Interview with Festival Director Ivan Wiener (Albuquerque Film & Music Experience)

 
AFME brings award-winning filmmakers, screenwriters, musicians, artists, distributors, industry experts, producers, casting directors and visionaries together from around the world to celebrate the art of storytelling and collaborate into the future.

Their Mission:
The AFME Foundation brings together world-renowned and local filmmakers and musicians with high school and college students to provide educational and cultural opportunities. We support Albuquerque becoming an epicenter for film, music and the arts.
 
http://www.abqfilmx.com/

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

Ivan Wiener: Providing a platform to share their work with a vast audience including distributors, other filmmakers and industry members. Introducing filmmakers to other attendees where future collaboration, either personally or professionally, goes from a possibility to a reality.

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

Attendees will experience an amazing blend of movies, music and the arts throughout the week where celebrity and industry professionals are just a smile and a handshake away. The cool thing about AFME is the access everyone has to one another. Attendees also experience some of the top hospitality of any film festival in the world. Our staff treats everyone like family throughout AFME.

What are the qualifications for the selected films?

Out of hundreds of films submitted to our festival, the selected films have to stand out with production value and story line and leave the audience wanting more. We take pride in screening the best films that come our way through the submission process and supporting the filmmaker’s desire to screen their project in front of an intelligent, hip and appreciative audience.

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

I think there are many festivals that are known to hand pick movies that they know will draw distributors immediately. Our screening team takes great pride in watching every movie submitted and having open discussions about the quality of movies. With 45-50 films selected for our program, we take great care in selecting movies with the top production value.

What motivates you and your team to do this festival?

We are motivated by our non-profit’s mission and vision of bringing together world renowned and local filmmakers and musicians with high school and college students to provide educational and cultural opportunities. The more success we have at the festival, the more scholarships we offer to students of film, music and the arts. We are always happy to have celebrities who believe in our mission come along for the ride each June. This year, T Bone Burnett, Jeff Bridges and many others will be in attendance.

How has your FilmFreeway submission process been?

FilmFreeway has been a wonderful submission platform. Easy to use, with tools that give great exposure to our event.

Where do you see the festival by 2020?

We see AFME expanding to more areas of the city and offering a summer institute for talented high school and college students of film, music and the arts.

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

Jaws. Every time it is on television, I can’t help but watch it.

In one sentence, what makes a great film?

A great film is a unique and engaging story that evokes emotion from beginning to end.

How is the film scene in your city?

The film scene in Albuquerque is one of the best in the world. Being one of the top production destinations due to the State incentive, there are weekly events throughout the city that focus on film. Local and international filmmakers love Albuquerque because of its unique vibe and focus on film.

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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 Tiger Moon (THROUGH MY EYES)

TRIBE Project presents Through My Eyes, a festival of short films created by indigenous minorities from all over the world. The films range from narrative triumphs to poignant documentaries and vivacious animations. Collectively, these are stories of resistance, courage, and hope.

http://tribeproject7.com/

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

Tiger Moon: Through My Eyes is showcasing independent short films from all over the world — specifically, from filmmakers who consider themselves members of indigenous minorities worldwide. The festival includes films from six continents, celebrating “indi-geniuses” whose work is often overlooked by the mainstream film industry.

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

We hope that every audience member learns something s/he never knew before, temporarily experiencing the world through the eyes of a stranger whose culture may be completely unfamiliar — and opening his/her own eyes to the lives of the planet’s overlooked indigenous populations. Ideally, our audience will come away with a new understanding of the word ‘indigenous’ (meaning ‘of the land’) that encompasses the original inhabitants not only of North America, but of the world at large.

What are the qualifications for the selected films?

The festival features a wide range of short films — “from narrative triumphs to poignant documentaries and vivacious animations.” Our only up-front qualification is that filmmakers identify as belonging to an indigenous population in their country of origin. But beyond that, we also consider this an activist’s film festival, and have curated our program to fulfill that goal. In an era marked by intense cultural conflict both at home and abroad, it seems more important than ever to create a platform for under-represented artists to express themselves — and Through My Eyes reflects that need.

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

In fact, that is exactly why Through My Eyes exists in the first place — to fill a hole that we, as indigenous artists, often feel — not only in film festivals, but in the media at large. There’s a huge ‘representation gap’ when it comes to ethnic minorities in general — moreover, the film medium is often dominated by a ‘Westernized’ or ‘colonial’ narrative style, which delegitimizes the diverse forms storytelling takes worldwide. We’re here to create a space where under-represented artists — specifically, artists belonging to global indigenous populations — can tell their own stories in their own ways.

