Interview with Festival Director Guido Franken (Euregion Film Festival)

Euregion Film Festival offers you a festival experience with the best films from all over the world, an award show, workshops, seminars and more. Every year, a multi-day festival program will be presented. This program contains selections of films from all over the world, workshops, seminars, meeting corners, an award show and more. If your film is selected, you are automatically in the running for several prizes during the festival.

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

Guido Franken: Euregion Film Festival is a fast growing film festival in which we connect filmmakers and public and try to mix those two audiences together by creating all kinds of networking settings. Our main point of focus is to connect new, mostly independent filmmakers and we help them to get to a higher level.

Therefore we organise a lot of opportunities regarding talent development, such as multidays film schools – in which filmmakers learn from experienced experts and train their skills and develop a concrete project -, conference days, masterclasses and competitions where filmmakers can pitch and win production budgets. It’s great to see how everyone merge together and connects, shares their knowledge and boost their skills.

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

Our next edition will be in 2018, with the 2017 edition just behind us in March
of this year. We introduced new types of events, which were very succesful and
will be continued next year. As a filmmaker, you can join one of our film schools (we call them film- or documentary campus), join CineMasters (masterclasses by experienced experts on specific topics) and come to networking events and parties. For the general audience, as well als for filmmakers off course, we organise CineTalks (table talks with experienced and young filmmakers about their vision, work and life), lots of side-events – such as a Virtual Reality Cinema and music parties – and above all we show a curated selection of short- and feature films, mostly with Q&A with the director.

What are the qualifications for the selected films?

In general we accept all kinds of films, from short to feature, and from fiction to experimental, documentary or animation. We have a main focus on productions from our centre region in the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany, which is called the Muse-Rhine Euregion (that’s why the festival is called Euregion Film Festival). Our programmers really try to create a nice mix between genres, styles and topics. That’s why we are known for a very diverse, international and dynamic film program, in which it doesn’t matter how, where or what is made, as long as it has quality.

For up to date information visit:
https://filmfreeway.com/festival/EuregionShorts

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

With the growth of easy accessible submission platforms, it is inevitable that
fake festivals appears. So the only reason why films wouldn’t get a fair shake is that there are people who try to earn easy money by creating a website, open a call, collect money and never really organise a festival. That’s why platforms such as FilmFreeway are becoming more strict the last one, two years. And that
is good and hopefully will help to close down the fake festivals.

In general, I don’t believe that some films would not get a fair shake. Every
organizer I know is doing his or her job with the best intention and honesty,
watching every film that is submitted and just want to create the best festival
that is possible.

What motivates you and your team to do this festival?

We love to showcase the biggest film talents, discover new (upcoming) diamants and connect filmmakers with eachother and with the audience. A festival is a great place to create in a specific period of time and on a specific location a ‘pressure cooker’ where all kinds of magical things happen: you see talented people grow, you see different types of audience (young, old, from all kinds of backgrouns) getting touched by films created by passionate people … it is a once in a life time experience which, when performed in a good way, can change peoples lives.

How has your Film Freeway submission process been?

From all submissions platforms available, it is the one that is the most easy to use. As well for filmmakers as for festivals. The number of submissions grew
with 150% in the second year, and we just opened the call for the third edition
of Euregion Film Festival and we are very excited to again receive a lot of good
films.

Where do you see the festival by 2020?

As mentioned earlier, we are located in a unique crossborder region in the Netherlands – Belgium – Germany. Till now the festival took place in our
hometown (Heerlen in the Netherlands), but as we speak we are trying to make it a bigger event and cooperate more closely with partners across the borders.

We already attract an international audience, but I hope in 2020 the merge of
filmmakers and general audiences from all these countries (and other ones of course) has grown even more. We live in a truly unique area, which for filmmakers is a very good place to co-produce: within only 30 minutes driving
they can combine funds and incentives from three countries, eight regions and
local initiatives. There are lots of opportunities that we should make use of
more often!

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

Contrary my fellow Dutch citizens, I dó have feeling with our national cinema –
most Dutch people don’t like Dutch films at all –, and especially the work of Paul Verhoeven (now known for Elle, but also director of Basic Instinct and RoboCop for instance). His Soldaat van Oranje (Soldier of Orange) from 1977 is my all-time favorite. I think I watched it over 30 times, and it still gets better every time I see it. And that’s wat good films do: every time you see them, you discover genius (new) details or whatsoever that proves the quality of the film.

