Interview with Festival Director ToM Zarzecki (PLANET 9 FILM FEST)

Planet 9 Film Festival is an independent festival that features unique & interesting films made by people from all over the world. The festival will take place in THREE cities this October! In Los Angeles, Detroit & Chicago.


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

So far I think the Planet 9 Fests are bringing together groups of interesting filmmakers from both local communities and from afar. It’s bringing together individuals who could consider themselves artists or filmmakers. It creates exposure for their work in person as well as on the web. A worthwhile experience hopefully to say the least.

2) What would you expect to experience if you attend your next festival?

I intend to attend all the festivals. As long as everyone is having a good time and getting a kick out of it and or learning from the screenings. We aim to keep unique filmmakers motivated at what they’re doing.

3) What are the qualifications for the selected films?

Originality, creativity and overall execution are foremost what matters to us. I’ve seen some amazing films made from trash and I’ve seen some trash made from high budgets as well as vice versa. Whether it’s experimental art house or a heroes journey narrative, if we vibe with it and it moves us in some way, it’s in. Of course there is also other aspects we love from music score, acting, directing, and sfx. Creativity and execution are the main factors.

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

Absolutely. That’s one of the main reasons we created the Planet 9 Film Festival. We feel that the main big festivals are too damn expensive and that million dollar budgets should not classify as independent really. We also have a love for some lofi DIY films that never seem to do well in many smaller festivals. PLUS I was growing annoyed at having my own films, which I thought were cool, being denied, so we decided we needed to create a festival that was for more obscure, wacky, outsider types of films.

5) What motivates you and your team to do this festival?

See above answer + it’s part of an artistic compulsion to a degree. I love the experience of going to see films at a theatre type of environment, which seems like a dying culture in terms of quality non big Hollywood films. It’s part of a lifestyle and trying to create a community for weirdos.

6) How has your FilmFreeway submission process been?

It’s been great. The first year, I was surprised to have gotten as many submissions as we did and it was hard to keep up with them all, so this year we brought on some more help. It’s great.

7) Where do you see the festival by 2023?

The growth, stability and more fun activities and such for the screenings would be great. Creating a larger audience and having more collaboration with filmmakers working together would be dope.

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

The Star Wars movies I’m sure. The Child’s Play films probably come pretty close too. Maybe Tim Burton’s Batman.

9) In one sentence, what makes a great film?

A great film is made with passion, determination and has the viewer entranced.

10) How is the film scene in your city?

That’s a trick question, as I bounce around cities. Los Angeles is obviously still the major film capital of the world, where you have so many communities from it being a business for jobs, the corporate redundant crap that brainwashes people, to the anti-hollywood filmmakers who defy all convention for better and worse and then everyone in between. It’s vibrant, pure, tainted, and the scenery in the shots is over done.

Detroit, which is the area I’m from has a very small scene. I’ve been trying to encourage more filmmakers from Michigan to submit to the fest but, it being more of a hobby or artistic expression, I don’t think most of the filmmakers there even aspire or care to submit to fests. I feel like the best stuff is probably sitting on VHS tapes in someones basement, collecting mildew. It’s a city that’s had some of the most amazing art, music and overall creativity, but everyone is still very isolated from one another, so that’s one of my missions with the fest, I suppose.

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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 single month. And the FEEDBACK Monthly Festival held in downtown Toronto, and Los Angeles at least 3 times a month. Go to for more information and to submit your work to the festival.

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