Interview with Festival Director Cristyn Steward (Columbus Black International Film Festival)

The primary objective of the Columbus Black International Film Festival is to showcase Black filmmakers locally, nationally and internationally, while highlighting a spectrum of stories told by people of the African diaspora.

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

Cristyn Steward: The Columbus Black International Film Festival (CBIFF) is a movement that centers positive media representations of African American and African Diaspora communities. It provides a unique platform in Columbus, Ohio, to showcase films that are often not at the forefront of the mainstream film festival circuit, especially at the local level. This festival’s goal is to show the value of independent black cinema and highlight the importance of black filmmakers being in charge of their own narratives.

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

In its inaugural year, the festival is setting the stage for a culture shift in Columbus. There will be three days of entertainment featuring 28 films from around the world. There will also be many moments for black filmmakers to network and build community. Festival workshops will also be featured to engage new and intermediate filmmakers to cultivate local talent.

What are the qualifications for the selected films?

This mission of the Columbus Black International Film Festival is to unapologetically uplift media representations of the African American and African Diaspora experience. All films submitted to the festival were required to feature black filmmakers in front of and behind the camera. A jury featuring black filmmakers, business owners and media critics rated the films based on creativity, direction, cinematography and acting, among other things. Films were also required to feature a valuable story uplifting the African American and/or the African Diaspora experience.

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

Black voices have a long documented history of being ignored or suppressed in mainstream film. Many films that feature marginalized communities aren’t given their just due. There are many reason why this is. Our society has been built on structural oppression and the idea of uplifting certain voices over others. This of course also plays out in the film industry as well. Luckily there are many niche festivals that now uplift marginalized voices, from the American Black Film Festival in Miami to the OUTFest Film Festival in Los Angeles. The Columbus Black International Film Festival is simply creating space to fill a similar void in Columbus, Ohio.

What motivates you and your team to do this festival?

The motivation for the CBIFF Board of Directors and Staff to do this festival is to start a movement and uplift black filmmakers in Columbus in an unprecedented way. My personal passion comes from how beneficial this film festival can be to the City of Columbus, its artists and its filmmakers. Nothing like this has been done before and we want to make sure we create something that is truly lasting.

How has your FilmFreeway submission process been?

I am a strong advocate of FilmFreeway. It is very easy to navigate and they have created new additions to make film festival management much more convenient and efficient. I think it was because of FilmFreeway and its reputation among filmmakers that we were able to garner 81 submissions in our first year.

Where do you see the festival by 2020?

Once the festival makes it to its fourth year in 2020, we hope that it will become a staple statewide and nationally for black film. We hope to have doubled our submissions by then and will have expanded the festival to a week-long series of showcases and workshops hosted in various neighborhoods throughout the city.

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

Being a film nerd, I don’t think there is just one, but I would have to say “Crooklyn” or “Baby Boy.” During my “starving artist” period as a film student living in San Francisco without cable, I couldn’t stop watching these movies.

In one sentence, what makes a great film?

It’s quite simple, a valuable story that universally touches everyone who watches it. It’s simply put, but very hard for even the best filmmakers to accomplish.

How is the film scene in your city?

Columbus will surprise you. It has a growing film scene with many new filmmakers coming out of The Film Studies Program at The Ohio State University and the Columbus College of Art and Design who are looking to build more opportunities locally. There are several popular film festivals here, including the Columbus International Film + Video Festival, the LGBT Fest and the Columbus Jewish Film Festival. There are also several filmmakers that have set up successful production companies, including our 2017 Keynote Speaker, Mark A. Cummings’ Awalkonwater Entertainment, which has sold out several theaters in the city for his films because of his unique approach to creating universally comedic films that feature black actors and filmmakers, and expertly highlights the black experience.

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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 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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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.

SUBMIT your TV PILOT Screenplay or TV SPEC Script
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FULL FEEDBACK on all entries. Get your script performed

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.

SUBMIT your TV PILOT Screenplay or TV SPEC Script
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Screenplay CONTESTSUBMIT your Short Screenplay or FEATURE Script
FULL FEEDBACK on all entries. Get your script performed

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.

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