Interview with Festival Director Bill Hass (FORT WORTH INDIE FILM SHOWCASE)

The Fort Worth Indie Film Showcase (FWIFS) is going into it’s sixth year. It started as a small “boutique” showcase, designed to service local and regional filmmakers. The festival quickly grew in popularity and is now an international festival servicing filmmakers around the globe. The first year, it screened about 40 films, and they struggled to find those. In 2018, they screened around 120 films over the course of three days. They are a multi-genre fest. They screen features and shorts on a variety of topics. In their fourth year, they relocated to Sundance Square, in the heart of downtown Fort Worth. They typically present the festival in the third week of July. The dates for 2019 are July 18-20, and we are currently open for submissions.

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

Bill Hass: What we do successfully is provide a platform to grow. We are going into our sixth year and we have some filmmakers that have participated with us from the beginning. It is encouraging to see the quality of films improve over time. We take a family approach to our event. Once you participate, you’re one of us. With that we do all we can to help filmmakers grow their networks. We make them aware of other festivals, we make introductions to other filmmakers in attendance, and we set up panels and discussions to speak on specific areas of the craft.

2) What will attendees experience when they attend your upcoming festival?

We do everything we can to put a spotlight on the filmmaker. FWIFS is about each individual artist. Of course, we will show the films. Beyond that we are looking to expand the experience by offering a full day of panels on various topics. For the screenwriters, we are also looking at an opportunity to have local actors read portions of their scripts before an audience.

3) What are the qualifications for the selected films?

We look for films that tell an interesting story, films that leave you thinking and spark discussions. As a multi-genre fest, we look for and accept a wide variety of projects. We like to present a strong cross-section of films, everything from horror to comedy, and romance to faith based. The element that all of our projects have in common is a tight story, told with interesting characters.

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

The really nice thing about the independent film festival, is that all films are equal. A film that was produced with a zero budget will be considered alongside a film with a six figure budget. Each film is judged on its own merits. At FWIFS, we take every submission seriously. Every other festival I’ve dealt with does the same. That being said, as filmmakers we need to make sure we’re submitting according to the festival rules. In other words, don’t submit a feature drama to a festival that specializes in short comedies. As long as films are submitted within the guidelines of the festival I believe they are fairly considered. I think that is true for all festivals. I know that is true for us.

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

The filmmaker and the audience. Festivals like this are important to new and independent filmmakers because we provide an outlet for them to show their films. For those who attend, they also have an opportunity to engage the audience and receive valuable feedback. It’s great to see filmmakers interacting with the audience and their peers. It’s also very nice to watch and audience enjoy a film that they may not have seen or known about, except for our festival. It’s a really good feeling to know what we had something to do with making that happen. That motivates us to do it the next time.

6) How has your FilmFreeway submission process been?

FilmFreeway has made our submission process really easy. The receipt, review, and acceptance process is really simple. It’s easy for the judges. Of all the platforms we’ve tried so far, FilmFreeway has brought us the most success. Anytime I’ve had a question or a problem, I’ve been able to get help right away. They also consistently improve the platform and add features that increase the value. I am very glad we discovered FilmFreeway.

7) Where do you see the festival by 2023?

In addition to what we’re already doing, by 2023 I’d like to see us offering more workshops and panels. I’d also like to see more blocks that cater to writers and story development. Over the next five years I also want to continue fostering our relationships with schools and student filmmakers. Ideally, we’ll see a level of growth that will enable us to add another day or possibly another venue in addition to our current location.

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

The Matrix. I really enjoy the way that story unfolds.

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

Well developed characters in a well written story.

10) How is the film scene in your city?

It’s getting better. We have a new film commission that is working to bring filmmaking to Ft. Worth. There are a lot of great locations to shoot, and the Commission is really focused on building a reputation as a Film-Friendly city. Aside from ourselves, there are several other festivals that go up throughout the year, so there is a decent opportunity to catch indie films. I’m looking forward to seeing what develops here over the next few years.
 

About the Festival Director:

Bill Hass is the programming director and one of the founders of FWIFS. Bill is himself an award winning filmmaker, so he and the team present the festival from a filmmakers perspective. Bill’s journey to programming this festival was about thirty years in the making. He started as a stage actor. From there he learned to write, which led to making films. Filmmaking evolved to programming a festival. He’s been programming the festival since it’s inception, and he works to present a strong cross-section of films each year. The focus is on presenting strong character driven stories in all genres. He also looks for opportunities to mentor young filmmakers whenever possible.

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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 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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Film Festival Testimonial – Sci-Fi/Fantasy Festival

Michael Willer
Michael Willer

I had a great experience with this festival. They’re very accomodating to the filmmakers, very good about communicating, and the quality of their screenings is excellent. Their format is solid, allowing time for in depth feedback while also keeping the screening moving along without any lulls. And the screening was held at the Regal at LA Live, which is awesome. Will be submitting again!

5 Star Review

Submit via FilmFreeway, the exclusive way our festival accepts submissions.:

THE VOLUNTEER, 27min., USA, Sci-Fi/Romance 
Directed by Michael Willer  

A woman fleeing a dystopian city forms a connection with someone she cannot touch.

CLICK HERE – and see full info and more pics of the film!