In one sentence, what makes a great film?

A great film captures or creates life in which the viewer loses himself.

How is the film scene in your city?

It is quite booming. Since five years I run a non-profit organisation which is called CineSud. We form the community of filmmakers in the province of Limburg in the Netherlands and are a fast growing and reliable platform, organising networking event, workshops, festivals and much more. We help filmmakers to develop their own skills and projects and assist them with there productions. Next to Euregion Film Festival we annually organise SHIFT Film Festival, which focuses on innovation in film in every possible way.

Besides that, in the last five years we were able to create a great infrastructure for film, with an own regional film funds (Limburg Film Fund), a Limburg Film Commissioner and lots of initiatives for talents, professionals and audience. Now we are on the edge of taking a next big step or falling down again: it is really an important period for the future of film in this region. That’s why with Euregion Film Festival we are working now very hard to make it even more ‘crossborder’ in this region, so that we can enlarge the support for
film in this crossborder region and give it even deeper, better and more steady roots. It would be a shame if all efforts that we took last years – with great results and lots of films shot in this region – would slowly vanish again.

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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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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.

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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 www.wildsound.ca for more information and to submit your work to the festival.

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Interview with Festival Director Michael York (MY Film Festival)

MY Film Festival is a brand new and exciting event which will take place in Toronto, Ontario. Our mission is to connect emerging artists with local filmmakers. We are anticipating a solid turn out with many press, bloggers, casting directors and agents to be in attendance this year. If you are a resident of ONTARIO, please get in contact with us for your free waiver code.

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

Michael York: MY Film Festival is a great way for filmmakers to get the opportunity to display their work in the biggest city in Canada – Toronto. I hope someday people can reflect on their screenings at the festival and see that it helped start/ shape or promote their career.

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

I would expect to exchange info with other great, passionate filmmakers and expand my network, as well as being inspired by great films.

What are the qualifications for the selected films?

MY film festival are looking for well written and shot films, do to an over welcoming amount of submissions our first year we look for great sound quality as well as well thought out lighting. We don’t discriminate against run and gun productions but we intrigued by unorthodox shots and seemingly flawless cuts.

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

I feel from personal experience that films that are not in english have a tougher time standing out or holding the attention of viewers due to the subtitles that can take away from the beautiful cinematography or performances.

What motivates you and your team to do this festival?

Our motivation and our goal is to be able to launch careers, we want to help people make those connections that a blind email or call may not be able to have.

How has your Film Freeway submission process been?

FilmFreeway is actually the only platform we use to promote the festival due to it’s very user friendly layout. They have done a great job of building up a strong database of filmmakers and if it wasn’t for them we wouldn’t have had a single submission.

Where do you see the festival by 2020?

I have a lot of big ideas for MY film festival, I could see it going many different directions. I had a thought that it could someday grow into an art show in a large warehouse where we would have multiple film screenings at once with different rooms dressed in different themes based on the genre of the films being shown. The viewers/festival attendees would have the freedom to sit and watch something or quietly excuse themselves to a separate room with another film playing. There are also talks about bringing in a partner who would award the winner of the best short film with one hundred and fifty thousand dollars to turn their passion project into a feature film.

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

That is a good question, I think it would still have to be Scarface. I must have watched that a thousand times when I was a kid.

In one sentence, what makes a great film?

What makes a great film for me is a well shot, captivating story with character arcs and a solid ending. (Not always a happy one)

How is the film scene in your city?

We are based out of Toronto, Ontario. The film scene here is booming! Both union and non union films are in constant rotation. We have massive tax incentives for American productions to save a buck and have access to countless great locations and industry professionals. This draws a lot of traffic, we actually have had to turn down several feature films due to lack of studio space.

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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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Interview with Festival Director Petio Petkov (DroneUp International Film Festival)

Get ready for the second edition of Europe’s funkiest drone event – DroneUp International Film Festival! Once again, DroneUp IFF will celebrate and acknowledge the world’s best drone cinematography in front of an 3000+ live audience in the magnificent ancient Roman Stadium in Plovdiv, Bulgaria.

