Interview with Festival Director Emi Onishi (UPTOGOOD Impact Film Festival)

Combining a traditional student film festival with a powerful online platform built for video-driven social impact campaigns, UPTOGOOD Impact Film Festival asks students to produce and share videos / short films that can catalyze positive social change by highlighting social issues and solutions in their communities—and to use our film festival to amplify that impact.

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

Emi Onishi: Our film festival succeeds at helping students promote and celebrate the art of impact storytelling, producing, and campaigning for social impact. With our online platform, built in community, and incredible media sponsors we are able to amplify the winning films and help bring more attention to the causes the filmmakers are addressing in their films and campaigns. Submission deadline is 4/5/17 and festival passes are now available at UPTOGOOD Impact Film Festival

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

UPTOGOOD Impact Film Festival is a day-long event with film screenings, panel discussions and networking events that allow students, filmmakers, activists, nonprofits and practitioners to gather at the intersection of storytelling and social impact.

What are the qualifications for the selected films?

Eligible Applicants are U.S. high school students, college and film school students with a <10-minute video detailing a social issue that matters to them, and the steps one can take to make that issue disappear, submitted via online platform,

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

There is a lot of competition out there. Films are easier to make these days. The equipment and resources are readily available to most people. In many ways, you have to really submit your best work to film festivals in order to heighten your chances of being accepted into one.

With our festival, we focus primarily on social impact cinema. We live in an increasingly digital world with tools to mobilize a crowd. Millennials are the most cause-centric generation yet. It’s very exciting to see so many documentaries and social impact films being submitted. We do our very best with our staff and judges to make sure each film is watched and judged properly.

What motivates you and your team to do this festival?

There is a growing need to champion GOOD in today’s challenging world. We all care about what’s going on in the world and want do something good and make it a better place. A chance for meaning. We are inspired by the work of amazing storytellers and their ability to move people. We wanted to create a festival and platform where young storytellers can raise awareness on social issues and influence people’s perspectives to encourage debate and inspire actions on social issues. We believe impact and change can happen in numbers. it’s not always one person taking monumental action. It can actually be as simple as lots of people taking a little bit of action too. That is momentum, that is how things move, that is how we make an impact and arrive at a world that is UPTOGOOD. We’re looking forward to seeing as many people as possible getting UPTOGOOD with us even outside of the festival through

The film festival offers a unique and timely intersection of social impact campaigning and video storytelling, while providing attendees with the chance to hear from speakers or professional organizations that are pioneers in the field.

Statistically, millennials are not only the largest, most educated and most diverse population in the United States, but they are also the most politically active and socially aware. A 2014 study by the White House Council of Economic Advisers has found that Millennials are the largest generation in the United States. Yet another study by the PwC Council of Economic Advisers has found that Millennials are the most diverse and educated in American history. On average, they also value the opportunity for positive social impact for their children, communities and society as a whole.

In short, millennials want to save the world — one person at a time. Our film festival is a gateway for them to voice their opinions and initiate real change.

How has your FilmFreeway submission process been?

It’s been very helpful in getting our film festival the attention it needed. This is our inaugural year so we were really focused on our submission call. Having our film festival listed on FilmFreeway allowed us to receive many great films and campaigns from around the U.S.

Where do you see the festival by 2020?

We hope to be reaching more people and creating large movements that can meaningfully affect communities and the world through the festival.

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

Any and all social impact films #StoriesThatMatter. We are strong believers in the power of storytelling and its ability to move people to foster new ideas, dialogue, empathy and reflection for social impact together.

In one sentence, what makes a great film?

A great film is memorable and has a story that had to be told through the medium of film.

How is the film scene in your city?

Bustling and busy! The UPTOGOOD Impact Film Festival runs out of Los Angeles which is the movie-making capital of the world. In addition to having Hollywood in our backyard, we are closely connected to an incredibly large community of social impact storytellers and documentarians.


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 for more information and to submit your work to the festival.

SUBMIT your TV PILOT Screenplay or TV SPEC Script
Voted #1 TV Contest in North America.
Screenplay CONTESTSUBMIT your Short Screenplay or FEATURE Script
FULL FEEDBACK on all entries. Get your script performed
Screenplay CONTESTFIRST SCENE (first 10pgs) Screenplay CONTEST
Submit the first stages of your film an

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