What motivates you and your team to do this festival?

As a team of American indigenous artists, we’re really creating an opportunity for ourselves and other people like us. But in the process, we’re attempting to share that opportunity with other artists — who (while their artistic needs may not be exactly the same as ours), certainly suffer the same lack of representation in the film industry.

How has your FilmFreeway submission process been?

FilmFreeway has been a godsend! In contrast with previous platforms we’ve used, FilmFreeway has been amazingly intuitive and user-friendly. We’ll never look back!

Where do you see the festival by 2020?

This is our first year, and we’re extremely grassroots at the moment — we’re feeling our way through the process to a certain extent. If all goes as well as we hope it will this year, we’d like to expand the scope of the festival to include features as well as shorts, and to occupy several locations throughout the city. Over the next few years, we’re also planning to reach out to some of the world’s most under-represented populations — populations that may not yet have the resources to represent themselves on a global stage. If there’s an artist or storyteller in a remote village somewhere who would like to use the film medium to express him or herself, but isn’t sure where to start… TRIBE can provide equipment and, where necessary, the training to use it — and then use the festival to provide a pathway directly to the screen and the world stage. On a similar note, we’re currently working with three young Native American people living on Indian reservations throughout the U.S., teaching them the art of filmmaking from the ground up. During the coming year, we’ll be flying the participants out to Los Angeles to continue their education ‘on the ground’ from some of the best in the business. Next year’s festival will feature these up-and-coming artists’ debut films. Moving forward, we will also be expanding that program to include a larger group of young people… By 2020, we imagine we’ll be dedicating an entire day of the festival to our junior TRIBE.

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

Between the two of us in this room: I Heart Huckabees (Tiger: “Lots of great existential undertones”) and Labyrinth (Jenny: “David Bowie and Muppets. No further explanation necessary.”)

In one sentence, what makes a great film?

A great film shows you something you recognize in a way you’ve never seen before.

How is the film scene in your city?

We’re in L.A. — the film capital of the world! We’re literally surrounded by the Industry — in terms of film, if you can’t find it here, it generally doesn’t exist. So the fact that we haven’t seen any other festival quite like this before is exactly why we’re doing this. We saw a need, and we’re working to fulfill it.

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TRIBE Project bio:
TRIBE (The Reason I Become Evident!) is a grassroots organization that strives to create a
sustainable platform for indigenous artists living in Los Angeles. The group is a passion project of Native American artist and activist Tiger Moon. Moon says: “As an actress and filmmaker, I have seen the opportunities the film medium provides to heal through storytelling. I see a chance to educate people about my culture in a stimulating, visual way.”

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 Joel Knain (Azalea Film Festival)

 The Azalea Film Festival’s first goal is to acknowledge and award the many talented independent filmmakers, writers and performers who may not get the recognition they deserve through many commercial film festivals. The AFF recognizes filmmakers who demonstrate exceptional achievement in craft and creativity. All genre of films and music videos are accepted by AFF. Awards will be distributed, giving filmmakers, writers and actors the opportunity to be noticed. First place films of each category will receive an award trophy plus special recognition for the overall all Best Film.

http://www.azaleafilmfestival.com/

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

Joel Knain: One the biggest problems that filmmakers encounter is not realizing their dream of seeing their work on the big screen. Seeing it on the big screen is really a learning experience that we give to every film we select. There is a huge difference from watching it on your 24 inch computer monitor when you are editing it to seeing it projected on a 40 ft tall screen. It’s what every filmmaker wants for their film.

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

A wide variety.. Love stories, horror, comedy… Our selections come from all over the world including Australia, China, Mexico, Canada and France, to name a few. Plus, our films come from a diverse level of experience too. Some are in film school, and some have a fantastic resume in the industry already. It’s really awesome to see how each interpret the world.

What are the qualifications for the selected films?

First, they have all been completed after 1/1/2016. They have to be technically good. Poor sound, terrible lighting or framing, or bad editing will get you cut almost immediately, without question. Then the story comes into play. We want to be engaged when we watch a film.

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

I think most get fair deal in the smaller festivals. I don’t know about some of the larger festivals. Maybe they cater a little more to the marketing side of the business.

What motivates you and your team to do this festival?