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

Petio Petkov: We’re first and only drone film festival that is primarily a public event, focused on taking aerial cinematography out of the standard, darkened and closed theaters and making the best of it readily available to the general public at eye-level. We’ve managed to create an open platform where innovative cinematic technologies and means of expression are synergised them with the rich history present at our hosting venue, which is an astonishing 1800 year old Roman Stadium located right in the heart of the city. Personally, I am particularly happy about the fact that we not only showcase the very best of the world’s drone filmmaking but also manage to meaningfully combine them with other live performances (music, dance, art, etc) that, to me, are just as an important part of creating a happening and dynamic festival.

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

Once again, the audience can expect that we will present the world’s best drone cinematography in 6 different categories: Nature, Urban, Travel & Culture, Extreme, Narrative & Cinematic and Bulgaria (to honour our host country). This year the festival will be more interactive and allow the audience to have a first hand experience of what it means to fly a drone. We will be hosting numerous drone demos, workshops, exhibitions and competitions, which I think will be an interesting feature that we will be focusing even more on in the years to come.

Naturally, there will be plenty of live performances and surprises to spice up the package and to make DroneUp a vibrant and hip festival.

What are the qualifications for the selected films?

It’s all pretty simple actually – the short films must be shot at least 50% by a drone. And of course be super creative – there’s nothing like a new mean of expression and technology that can stir up your established views of what’s possible!

What motivates you and your team to do this festival?

We just want to provide a great and new experience to as many people as possible. I think that aerial cinematography is developing in such an interesting direction that it deserves a larger audience. And on the other hand, it’s great for the audience to experience their everyday life from a different vantage point!

How has your FilmFreeway submission process been?

It’s been great. We’re fortunate enough to have submissions from every corner of the world, despite being a “young” festival, so there really isn’t much to complain about.

Where do you see the festival by 2020?

DroneUp is held in Plovdiv, Bulgaria in relation to the city’s hosting of the European Capital of Culture in 2019. After that, the vision is to have the festival traveling each year to different city’s as they take turns in hosting the ECoC.

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

Probably Forrest Gump 😉

In one sentence, what makes a great film?

A great film succeeds in portraying the flaws, the beauty, the internal fights, the calm and storm, the interrelations in every individual – always in a relatable but magical setup.

How is the film scene in your city?

Our festival definitely makes it better 😉

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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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Interview with Festival Director Mark Brennan (Exit 6 Film Festival)

Exit 6 Film Festival is an all-day celebration of short films taking place at multiple venues in the heart of Basingstoke, UK, including Vue Cinema and The Anvil.

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

Mark Brennan: What we’re most proud of at Exit 6 is the community spirit generated on the day of the festival as all our selected filmmakers are invited to take part in an on-stage Q&A after their film has shown. The attending filmmakers not only have the oppportunity to share thoughts and experiences on the making of their film to fellow filmmakers, but they can also see exactly who it is they’d like to find in the bar after! Our festival is focussed on making the day all about the filmmakers that have worked so hard to get their project made. We appreciate each and every one and we love providing a welcoming, fun and sociable place for people to share their work. In addition to the festival itself, we also post weekly editorial content online, with interviews and articles covering a range of topics right across the filmmaking spectrum. From composers to concept designers to colourists, we aim to shine a light on every aspect of film production, especially promoting those artists working in independent film.

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

With any luck almost exactly the same as everyone who attended last year! We had a fantastic time welcoming films and filmmakers from around the world, and we’ve been very humbled by the reviews on FilmFreeway since the event that show everyone who came had a great time too. Once again, we will have guest industry speakers throughout the day, covering topics such as crowdfunding and VR filmmaking. We have also added a venue that will host talks aimed at film-lovers rather than filmmakers, so that our programme is more inclusive to our local community.

What are the qualifications for the selected films?

Our main requirement is that the duration of the film is 15-minutes or less. We accept submissions of any genre as long as they meet the duration requirement and have also been completed since October 2015.

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

The reason that we have a 15-minute limit on our submissions is that we have felt, as filmmakers ourselves, and film over that length will often struggle to get programmed – unless it’s absolutely superb and impossible not to pick. There’s a difficult balance festival programmers can face when choosing between the length of films versus the number of films they’re able to show in a given period of time. Of course, many will still accept the submission fees of hopfeul filmmakers, but we don’t think that’s fair on those who have had to raise the money to make their film in the first place. Festival runs are not cheap! That’s why we decided to be very clear from the beginning that films over 15-minutes would not be considered.

