Interview with Festival Director Jon Mercurio Knight (Wasteland Film Festival)

wasteland_logo.jpgThe Wasteland Film Festival is entering its fifth year and only growing bigger. The highlight short films with especially post-apocalyptic subject matter and, in addition, alternative films displaying a certain character right at home in the post nuke society. Films meeting certain criteria will be screened as part of the competition, others will simply be for exhibition.

Interview with Festival Director Jon Mercurio Knight

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

Jon Mercurio Knight: We’re building exposure and bringing films from across the world into the hands of those who wouldn’t normally have access to many of these films. Also, many regular attendees to Wasteland Weekend, the event the Wasteland Film Festival takes place at, come from the LA area as well as from across the United States (and some from overseas). All tickets to Wasteland Weekend have already sold out, so we’re talking thousands of people.

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

JMK: A 4 day, post apocalyptic party in the desert with mandatory costume. The main area is built like something out of Mad Max.

MT: What are the qualifications for the selected films?

JMK: To fit in any of our categories. Post Apocalyptic. Sci-fi. Horror. Atmospheric/Weird. Music Videos. Animated.

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

JMK: I think Post Apocalyptic is an often overlooked genre, that our festival showcases in addition to our other categories. There are a lot of fans of post apocalyptic films, but until the new Mad Max came out, the bigger studios had little to no interest in such films. Here and there, we’d see something, but I think it was adopted far more by independent cinema than maintream cinema.

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

JMK: The love of films and showcasing really solid work that meet our standards of excellence.

MT: How has the festival changed since its inception?

JMK: Our first year started with two queen bed sheets tied to the back of a trailer. Our next year, Wasteland Weekend built us a theater space and a nice sized post apocalyptic screen. Each year has seen some kind of new progression. Last year was our first having dedicated prize support money and we upped the money we’re awarding this year.

MT: Where do you see the festival by 2020?

JMK: We will have a fully enclosed, air conditioned daytime theater (actually, we’re planning on that for next year), which will allow us to show films during the day rather than wait for the night. We’ll also have encore based shows in LA with Wasteland Weekend support and possibly Sacramento. We’ll just keep getting bigger and better!

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

JMK: So many, hard to count them all. But the fundamental core films would have to be the original Star Wars trilogy.

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

JMK: A film that takes you along a journey without anything to pull you out, that moves you, that thrills you, that gets you involved in its characters, that makes you invest in it until the credits roll.

MT: How is the film scene in your city?

My city is Sacramento, which is not where the film festival takes place at. LA, the nearest big city to the festival speaks for itself.


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About Jon Mercurio Knight: A filmmaker, writer, and graphic designer. I have always had a passion for films and have always wanted to present and showcase films to others. That’s why I started up the Wasteland Film Festival, earned the respect of the WW staff by creating a professional end result, with quality films submitted from around the world. Each year presents new challenges, technical challenges, and stresses, and each year, the festival happens thanks to my unyielding determination to create the best possible film festival.



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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