Interview with Festival Director Bob Cook (Central Florida Film Festival)

Fun filled three day event in Ocoee, Florida (15 minutes from Disney World) over the Labor Day weekend (September 1-3, 2017). Networking opportunities, panel discussions, screenings on three screens, excellent award show with guest presenters. Hotel venue walking distance to theater venue. VIP cocktail party and brunch.

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

Bob Cook: Networking! When filmmakers attend a festival they know where their current film is but where is their next project coming from. We have VIP networking events that matches writers, with directors, producers, and other craftsmen.

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

We have festival screenings on three screens at the West Orange Cinemas and a Filmmaker Lounge right opposite the theater to meet and chat with others. We also have a stage area in a separate venue for panels and on Saturday a “Pitchfest” where filmmakers can give an “elevator pitch” to two accomplished Hollywood Producers. Let’s not forget our evening networking parties at our hotel venue the Fairfield Inn and Suites in Ocoee, Florida.

What are the qualifications for the selected films?

There are no set limitations to films that are accepted. There are ten categories including performance, camera work, sound, story/script, edit, production value, sound, pace & structure, lighting, and directing. Five initial judges watch each film and score each category 1-10. We look for films above the 70 mark our bar us usually 75. Scoring 75 gets you an “Official Selection” and your film is seen by five different judges (same scoring process except the high and low score are dropped). The top eight films move on to the final round where five additional judges screen the film (high and low dropped) and the accounting firm of Dave Cole, CPA and Associates tabulates the final scores and on the award night the five finalists and winner are announced. Categories include, Best Foreign Project, Documentary, Student Film (aka Paul Leder Award with a $2500 prize), Dramatic Short, Comedy Short, Feature, Florida Project and Audience Choice.

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

Not in our festival by the time the finals are announced fifteen different judges watch the film. I don’t know how the other festival do it but I take the no one watched my film out of the equation.

What motivates you and your team to do this festival?

Networking. We get to see our industry contacts each year and show them new filmmakers and at the same time pitch my own if I have a project. We bring in Producers, Directors, Distributors and other industry people that have been around since the video days.

How has your Film Freeway submission process been?

FilmFreeway has been so easy that we have dropped withoutabox altogether. Our judges love it because they can score online and I love it as they keep and accurate accounting daily. It’s relatively new and they are always coming up with new ways to connect filmmakers with a festival. You can even sell tickets through their site now.

Where do you see the festival by 2020?

Our festival won’t change much as we have found the proper mix which filmmakers and industry people love. If anything I see the festival moving from Ocoee, Florida to Mount Dora which a bit more centrally located to the state.

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

Unfair question as there are a couple of films I always watch when I direct a film. If it’s character driven in a small space I watch JAWS. Three characters on a boat and the camera and actors always seemed to be moving. For ensemble work and action I study John Ford’s work FORT APACHE. Take a look at the shots with seven or eight people in the scene (frame). Each one is in perfect light. Those were the “good ol’ days.”

In one sentence, what makes a great film?

A good story told by an excellent storyteller.

How is the film scene in your city?

Hollywood will on occasion come to town to use Orlando as a location but the Indies are on their own in town. Not as much support as we would like which is another mission for the festival. Miami is a different story but at the festival this year we have several shorts and two really good features make by local filmmakers and support staff.

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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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