What motivates you and your team to do this festival?

Most of us are filmmakers ourselves, and have travelled a lot to other festivals around the country and the world. We’ve learned an awful lot from attending other festivals what we have enjoyed about some and enjoyed less so about others, and with no similar event near to our hometown, we wanted to create the kind of festival we’d normally have to travel hours to get to! Also, we know how much hard work goes into making a film and we really wanted to create a place where that work and those behind were really celebrated. We were already motivated by this leading up to our first festival last year, and that motivation has only been galvanised since having had that experience of hosting so many new filmmakers, many of whom we now consider friends, to do it all again this year. Everyone on the Exit 6 team is a volunteer.

How has your Film Freeway submission process been?

FilmFreeway was our platform of choice from day one. As mentioned before, many of us on the team are filmmakers so we have had experience in submitting films to other platforms in the past, but for us FilmFreeway is head and shoulders above all others. It’s friendlier to the filmmaker and it’s been great for us to use as a festival. We’re currently still open for submissions for 2017 and already our submissions have almost doubled from last year. We’re very proud to be listed in the FilmFreeway Top 100 Best Reviewed Festival list – last time I looked we were 14th!

Where do you see the festival by 2020?

By 2020 we would love to be showing feature flms as well as shorts, as well as hosting high-profile industry guests and judges. Exit 6 is currently a one day festival, but that’s something that could expand into a weekend or a few days. We’re very proud currently that the town has been very welcoming and encouraging of our event, and we’d very much like to continue that and make the festival something the whole town gets involved with and looks forward to each year.

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

There’s two answers to this. One is of my own choosing because I love it, and that’s Big Trouble in Little China. The other is not of my own choosing but because my 2-year old daughter insists on watching it 4 times a day, and that’s Wreck-It Ralph. Having said that, it is brilliant. Can’t wait for the sequel.

In one sentence, what makes a great film?

Kurt Russell.

How is the film scene in your city?

Better and growing now we’re here!

 

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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.

SUBMIT your TV PILOT Screenplay or TV SPEC Script
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Interview with Festival Director Grant Slater (SBE’s Hamilton (New York) International Film Festival)

“SBE’s Hamilton International Film Festival presents an incredible opportunity to network with other ambitious filmmakers, exchange ideas and fundraising strategies while experiencing the charm of Hamilton, New York. The Hamilton Theater is a gorgeous venue and Grant Slater has put together a 5 star festival with a great selection of film, food and local beers. This is a must-attend festival that offers more than just frivolous laurels to it’s filmmakers… one could say that you leave Hamilton with a new group of friends that offer a different perspective on making and watching movies!”
-D.J. Higgins Director, Writer/Producer Meet Mario

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

Grant Slater: When we started SBE’s Hamilton (New York) International Film Festival in 2009, we were looking to create an event where the filmmakers would get an opportunity to not only showcase their work, but also have a chance to hangout with each other and do some networking. The nice things about Hamilton is that once you are in the village everything is walking distance so the filmmakers kind of move around town in a group showing support at each others screenings and then meeting up at one of the local bars or restaurants after the screenings. Over the years there have been some great collaborations between filmmakers, but if nothing else some new friendships in a tough industry are developed at SBE’s Hamilton (New York) International Film Festival.

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

First of all Hamilton, New York is a really nice place and and was recently named one of the friendliest towns in the USA and Colgate University in the village is regularly named one of the prettiest campuses in the USA. So it is a good place to be in July. But we also always have a great group of film enthusiasts in attendance at our screenings. That is probably the biggest thing I hear from visiting filmmakers.

During the Festival week, especially Thursday to Sunday it is not uncommon to see a group of filmmakers and film fans moving around the village. It is nice to see. I always felt it was boring when you go to a screening, the filmmaker does a Q & A after the screening and then that was it. We keep the conversations going in the restaurants and bars after we leave the theaters and it gives the film fans and filmmakers a chance to get to know each other. The Hamilton community has been really supportive of the Festival.

What are the qualifications for the selected films?

