Interview with Nathan Ludwig (GenreBlast Film Festival, Festival Director )

 GenreBlast is an upstart film festival that had a very successful first year at the revitalized state-of-the-art State Theatre in wonderful downtown Culpeper, Virginia. Our second year will emanate from an exciting, soon-to-be announced venue! They celebrate the finest in true genre cinema and are looking for your best features, shorts, music videos and screenplays in the categories of horror, action/adventure, sci-fi, fantasy, martial arts, exploitation, documentaries, animation, grindhouse, suspense/thriller, international, experimental and more!

http://www.genreblast.com/

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

Nathan Ludwig: We pride ourselves on creating a completely welcoming experience for both filmmakers and movie lovers alike. It’s all about the movies and it’s all about the artists who make them. In our first year, we had about half of our official selections represented by either directors, writers, producers or actors. We had about 19 features and around 80 shorts as well as over a dozen screenplay finalists – so to say we were pleasantly surprised by the response would be an understatement. The bottom line is we take the time to get to know all of our filmmakers and their passions. We are also independent film makers and screenwriters in our other lives and we have been to many festivals as official selections, awards nominees and just as moviegoers and we know what works and what doesn’t work when it comes to putting on a fun weekend of movies, parties and networking.

MT: What would you expect to experience if you attend the festival this year (2017)?

NL: We are moving to a new venue this year – the Alamo Drafthouse Theater in Winchester, VA. Last year, our first year, we emanated from the historic State Theatre in Culpeper, VA. It was a newly restored classical movie theater originally constructed in 1938. We were literally the last event to play there before it closed its doors due to problems with fundraising. It’s currently in turnaround to new owners and the fate of the State Theatre is up in the air so we decided to change locations and get the word out as soon as possible. We were very lucky to secure the weekend of Sept. 8-10 of this year for GenreBlast 2. Andy Gyurisin is the Creative Manager at the Alamo Winchester and he was on board from the beginning for what we are offering to film nerds and film makers with out upstart fest. We really hope to make the Alamo the official home of GenreBlast for the foreseeable future. It’s such an amazing venue and extremely conducive to events like GenreBlast.

This year, there will be plenty of networking parties, discussion panels and Q&A sessions after each and every screening, for both shorts and features. The owners of the Alamo Drafthouse Winchester also own the neighboring Country Inn & Suites and will be providing room discounts for fest attendees. They also own the adjacent Green Turtle bar & restaurant which will also be at our disposal the entire weekend. The Alamo itself has a full bar and a huge food menu. You’ll be able to eat and drink to your heart’s content all weekend! It’s going to be one long, continuous party for artists and lovers of film and screenwriters to come together and celebrate what we all love the most. Movies!

MT: What are the qualifications for the selected films?

NL: I’m not quite sure what you mean by this question. Do you mean what do the selected films all have in common or what do you need in order to be a selected film? Or something else?

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

NL: I truly believe, at this level of film fests, the cream rises to the top. It just does. If your film is worth a screening, it will find an audience. Not everything gets into every fest, that’s just unrealistic. You just have to know what you have, know your audience and do your homework as to which fests to submit to. Don’t submit your shot-on-VHS zombie ninja movie to an indie film fest that focuses on straight-up dramas and comedies. You’ll end up frustrated and disappointed. Stay informed and keep up with the festival scene on a regular basis.

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

NL: We are obsessed with movies. It has been a dream of mine to hold an annual film fest curated by myself and my closest friends. For a handful of years, I kept making excuses as to why it wasn’t possible or feasible. One day, I just decided to get up off my butt and actually do it. Lo and behold, it happened and the whole thing went off without a hitch. We had an amazing turnout and many attendees commented it was the best run first year film fest they’ve ever been to. If you check out our reviews on FilmFreeway, you’ll see we’re not lying.

At the end of the day, all I care about is movies – whether it’s watching them, writing them (or about them) or making them. I wanted to channel my unconditional love and idiosyncratic passion for that into one yearly cinematic event. The fact that two of my closest friends agreed to come along on this weird, crazy ride is one of the biggest rewards so far.

MT: How has your FilmFreeway submission process been?

NL: The response on FilmFreeway has been positively insane. We are already outpacing last year’s submissions by a ridiculously wide margin. However, that shouldn’t deter anyone from submitting. We watch EVERYTHING from start to finish, even if you submit it at the very last second of the final deadline. If you care enough to submit, we care enough to watch/read and evaluate your work fairly and accurately. We have a very eclectic taste in movies and there’s nothing that really offends us or turns us off (except for poor filmmaking).

MT: Where do you see the festival by 2020?

NL: By that time, we will be in our fifth (!) year and by then, we want to be one of the premier genre film fests in the country. We want to be a destination fest for audiences and artists alike to converge and mingle amidst a killer lineup of genre films. We want to be like Fantastic Fest when we grow up.

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

NL: The Good, The Bad and the Ugly. Or maybe Scarface. Or was it Casino? Maybe it was one of the Godfather movies. If it’s three hours long and features tough fellas being tough, I’ve probably seen it several dozen times.

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

NL: A great film is one you can’t go without recommending to anyone who will listen.

MT: How is the film scene in your city?

NL: Winchester has a fiercely intelligent as well as warm and inviting film community – from the Winchester Film Society to Andy Gyurisin’s Film Club 3.0, which screens eclectic selections at the Alamo Drafthouse itself on a regular basis. GenreBlast will be right at home in this picturesque Virginia town.

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Interviewer Matthew Toffolo is currently the CEO of the WILDsound FEEDBACK Film & Writing Festival. The festival that showcases 20-50 screenplay and story readings performed by professional actors every month. And the FEEDBACK Monthly Festival held in downtown Toronto, and Los Angeles at least 2 times a month. Go to www.wildsound.ca for more information and to submit your work to the festival.

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