Best of October 2018 Film Festival Interviews

These are festivals to look out for. Read interviews with the Festival Directors and learn more about them.

Interview with Festival Director Daryl Bates (A SHORT NIGHT)
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Interview with Festival Director Edward Payson (an Anti-Hero Production Genre Fest)
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Interview with Festival Director Dr. James Rowlins (Brighton Rocks Film Festival)
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Interview with Festival Director Cato ML Ekrene (The Norwegian International Seagull Short Film Festival)
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Interview with Festival Director Aleksander Sakowski (THE VISION FEAST)
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Interview with Festival Director Sally Bloom (LONGLEAF FILM FESTIVAL)
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Interview with Festival Director Pierre Cialdella (San Francisco LGBTQ Coming of Age Short Film Festival)
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Interview with Festival Director Avery Cohen (Macoproject Film Festival)
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Interview with Festival Director Gian Smith (The Black Film Festival of New Orleans)
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Interview with Festival Director Gia Frino (Wollongong Film Festival)
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Interview with Festival Director John LaBonney (DAM SHORT FILM FESTIVAL)
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Interview with Festival Director Daryl Bates (A SHORT NIGHT)

A Short Night consists of a variety of short films. The majority are produced, directed, and acted by local film talent. These films range from drama, horror to films that deal with current “hot button” issues. This event is a chance for local film makers to get their creativity and talent, in front of lovers of film.

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

Daryl Bates : Our goal for film makers is to get their projects seen. That’s our number one priority. We know there’s a ton of talent literally floating around. We want the up and comers, the dreamers, the people who never give up. Hollywood is running out of ideas for films. We are seeing a lot of retreads. What better place to find uniqueness and originality than regular everyday people.

People who have a different perspective on things. For example, one of my favorite movies is the original Paranormal Activity. It wasn’t the brain child of a Hollywood executive or the hottest screen writer. It was a regular guy who had an idea and made something special.

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

Attendees can expect a broad range of short films. Since each short is five minutes or less, festival goers will have a different experience every five minutes. One minute you could be looking at a tear jerker while five minutes later you could be fully enthralled in a horror film.

3) What are the qualifications for the selected films?

As far as qualifications, we are lax. Of course, the usual, it has to be your work, you have to have the necessary permissions, sound quality has to be sufficient. We also want to keep it as fan friendly as possible. No explicit nudity, over the top coarseness etc. But for our films, each film should be five minutes or less. We are looking for a quick dynamic story. Our goal, when the
five minute film is completed is to have our audience saying “Wow, I want to see more of that!”

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

It’s like anything else, we can’t really expect fairness. The world isn’t a fair place, it’s not right, but it’s the way that it is. A lot of film festivals aren’t immune to this reality. Film festivals are usually looking for “something” in particular. That something, in their eyes, should cater to the
main stream. If they don’t see that “something” they will probably move on. With our festival, we are looking at concepts. Concepts that can be expanded and created into something more.

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

I guess the biggest motivation is the You Tube Short that I saw a few years ago called “Lights Out” I was impressed with the simplicity of it and its originality. Obviously Lights Out went on to become a Hollywood movie, and a sequel is in the works. I’m convinced there are others out there just like it.

We know for certain, there are talented people out there. We understand that life happens, and making a living takes precedent. We want to awaken those individuals. Have those individuals keep dreaming keep pursuing. Dust off those old shorts, and let’s display them. The world needs their unique creativity. Our goal is to find that type of person.

6) How has your Film Freeway submission process been?

Film Freeway has been great so far, it has been a one stop shop for us. From tickets to submissions, to website integration. Exactly what we were looking for.

7) Where do you see the festival by 2023?

In the next five years we are planning to have more of the same. Getting exposure for more people. Like anything else we will probably have to tweak a few things, but we fully expect to have larger venues, more eyeballs on the shorts that our talented Film makers are producing, and hopefully at least a few of our shorts become major motion pictures.

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

Probably “The Shawshank Redemption” or “The Mist”.

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

Really hard to answer, lovers of film have different taste depending on mood. And different criteria based on genre. In other words, I liked the movie Avengers for different reasons than what made me like The Shawshank Redemption. But I thought they were both good films, which is why we created the five minutes or less criteria for our festival. It has the ability to cater to moods.

There is one thing that I like about films, and that’s the conflicts between characters, anything that makes the audience pick a side or makes you think. Like ‘12 Angry Men’

10) How is the film scene in your city?