This is always the most difficult part from our end. We try to have something for everyone and set up our programming so there is always a wide range of genres. The experience levels of our filmmakers range from student filmmaker to Emmy award winners. After nine years and some good reviews the number of submissions has gone way up. That makes our job more difficult on several levels. One, we want to make sure to watch every film and discuss every film. We owe it to the filmmakers. There are quite a few festival options so we want filmmakers to know we appreciate them choosing us. There is never a perfect formula in the selection process, but we try to rely on a wide range of people inside and outside the industry to help us with the decision making.

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

As filmmakers ourselves, we are very sympathetic to that notion. The thing I hear most from filmmakers is that they never really know if their film was even watched during the process. So in that regard we try to communicate with the filmmakers throughout the process. We want them to now that we received their submission, plan to to watch and give feedback. That goes for both films that we accept and do not accept.

I should note that we hit a point where we were seeing so many terrific films but we only had so much screen time so we moved to a seven day format a couple year ago so that we could accommodate more films. It still bothers us when we run into a great film but just don’t have the room to fit it into the Festival. There have been times where we did not accept a film one year, but we kept it on on radar and reached out the following year. I hope other festivals are doing the same.

What motivates you and your team to do this festival?

First of all you better love watching films. We do and it is so cool when you bring all these filmmakers together to share their work with the community. It is also super cool when you see filmmakers that attended our festival and then decide to work together down the road. That happens pretty much every year. Putting on a quality and caring Festival is hard work and very time consuming, but at the end of the day it great when it comes together. The actual Festival days are really fun. It is the stuff leading up to the Festival that is the work.

How has your Film Freeway submission process been?

Filmfreeway is so well designed. It makes life so much easier for the filmmakers and the film festivals. After about our third year, the number of submissions has really gone up. Every year we get more than the last. I think the key for us has been showing the filmmakers you care and don’t forget about them once the Festival is over. I have so many friendships that started during the festival.The Filmmakers are really our best promotors. I have always believed that since filmmakers have thousands of festival options, we better show some appreciation when they decide to submit to SBE’s Hamilton (New York) International Film Festival.

All that being said, Filmfreeway has exposed SBE’s Hamilton (New York) International Film Festival to a world of filmmakers and has played a significant role in our growth.

Where do you see the festival by 2020?

Our goal is to continue to grow. Continue to showcase a wide range of experience levels. Continue to be responsive to the filmmakers. The reality is that the bigger we get the more expensive the Festival is to produce, so as long as we can provide the quality that we are offering now, but on a larger scale, I will be happy.

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

Waking Ned Devine. Love it. Makes me laugh every time.

In one sentence, what makes a great film?

A great film should always touch your emotions.

How is the film scene in your city?

Very strong. The village of Hamilton is not a big place, but we seem to attract film enthusiasts from all over the region. We have visitors from Boston, New York, Ottawa, Toronto and quite a few other locations. Hamilton and all of Madison County is a great place to visit, but now after nine years the Festival has become a major attraction.
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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.

SUBMIT your TV PILOT Screenplay or TV SPEC Script
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Interview with Festival Director Ann Cabano (The Just Be Love Project)

The JUST BE LOVE Project is dedicated to education, awareness, and inspiring action for social justice and human rights issues through educational events and socially conscious films. Change begins with education and it is their hope to start the difficult conversations and to inspire action in the hearts of those attending this event.

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

Ann Cabano: The JUST BE LOVE Project is dedicated to education, awareness, and inspiring action for social justice and human rights issues through educational events and socially conscious films. It is my hope that this event inspires filmmakers to use their platform to bring awareness to social issues, to give a voice to the tough conversations, to advocate for the injustices humanity faces.

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

Attendees can expect to have the opportunity to acquire a new lens of perception. Beyond that, it is my hope awareness, change and healing can be a lasting result.

What are the qualifications for the selected films?

Official selections will have any social justice theme or sub-theme that can become a educational discussion.

We hope to have the filmmakers present to answer questions and when not possible we hope to have subject matter experts offer some insight.

We accept any genre of film.

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

Art in any form is personal and therefore subjective and surely the impetus behind the intention of the different festivals.

And I can only speak for my festival where every entry gets screened and judged equally.

What motivates you and your team to do this festival?