Two things. First, we are filmmakers too. We went to a festival nearby and the format was a little different and we thought, well, maybe we can do it better. We wanted to have a fair, equal playing field for all films. Secondly, we are a non-profit and we utilize the net proceeds to help children and their families who are affected by autism. Autism affects 1 in 68 children born every day with no cure… Children can only adapt to life. So we give back to help those children.

How has your FilmFreeway submission process been?

FilmFreeway has been awesome for us. It’s fast, simple and we wouldn’t do it any other way. I’m glad we went exclusively with them.

Where do you see the festival by 2020?

Wow… that seems so far away. I hope that by 2020 we expand from a 2 day in one theater event to 5 or 7 days and multiple theaters. We are also looking into ways to showcase our films via other avenues of delivery.

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

If I had to guess, it would be Star Wars IV, A New Hope. I saw it in the theater when it was originally released and it was fantastic. Personally, I try to watch as many films as possible, and more than one time. Good and bad. You can learn so much from them. What works and more importantly, what doesn’t.

In one sentence, what makes a great film?

A great film is one that transports me inside the film, allowing me to escape for 90 minutes.

How is the film scene in your city?

Mobile has been growing in the film industry. Some or all of older films such as Close Encounters of a Third Kind and Under Siege were filmed here. More recently, a string of Nicholas Cage and Bruce Willis films came through in 2014-2016 and Jean Claude Van Damme just wrapped up filming last week. Our city offers a variety of landscapes for filmmakers to choose from. The Gulf of Mexico is right at our doorstep. And more importantly, the people love to see these filmmakers come in to town and welcome them like family.
 

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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
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Interview with Festival Director Miguel Sevilla (CINEMATOGRAFO INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL)

The CINEMATOGRAFO Originals Contest gives voices to emerging Filipino filmmakers from around the world. It is an annual competition that provides seed grants worth up to $100,000 for full-length features, either documentary or narrative.

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

Miguel Sevilla: Our festival centers in on a new generation of Filipino-American filmmakers who offer a different perspective owing to their different upbringing and experiences. Our festival aims to showcase this new generation and put them on the world stage, along with the best of the world.

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

Attendees can expect to experience new visions, new perspectives and new stories from a generation of storytellers that are part of the Filipino diaspora. Filipinos are one of the most migrant populations in the world and can be found in all corners of the world where they thrive in any industry.

What are the qualifications for the selected films?

As mentioned, we are looking for stories from the Filipino diaspora. The themes and genre may vary but what is important is that the filmmaker is part of the migrant Filipino generation, growing up and experiencing a different kind of life abroad from other Filipinos.

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

Over the years, we’ve seen a lot of niche film festivals launch alongside the major festivals. While the big ones showcase the elite art house content, that’s not to say that there is no market for films with a unifying theme or specialized content. The reality is that you can only program so much into a festival, and every film can’t be in Cannes or Sundance. But it’s a big world, a diverse world – and so are the stories in it. And as long as there is interest, there will be an audience. And festivals offer that platform where the audience can find those movies.

What motivates you and your team to do this festival?

Until now, there has been no institution that has given production grants solely to Filipino-American filmmakers. Our team’s passion is fueled by the Filipino’s passion for storytelling, wherever they may be in the world. And it’s about time we put that passion front and center.

How has your FilmFreeway submission process been?

Overwhelming. We received four times the number of submissions we expected and thus, are truly grateful for everyone who showed their support for the festival

Where do you see the festival by 2020?

Aside from being the premier Filipino-American film festival, I see the festival branching off into educational, training and technical support for all Filipino filmmakers outside the Philippines. I see the festival as a resource for all storytellers, unifying them into a vibrant community.

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

Chinatown by Roman Polanski

In one sentence, what makes a great film?

More than escapism, any film that makes you consider a point of view that you never had before and conveys empathy for a character that is truly opposite from who you are is most likely a great film.

How is the film scene in your city?

Incredibly diverse. The Bay Area is a melting pot for different cultures and the interests of moviegoers vary to a great degree.

 

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Interviewee Miguel Sevilla. Screenwriter, novelist and filmmaker, born and raised in the Philippines. Now based in California. Made directorial debut in 2008 with Cul de Sac. Nominated for FAMAS (Filipino Academy of Movie Arts and Sciences) in 2010.