Atlanta is a great film city. Quickly being regarded as the “New Hollywood.” The state has invested in creating an atmosphere to attract film makers. You’d be hard pressed to find a better place for this industry, then right here, right now.
 


Daryl Bates is a writer and director of short films. An avid movie watcher, his favorite movie genres are horror and suspense. Daryl loves to use his imagination to create powerful entertaining films.

Interview with Festival Director Edward Payson (an Anti-Hero Production Genre Fest)

This film fest was created to celebrate genre films of all kinds that tend not to have too many outlets on the festival circuit. Being filmmakers ourselves, we know the work that goes into making a film so our entry fees are low and we have a lot of rewards to give out. We are a film fest made by and for filmmakers.

Interview with Festival Director Dr. James Rowlins (Brighton Rocks Film Festival)

Brighton Rocks International Film Festival (BRIFF) was established in 2017 by a group of filmmakers, academics and creatives who love cinema and live in Brighton. The first annual screening event was held in May 2018, followed by an awards ceremony presided over by local actor Patrick Bergin. In addition to screening events throughout the year, we are preparing our second festival in June 2019.

1) What is your Film Festival succeeding at doing for filmmakers?

Connecting fearless, like-minded creatives and giving them a platform to promote and celebrate their work.

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

Buzz. Excitement in the discovery that there people out there, just like you. To kick things off, there will be workshops for filmmakers, followed by screenings of winning films. There will be an awards ceremony with statutory afterparty.

3) What are the qualifications for the selected films?

Our selection embraces films that embody the Brighton ethos – a state of mind, an attitude, a spirit that dares to be itself. Above all the filmmaker should impart a vision and express something personal of him/herself.

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

Sadly yes. Festivals are often afraid of going out on a limb to support films that don’t yet have the big laurels. We pledge to look first and foremost at the film, not a long list of stickers.

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

To do better. Experiencing the festival circuit from the other side, as a filmmaker, we’ve seen flaws aplenty – poor communication, bad organisation, etc., not to mention all those that you can’t be sure if they are bona fide. There are some good ones too, of course, but we want to be smarter than the average bear.

6) How has your FilmFreeway submission process been?

“Gorgeousness and gorgeosity made flesh, wonder of wonders, like silvery wine flowing in a spaceship” (A Clockwork Orange). So pretty good.

7) Where do you see the festival by 2023?

This will be our 5th anniversary. We hope to have made good on our pledge to become one of the UK’s main festivals for indie and underground cinema. We will host big screening events – across the city and beyond. We will be collaborating with likeminded international festivals.

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

Godard’s A bout de souffle (Breathless), as I wrote a doctoral thesis on it. Next would be Hitchcock’s Vertigo.

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

“In one word, emotion!,” to quote Samuel Fuller in Pierrot le fou.

10) How is the film scene in your city?

Brighton offers an amazing range of settings that have been used to great effect in classic films such as Quadrophenia (1979) and our namesake, Brighton Rocks (1947). Scores of talented writers and actors live in Brighton and there is a frenetic arts scene. The city often appears in television series, but it has to be said that Brighton doesn’t always punch above its weight in terms of being a prime location for feature films. One of Brighton Rocks’ missions is to raise awareness of the merits of Brighton as a place to make movies.

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James Rowlins left his native England for Paris, France, to study French cinema. His passion for visual culture subsequently took him to Los Angeles, where he earned a doctorate at the University of Southern California while learning the ropes of filmmaking. He has published articles on the French New Wave and film noir. After serving as Head of Film Studies at the Singapore University of Technology and Design, he now dedicates himself to the full-time running of Brighton Rocks Film Festival.

Interview with Festival Director Cato ML Ekrene (The Norwegian International Seagull Short Film Festival)

The Norwegian International Seagull Short Film Festival is a Film Festival with live screening, the festival also have a Live streamed award show. The Main host for 2019 is International Award winner Hector Luis Bustamante from Hollywood. They accept films/animations/documentary under 60 min. We also have a category called Best International Game.

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1) What is your Film Festival succeeding at doing for filmmakers?

Our film festival stands out that we are a festival for everyone, and the jury is made up of the best people that have the experience required to evaluate a movie. Not least because at our festival we have trophies that are specially made in pure Alleminum, which has a value of almost 800 Euro as all the winners receive.