I was personally motivated to create this event because I am an advocate for humanity at heart. My background in non-profit, my personal life experiences and my passion as an educator naturally forged a path to this very moment in my life. I imagine my team is motivated by similar reasons.

How has your Film Freeway submission process been?

The process has been smooth and steady an right in line with my vision and projected pace.

Where do you see the festival by 2020?

As a new venture, I have decided to let The Just Be Love Project organically shape and grow.

We are focused on social justice and education awareness and already had the honor of being asked to work with a group of 56 high school youth that wanted to learn about human trafficking. Our partner Shanna Parker, trafficking survivor and founder of AngelsGoToWork.com helped us educate the young adults at a three hour gathering where the participants also helped us make three powerful videos by lending their voice to the topics of homelessness, trafficking and bullying.

This fall we are mentoring and collaborating with another youth group that will be making a film we will screen at a future event.

We will also be launching a non-profit leg that will do educational outreach around social justice and human rights issues.

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

I will admit that it is a tie between ‘While You Were Sleeping’, ‘Dirty Dancing’, ‘My Cousin Vinny’ and ‘Braveheart’.

In one sentence, what makes a great film?

Human connection, emotional intelligence, a quirky protagonist and a slight sense of the unreal.

How is the film scene in your city?

I would love to the film community in my city expand and grow.

We just acquired a film commissioner and hope to see an impact on our community.

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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.

SUBMIT your TV PILOT Screenplay or TV SPEC Script
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Screenplay CONTESTSUBMIT your Short Screenplay or FEATURE Script
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Interview with Festival Director Joe Sanchez (Catch & Release Showcase Festival)

The showcase is a meeting point among artists, innovators and media consumers. We aim to spark creativity for both beginners and professionals. Grab your phone and create. Together we can make this world more beautiful with our artistry.

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

Joe Sanchez: We are all about distribution. Right now our focus is for the filmmakers to find a way to stream their films to a wider audience and be able to make revenue.

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

Our goal is a traditional one given this is our first year, just aiming for a good time and that people find us memorable. And for the content to be good.

What are the qualifications for the selected films?

As long as the material is shot on an cellphone and under 20 minutes, we will consider it.

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

I’m not sure how to answer this question. I believe in general film festivals are always looking to showcase some of the best and finest in the market to be. I do believe the bigger ones; TRIBECA, SUNDANCE, SOUTH BY SOUTHWEST have monopolize. No longer about what’s next, more so what’s going to bring more celebrities. I remember when CLERKS was the biggest thing at SUNDANCE. Now, that’s not so much the case. This is why smaller festivals are needed. People forget that even film festivals have their roots.

What motivates you and your team to do this festival?

For me, personally, it has always been about helping filmmakers spread their voice. As a writer / producer myself I know that most filmmakers, if not all of them, are simply wanting to be heard. This is why creating is an outlet / a way to coop with the world. And right now that outlet is needed the most. Our festival is just another way for them to speak.

And, on a personal mission, I’m aiming to bring more social awareness about a greater cause, human trafficking. This is why we teamed up with A21. As a fighter against this global monstrosity, it’s my way to give back while implementing change.

How has your Film Freeway submission process been?

It’s been fair, first year festival have a lot to overcome. So just getting people to submit is an accomplishment on its own. And having the FilmFreeway brand behind us does give us some type of credibility.

Where do you see the festival by 2020?

By 2020 I anticipate for us to be globally recognizable and a higher attendance, just kidding. But seriously isn’t the goal always the same, it’s all about longevity. Whether this festival is still around, that’s without question. Ultimately the goal for us is to be trusted. To be one of the go to festivals where you, a. get some validity and b. be handed a distribution deal. We plan to expand to feature film submissions, at some point.

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

El Mariachi, is one of my all time favorite flicks, as Robert Rodriguez likes to refer them as. I can watch it over and over again. From a filmmakers perspective I can appreciate it for what it is, a film that visually accomplish what it set out to do with it’s minimal budget. As a writer, it’s mind blowing how he took a simple story and gave it a creative spin. And now that I’m a film festival director, I can see it’s charm. But then again, I probably always saw that, ha.

In one sentence, what makes a great film?

Simply the story. A good story can go along way.

How is the film scene in your city?

