Interview with Festival Director Otessa Ghadar (DC Web Fest)

The DC Web and Digital Media Festival highlights the best of the web. The festival goes beyond web series to include various forms of digital media, such as Short Films, Screenwriting, and Game/App development. The MISSION of this festival is to Entertain, Educate, and Promote these new and innovative art forms.

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

Otessa Ghadar: The DC Web Fest is a great platform for independent digital media creators to showcase and promote their work. We have a total of six categories: web series, digital shorts/trailers, games, apps, AR/VR, and blogs/scripts. At the festival, shows have been picked up for distribution. Some of our web series have moved on to television and many of our games have moved on to major consoles like Xbox, PlayStation 4, and Nintendo Switch. The DC Web Fest is also a place where industry players come in search of exceptional content.

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

I would expect to experience a wide range of digital content in addition to educational panels where I can learn from industry professionals, from writers, directors, and producers to digital marketing experts, podcasters, and IP law professionals. I would expect to meet many like minded creatives and form meaningful, productive relationships. Mostly, I would expect be uplifted, entertained, and educated with the best of indie digital content.

3) What are the qualifications for the selected films?

The main elements we look for are strong original story with conflict and character arc, production quality, and strong editing. There are specific criteria that can be found on our FilmFreeway page through https://dcwebfest.org/submit.

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

As a woman and minority owned organization, the DC Web Fest is devoted to inclusion and diversity. There is definitely division and underrepresentation, which need to be addressed. That’s why we are currently working on a side project (Analyzing Diversity in Media) that collects data to highlight the various issues with diversity in media. Please help us make a difference by taking just a few moments to complete our questionnaire! Here is the link: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSdVdyT5Up16Mm-jed0CZKAiJ52iVQXkn3Z4KMANuAYEbopS8g/viewform

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

Indie creators need to know that there are platforms that freely welcome their ideas that are rejected by Hollywood. The indie community is like a family, and we need to all ban together to keep the indie spirit strong. DC is a vibrant city full of creatives. We want them to know that there is a place to call home. They don’t have to travel to the major markets (i.e. LA and NY) to tell their stories. They can tell their stories right here- in DC where many are hungry for authentic, creative digital content. Each year, our creatives have shown their gratitude and many continue to excel.

6) How has your FilmFreeway submission process been?

Our experience with FilmFreeway has been quite positive. It would be great if we could make the process more personalized. But since our inception (year 1), we’ve seen submissions increase by a multiple of 20.

7) Where do you see the festival by 2023?

By 2023 we will be showing work that our minds haven’t yet conceived of…and that’s just how we like it. The future is in our blood over here.

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

We were film majors! Where shall we begin?! The Graduate (just to name one). We can send a spreadsheet of our favorite films if you would like.

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

A strong storyline with a clear, concise goal, conflict, and characters who progress throughout make a good film. sometimes the conflict or goal need not be so clearly defined. Sometimes, a strong story, with meaningful characters can hit a nerve and unite a viewership. It’s not so cut and dry. There is a structure, but there is also more than that. It’s all about knowing “the rules”, then knowing how and when to break them.

10) How is the film scene in your city?

DC is full of energetic, passionate filmmakers and storytellers. There are other festivals that also serve as platforms for local filmmakers to showcase and promote their work, such as the DC Black Film Festival. DC Web Fest founder, Otessa Ghadar, serves on the advisory board of the DC Black Film Festival. DC Shorts is another popular local film festival.

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