Interview with Festival Director Mark Schwab (Diamond in the Rough Film Festival)

Organized by independent film production company Diamond in the Rough Films, their 3rd annual film festival wants to highlight the TRULY independent film. Even if it is “rough around the edges” or just plain out there. The filmmakers who scrape and sweat to put a good movie together against all odds. They want films that take risks, not hollow 4K mirages.


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

Mark Schwab: I hope it does a few things. 1. Gets their film some needed exposure and feedback, 2. Meeting other filmmakers attending the festival, 3. Meeting us at DITR Films and having us as a resource, 4. Provide them with distribution opportunities.

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

A fun weekend of truly independent films (from short films and docs to feature films and docs) that you can’t see anywhere else (at least not easily) in a great theater with a big screen, digital projection and popcorn with real butter!

What are the qualifications for the selected films?

Mainly that it is something we haven’t really seen before. We don’t care much about budget or premiere status or even the year it was made. If it’s truly different and made with passion….it’ll get our attention.

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

Maybe a little bit. I think the big festivals (i.e. Sundance, Toronto, SXSW) take fewer risks in curating because they have massive overhead to cover. Ergo, a decent film with a “name” in it will get accepted over the awesome indie film with no names in it. But it’s ok….that’s what we are here for. 😉

What motivates you and your team to do this festival?

To encourage filmmakers to keep making movies. To give them a chance to see their work on a big screen. And especially to expose audiences to movies outside their regular comfort zones.

How has your Film Freeway submission process been?

Just excellent. Very responsive to questions and their interface is literally one of the best I have ever seen. It makes you want to interact with it.

Where do you see the festival by 2020?

I’d really love to be able to afford more days of screenings to show even more films. I’d like to see it run for a week instead of just a weekend.

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

Wow…never really thought about it. I’m going to guess 2001: A Space Odyssey.

In one sentence, what makes a great film?

A great film is one that absorbs your visual and auditory senses fully while simultaneously engaging your soul.

How is the film scene in your city?

Unsettled. The South Bay Area used to be a major movie city but with rents/leases being so prohibitive it is difficult to keep a true art scene alive. Movie theaters are having a very tough time staying alive when developers are so greedy to turn them into offices or luxury condominiums.

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

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