I’m in Los Angeles, so my scene is thee scene. I’m joking but I will say this though, I’ve lived in a few cities and an each one there are pockets of people doing film. And even L.A. has it’s own local scene but regardless it’s all part of the same spectrum. The struggle is very real but as long as you do your part, you take solace in knowing that you’re partaking in making your dreams come true.

 

catch and release2.jpg

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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.

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

Interview with Festival Director Omar McClinton (Various Artists independent Film Festival)

The VAiFF (Various Artists independent Film Festival) has succeeded in joining two 21st century opportunities together for filmmakers to get their films released and screened by as many people as possible.

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

Omar McClinton: First, we have eliminated the 2-year expiration policy. In most festivals if your project is older than 2 years from its completion, it is no longer eligible for the festival circuit. This is not the case with VAiFF. Blood, sweat, tears and talent don’t expire. If your film was good 10 years ago, it’s still good today. Matter of fact, we received a submission in the winter submission season that had to be transferred from VHS tape. It was submitted, and actually won its nomination in its category. It is one of the finalists this year!

The other way we succeed in creating accomplishments for filmmakers, both novice and experienced, is by giving them an opportunity to raise their fan base and social following by allowing their projects to be screened and voted for on social media, ‘liked’ and shared with a global audience that may not otherwise be able to attend the festival in person, but could eventually become a fan for life.

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

A filmmaker would expect to experience ‘opportunity’. There are no excuses as to why you shouldn’t take one more shot at getting your project out there. We’ve removed any rule hindering a filmmaker and they should take this opportunity and run with it.

We’re a first year festival. It will take time to earn the trust of other filmmakers and it will take time for us to gain the following of many of the other festivals. But we are confident that when someone, filmmaker or audience member, attends our festival they will appreciate our PROFESSIONALISM, identify with our ENTREPRENURIAL SPIRIT and respect our TENACITY in making sure we help nurture the next generation of successful filmmakers while concurrently raising our own bar each and every quarter to provide the best festival and competition experience for all involved. Those whose projects are on the screen, those who will eventually be sitting in theater seats and those working behind the scenes. We’re all lovers of film. We have to respect the art and the artists. VAiFF will do just that.

What are the qualifications for the selected films?

√ Films should be no longer than 45 minutes long (not including end credits)
√ Should fit in either category: Animation (Short), Children / Family (Short), Comedy (Short), Documentary (Short), Drama (Short), Foreign Film (Short), Horror / Thriller (Short), Music Video and TV/ Web Series Pilot.

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

If you’re asking if I’ve heard horror stories and claims of people being cheated out of their time and money when entering other festivals, yes I’ve heard of it. If you’re asking if I’ve personally been a victim of this myself as a filmmaker when I tried to enter a film festival years ago, yes, I have been. But honestly, that’s not enough to warrant a blanket statement over the entire film festival community. A few bad apples shouldn’t spoil the whole bunch. I’m not qualified to judge what does or does not happen at other festivals. I am qualified to speak to what I know. VAiFF will WATCH EVERY SUBMISSION. The board members will vote as honestly and truthfully for every submission. VAiFF will post EVERY SUBMISSION FOR ONLINE VOTING BY THE PUBLIC and provide FAIR and ACCURATE RECORDING OF VOTES. Our INDUSTRY PROFESSIONAL JUDGES will vote for who they feel is the best picture in their categories and VAIFF will honor that decision.

So many people work hard on their projects. It’s terrible to not give them the fair chance they deserve to either fail or succeed.

What motivates you and your team to do this festival?

I’ve been in the film / television industry for over 20 years. I’ve had scripts stolen from me, opportunities that should have been afforded to me based on my knowledge, hard work and effort given to someone else. I’ve learned a lot about the industry and about life. I want to share this knowledge with the next generation in the hopes that they can learn from my mistakes and shortcomings.

As one of the organizers and program directors I can’t join the festival, but I know that there are people out there like me that wish they had a ‘mentor’ or advisor. I, with the Various Artists Board members, Zernul Shackelford Jr., Zohra Hasta and Robert Parsons II, have given every opportunity we can to artists out there so the ones my age can turn back the clock, and the filmmakers of this younger generation can speed pass my missteps, and experience the career they were born to have, make movies.

How has your Film Freeway submission process been?