What’s great with this festival is that we accept all movies within 60 minutes. We do not want to stop filmmakers to submit movies just because they break the game time because you can watch the festivals that have a limit of 15, 25, 35, 45 min. We also have a masterclass too that is free for the filmmakers under 18.

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

They will experience a completely different festival, but lots of people who come to views, professionals who get to know, annotated personalities from all over the world as well as Oscar winner they can talked with. We have stands, concerts and a film program that is may the best the best in the world. and we must not forget that we have live award show with main host from USA.

3) What are the qualifications for the selected films?

We search for all movies, it is the jury who decides which movie is on the program. We recommend everyone to send, but you should know that it a strong competition and the film must have a high level in production, acting and story. But in the end we want the best films, we don’t care if you have filmed it with a Red or a 8 mm Camera, just make sure you have a strong story. In the 2018 festival we had over 1200 films but only 150 were chosen.

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

Yes, I think there are many in the jury at different film festival that have too little experience and are too noisy. That’s why it was so important to bring a jury and a host who is recognized and can stand for what they have done. That the professionals can actually go in to read about them and what they’ve done. To me as a festival director, it was very important to find out that this is a festival where the jury stands for it and that it is different nationality so those who submit their movie see that we have a strong maneuver.

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

Well plan the festival for 4 years and stated it up in 2017. the planing was all, because i need the right person in the jury as the main host. But it all fall on place that we needed a festival that was for films under 60 min but with a high level of professional in the board, jury and host. So i think the best was when we found out that it was not that much festival for films up to 60 min, but now it is, but it’s a festival of a high level with a low submit cost.

6) How has your FilmFreeway submission process been?

It have been great, we have a great page, a lot of submitter and it comes in film from all over the world. We are very proud and happy for all submitter. For the festival in 2019 we have submissions from over 69 different nations.

7) Where do you see the festival by 2023?

That we have a big festival for films up to 60 min and that we have a program full of stands, films, and professional courses. Like we are today but a bigger program with films, concerts and stand and a lot of master class for the professional and guest.

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

Well there are a lot of films I like but I think my top 3 will be Aliens, Predator and The Untouchables

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

It`s all about the story, a story that touch my feelings, joy, sad, happy and pain.

10) How is the film scene in your city?

We are very proud of our city, because we do not only have short festival, we also have Norway’s biggest film festival for feature films. Our city has The Norwegian International Film Festival, known worldwide, where they award “Amanda” award. The city is called “The Film City of Norway»

 

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Interview with Festival Director Aleksander Sakowski (THE VISION FEAST)

The Vision Feast has returned with a vendetta; to showcase the world’s finest visual media. Their third year features all new awards with a lineup of world renowned Judges.

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1) What is your Film Festival succeeding at doing for filmmakers?

Our main objective is to celebrate and promote visually stunning and experimental films, and to acknowledge the hard work and talent behind those projects.

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

We are currently an online based festival, our goal within the next 2 years will be to expand into a physical screening festival that will follow our philosophy of making the experience visually interesting. As for now viewers can visit our website which we have endeavor to make it a visual experience.

3) What are the qualifications for the selected films?

Our qualifications range but in particular we look for films that make your eyes go pop, this does not mean we over look story, quite the opposite, we want the visuals to match the stories and display the film makers understanding of how the 2 complement each other.

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

I my self am a film maker and have gone to the festival market with multiple projects. I founded The Vision Feast out of frustration with other festival not really meeting my expectations, that and at the time, New Zealand did not really have anything like this. As a film maker, I felt that I was entering festivals like I was gambling. I might pay exorbitant amounts to enter a festival only to receive a email saying “thanks but no thanks” and even if I won sometimes in the festivals I entered, I wouldn’t really get anything accept a digital laurel. We are striving to move away from this culture. Having run the festival for 3 years now it is clear that programming is not easy. This year we have made it a priority to give a prize for most award. The prizes vary from Cash Prizes to Rental Prizes and others. Our entry fees are low so when you enter its like buying into a prize pool worth $10’000 nzd.

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

My original goal was to promote New Zealand projects around the world, and that still is one of my priorities but since most of our entries are from over seas Its inspiring to be inspired by the amazing artistry of the Vision Feast Submissions and celebrate the blood sweat and tears that go into each and every project.

6) How has your FilmFreeway submission process been?

Quite smooth, film freeways platform makes it easy to manage entries from all over the planet.

