Interview with Festival Director Anthony Michael Hobbs (Imagination Lunchbox International Children’s Film Festival)

 Imagination Lunchbox is a film production company based in Baltimore, Maryland. After screening films at numerous festivals across the country, they realized that there was a need for kid focused films in the Baltimore, Maryland and general area. It seemed only appropriate that a company well-known for kid centered films would be the perfect organization to help fill this need.

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

Anthony Michael Hobbs: The Imagination Lunchbox International Children’s Film Festival is succeeding at giving a special opportunity for kid filmmakers who don’t get the chance to show their films, by having three categories: FOR kids, BY kids, and STARRING Kids; everything is about the kids!

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

When people come to the film festival this year, they will experience a lot of effort and excitement as we show films by kid filmmakers, but also for ways to make the film festival better. I want everyone to come out and see what we have to offer, and then tell us what they like and what they would want to see next year. I hope that other kid filmmakers hear about us so they know they now have a place that will focus on their films.

What are the qualifications for the selected films?

We are actually still screening, but our selection qualifications are how much we think other kids will enjoy them, and which films will bring a variety to the festival. We want a variety of people, experiences, and even cultures. I’m looking forward to kids in Baltimore enjoying films by kids in Europe, Australia, Brazil, or where ever they come from!

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

Yes, I think some films don’t get a fair shake at film festivals because films that are by kids are not really taken seriously, and people think they are a joke or that the kids did not put a lot of effort into it, so it doesn’t get into the film festivals. Even some film festivals called children’s film festivals don’t really show films by kids.

What motivates you and your team to do this festival?

I am motivated to do this festival because I have gone to many film festivals before, and I have noticed that there are really no many festivals for kids; and the festivals that do exist don’t really do much for kids. When festivals do have kids categories they don’t show many films and don’t do much for the films because the focus is adults and their films. I have been to a few festivals that do better with this, but the kid films still only get a day or a small block of time. I am having this festival where the focus is the kids to give kid filmmakers a place and a festival where they will be the focus. I am starting small with a one day festival, but hopefully it will grow into more.

How has your FilmFreeway submission process been?

My FilmFreeway experience has been great! There are some days where we won’t get submissions and that gives us a chance to review films and catch up on the many that we have received. As soon as we catch up we get more submissions, but that is great. We always think we’ve been the best films, and then other people submit and you think that THOSE films are awesome too. Sometimes one person will submit multiple films, so that is interesting to see all the different ideas that one person has.

Where do you see the festival by 2020?

By the year 2020, I see the festival being a successful festival with over 300 submissions a year, and having so many people attend the festival we need a huge venue!

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

The film that I have seen the most times in my life is Pokémon movies. I actually watch a lot of movies a lot of times. I’ve watch Disney’s Aladdin a few times, as well as Disney’s The Lion King. When I really think about, I remember watching The SpongeBob Movie a lot of times. I also really like the old Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie. That’s a favorite of mines too.

In one sentence, what makes a great film?

A great film has action, comedy, adventure, good script, good actors, and good music.

How is the film scene in your city?

In Baltimore, it seems like the film scene is off and on. Baltimore was really popular years ago, and then the film scene kind of went away. I think there is only two film festivals here, and neither have a youth or kid category. Sometimes Baltimore is the location for a few scenes of a film or television show, but not a lot happens anymore. I think that is because we don’t have tax credits like other cities.

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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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