Film freeway has been nothing but great. I’ve had absolutely no problems with them. I hope our artists submitting feel the same. I’ve heard of no complaints. VAiFF will be using them again and for as long as we can.

Where do you see the festival by 2020?

By 2020 VAiFF will be one of the top festivals in the country. Having earned the respect of the global film community, both independent and otherwise, we will have not only afforded the opportunity to many filmmakers that had once given up hope, but we will have introduced the world to the next great filmmakers and artists and the world will be a better place because of it.

2020 will be great, but VAiFF will make sure we enjoy the journey of 2017, 2018, and 2019 just as much. We have a lot of work to do, and we’re doing it with everything we’ve got.

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

Omar’s Reply: ‘Superman, The Movie’ (1978). This is the film that made me become a filmmaker. After seeing it I had no doubt in my mind that a man could fly. When I found out that it was just ‘movie magic’. I knew I’d have to be one of the ‘magicians’ for the rest of my life.

In one sentence, what makes a great film?

A great film must be great from start to finish, not total running time, but from concept and development to sound mixing and color correction to theatrical sound systems and the smell of popcorn and comfortable seats.

How is the film scene in your city?

Chicago has dipped its toe in the film community for many years. It comes and goes in waves. Right now things are going very well in Chicago and the very talented and special crew and actors continue to make me very proud. Things are great in Chicago and I hope it stays that way for a long time.
 

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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.

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

Film Review: THE BIG SICK (USA 2017) ***

Deadlines to Submit your Screenplay, Novel, Story, or Poem to the festival: http://www.wildsound.ca

the big sickA couple deals with their cultural differences as their relationship grows.

Director: Michael Showalter
Writers: Emily V. Gordon, Kumail Nanjiani
Stars: Kumail Nanjiani, Zoe Kazan, Holly Hunter

Review by Gilbert Seah
 
When Kumail sees the girl he is dating, Emily in a coma in the hospital, he tells himself that if she ever gets out of this, he would marry her. It would be difficult for one not to feel for this romantic affair, especially when the incident is true. This is what differentiates THE BIG SICK from most romantic comedies. THE BIG SICK is based on the real-life courtship between Kumail Nanjiani and his now-wife, Emily V. Gordon. Nanjiani plays himself using the same first name in the film while Emily is played by Zoe Kazan. Hi real wife co-wrote the screenplay with her husband for the film.
The film project began when producer Judd Apatow (KNOCKED UP) met Nanjiani after he did his stand-up comic routine. So, there are a lot of stand-up routines in the film. In fact, a lot of the dialogue spoken during the film would be typical of what comes out of the mouths of a stand-up comic. This is here a good thing, as the film is pleasantly funny from start to end – dialogue-wise.

Despite the film based on true events and a real life Kumail, the romantic comedy falls into the same trap that most fall into. THE BIG STICK is a predictable Harlequin romance paperback type story complete with awkward first meeting, the necessary obstacles, in this case Emily finding out about Kumail’s other dates from the photographs in his box, not to mention her coma and his objecting parents. These obstacles are conveniently overcome for the couple to live happily ever after.

The film’s story is simple enough. While Kumail is performing stand-up comedy on stage, he is heckled (though she insists is a good heckle) by Emily, there as a spectator. An affair slowly develops. Meanwhile Kumail’s mother keeps setting him up for a Muslim bride. Kumail keeps this from Emily, though she finds out. Emily goes into a coma due to a rare decease and Kumail meets her parents forming a bond with them. It does not take a genius to figure out what happens in the end.

The film’s funniest parts come from Kumail’s Muslim parents. The mother is constantly trying to matchmake her son to marry a Muslim girl. The father is more tolerant but no less funny. Emil’s parents are funny too but they bring a more serious side to the film. The unexpected bonding between Emily’s parents and Kumail add a nice unexpected twist to the story.

The film’s humour is also heightened by having several other standup comics deliver their stand-up acts during throughout the film.

The film ends with shots of the real couple Kumail and the real Emily during the closing credits. THE BIG SICK is one of the better romantic comedies, credit to producer Apatow who seems to have the knack of discovering new comedy talent.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jcD0Daqc3Yw
 

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Deadlines to Submit your Screenplay, Novel, Story, or Poem to the festival:http://www.wildsound.ca

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