7) Where do you see the festival by 2023?

In the top 50 festivals, screening in LA & NZ, showcasing the best of the best brain melting visuals, I would like to expand into categories that are not usually celebrated like concept art and poster design.

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

I’m a animation geek, I also work in animation, so Id say Ghost in the Shell (1995) that movie blew my mind in more ways than one.

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

The rubix cube of arts, science, engineering and nature and how the film makers has woven those ingredients together.

10) How is the film scene in your city?

Its great, the Film crews here are world class and the infrastructure gets stronger every year.

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Interview with Festival Director Sally Bloom (LONGLEAF FILM FESTIVAL)

A free-to-attend film festival that highlights the best short- and feature-length documentary and narrative films in a place that recognizes that filmmakers and film fans DO make history—this is Longleaf. This weekend festival screens films that demonstrate a Tar Heel State connection, through the people involved in making them or through their subject. Of course, we hold near and dear all (current and former) Longleaf Official Selection filmmakers.

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 What is your Film Festival succeeding at doing for filmmakers?

Longleaf offers filmmakers the opportunity to screen at a free-to-attend festival, which allows them access to audiences who might be new to independent film. We also host panels and workshops for filmmakers that are free to attend. Finally, we work to support filmmakers throughout the year—with events, gatherings, and more, like providing meeting and collaboration space!

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

Folks attending Longleaf have choices! We screen in three spaces, so folks can review the program and select what films they want to see—for Longleaf 2018, our 73 options included narrative and documentary shorts and features, animated films, music videos, and student-made films. Attendees will also meet friendly staff and volunteers, they’ll have opportunities to talk with filmmakers, and they’ll always enjoy free popcorn.

What are the qualifications for the selected films?

Longleaf has eight categories for entries, including narrative and documentary shorts and features, animated films, music videos, a history-related theme, and middle and high school student-made films. Films must have a North Carolina connection of some sort, through the people who make them, their location, or their subject matter.

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

Because of scheduling constraints, perhaps it is harder for feature-length films at some festivals? We’re glad we have the space and time to include feature-length works.

What motivates you and your team to do this festival?

Longleaf Film Festival is a program of the North Carolina Museum of History, a free-to-attend public museum. We know that making films is making history; in fact, films have been made here since at least 1912 with The Heart of Esmerelda, and they have been made in all of the state’s 100 counties. The art and craft of filmmaking is part of North Carolina’s past, present, and future.

How has your FilmFreeway submission process been?

Submitting to Longleaf has changed over our five years. We began accepting submissions on WithoutABox and FilmFreeway and have moved to using FilmFreeway exclusively. We have rolling submission deadlines until March 1; we opened for this year’s festival in July 2018. Official Selections will be announced on April 12, 2019, and the 2019 festival will be held at the museum on May 10–11, 2019.

Where do you see the festival by 2023?

Nice question! By 2023, Longleaf will have outgrown the Museum of History (although it will always be our home base) and we’ll have expanded to other venues that are within walking distance. We’re located in the heart of downtown Raleigh and are fortunate to have terrific spaces nearby.

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

Hmmm . . . well, I have four children, so, probably, I’ve watched all the Toy Story films more times than I can count. Otherwise, I watch Harold and Maude (1971) and The Princess Bride (1987) on a regularly rotating basis!

In one sentence, what makes a great film?

A great film has a compelling story—whatever the type of film—and allows us to experience something more than the story, without knowing it until it’s over.

How is the film scene in your city?

Raleigh-—and by extension, the state of North Carolina—has a HAPPENING film scene. From the 1980s through 2014, many commercial films and television shows were made in the area. When the tax incentives changed, however, the state lost much of that industry; but, at the same time, the growth of independent film has been explosive. With film schools at our public universities and community colleges, varied and beautiful settings, and an experienced population of filmmakers and folks with film-related talents, North Carolina is a great place to make movies.

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Sally Bloom bio: Sally is a co-organizer of Longleaf Film Festival and believes in the power of independent film to make connections, to entertain, and to form community. Sally finds many connections between her “other” work for the North Carolina Museum of History and her work with Longleaf because “everything has history!” Her other work includes writing and producing videos for the museum’s website and YouTube channel, reaching students through live-streaming classes, and, oh, you know, making history cool. A native North Carolinian, Sally attended UNC and has an MA in history, along with a husband, four kids, and a lot of laundry.
 

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