is never an issue for us. We went NC-17 last year. Blood, nudity, veganism, we’ve embraced it all. We don’t care about the director’s gender. Last year we had 10 women directors/co-directors. Some of our most over the top films were from women directors. I know the discrimination happens, but that doesn’t mean I understand it.
Matthew: What motivates you and your team to do this festival?
Jeremy: Portland had a void for an all around genre film festival. After Dulcie and I attended a number of fests in other cities, we looked around and said “Why don’t we have something like this here?” Its not about getting the sack with the dollar sign on it. As cheesy as it sounds, it’s about the experience for everybody, whether a filmmaker or a film fan.
Matthew: How has the festival changed since its inception?
Jeremy: Since this will only be our second year, I can’t really point to a long and evolving history. The first year taught us some behind the scenes organizational lessons. This year we do hope to bring some upgrades to the fest experience. I really want to see a tie-in with a local brewer. Since this Portland, I have high hopes.
Matthew: Where do you see the festival by 2020?
Jeremy: There’s a limit to how much we would want to grow. I can’t ever see us in the Portland Convention Center as we collapse under our own financial weight year after in the red year. It’s going to be about striving to constantly improve in the small ways without forgetting that you need filmmakers to have a film festival.
Matthew: What film have you seen the most times in your life?
Jeremy: “True Romance”. It involved no cable, a limited VHS library, and too much vodka from a plastic bottle, but I watched that movie about 20 times in a two week period.
Matthew: In one sentence, what makes a great film?
Jeremy: I want to watch it again.
Matthew: How is the film scene in your city?
Jeremy: Portland is a very artistic city. Not only do we have an indie film scene, we have a tiny bit of Hollywood here. If you want to be an extra on “Grimm” this is the place for you. Seriously though, we’ve definitely developed to the point that all the building blocks are there for people interested in movie making.
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 tohttp://www.wildsound.ca for more information and to submit your work to the festival.