 

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
Voted #1 TV Contest in North America.
Screenplay CONTESTSUBMIT your Short Screenplay or FEATURE Script
FULL FEEDBACK on all entries. Get your script performed
Screenplay CONTESTFIRST SCENE (first 10pgs) Screenplay CONTEST
Submit the first stages of your film and get full feedback!

Interview with Festival Director Edda Manriquez (Les Femmes Underground Film Festival)

 The International Les Femmes Underground is a film festival centred on the subversive, unique, and innovative. LEFUFF, showcases artists from all walks of life creating work which redefines the manner in which women are represented in mainstream cinema. Making its debut in 2016, Les Femmes Underground is premiering in Los Angeles as the first ever traveling women’s underground film festival. Les Femmes Underground was created as a response to the decline of feminist icons and role models in the media. As feminists, they believe it is our responsibility to empower new generations of young women to generate work which breaks away from society’s gendered roles.

http://lesfemmesinternational.org/
 
Matthew Toffolo: What is your Film Festival succeeding at doing for filmmakers?

A: LEFUFF, is an underground women’s traveling film festival featuring work from intersectional feminist artists from all around the world. We provide fee waivers for at need artists, low pro-rated submission rates, and offer opportunities for artists to attend through our traveling component. We bring films to the locations with the most artists; thereby alleviating costs of travel. Our festival features the gritty, raw undervalued marginalized stories and people in our community. A lot are emerging diy artists whose approach is millennial in aesthetic featuring digital, film, video, and glitch forms. We provide a space through which narrative artists can transition and experience experimental work, as well as a space where experimental filmmakers can glean and learn from narrative artists. We provide an edgy artistic underground world of queer-trans , experimental, phycho-trophic non-heteronormative art forms as well as insight into different cultures and the differences which bring us together as a community.

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

A: Our lineups are divided into 5 sections. This year we have included a documentary portion to our festival, where marginalized characters are examined. Our second portion showcases experimental work such as glitch art, experimental animation, and psycho-trophic films. Our third section features coming of age narrative shorts where the characters undergo cultural clashes and self-acceptance. Our fourth section features horror shorts, where we will showcase horror from a female lens. The last section is our adult rated showcase, where female sexuality will be examined through a variation of shorts.

MT: What are the qualifications for the selected films?

A: Films must be directed, produced or written by female artists or have strong female leads. The films can be made by men, after all feminists come in all shapes and forms, the only requirement that women aren’t one dimension.

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

A: The world of film is split into 2 major demographics. Hollywood and Indie Films. As most have made a reference to in the past couple years is that Hollywood is now Super Hero movies, and Indie is none other than large production companies making drama genre films. AKA not super heros. Then that leaves the rest of us…. Well more like then there’s commercial films ( people with good cameras who shoot boring basic content) …. And then the rest of us… the artists. The people who want more than just a pop-up book of movies. We crave substance, form, and mental stimulation. There in lies the bias in film festivals. If you look like you belong in Sundance due to your budget and the quality of camera you have then you are chosen. The quality of story is boring and has been seen many times before. If you have a budget for special effects.. you get in. If you have a celebrity in your film… you’re in. Why? Because most festivals want numbers. They want attendees, and celebrities bring that to you. They bring revenue. But they don’t bring diversity other than their token minorities with stories to claim to feature hardships of certain demographics, but are often directed by white rich men. So some films don’t make the cut. Then theres the world of experimental films, and those can be biased too. They have their own underground world of celebrities. If you are a certain name then you will play because you bring prestige to the festival . And so many times, people aren’t given opportunities. Also they don’t teach you this in art school or film school, festivals prefer shorter pieces to program more. So anything under 11 mins are preferred and 20 mins is pushing it. You have to remember these people are watching hundreds of movies. We’ve seen the same movie over and over again, or more like the same plot lines being retold. So yours has to stick out within the first shots. Also you can have an awful camera but if your sound is good and your story is compelling then you have a chance as a indie filmmaker.

MT: What motivates you and your team to do this festival?

A: We want to create a positive social change for women in the media cinematic arts. As a minority female artist, I understand my resume is skipped because I have a latin last name. I know because I am female I will also be questioned by production companies when it comes to tech knowledge. I know this because I’ve been there. I know because I have experienced being spoken over and disregarded. So we do this because we are all intersectional feminists, some of us are minorities, some of us are queer, some of us are male, some of us are Caucasian. We have the gambit of participants. So we know what it means to have to push against adversity. We do this so we can succeed as a community, to change the way films and women are viewed through different mediums of art.

MT: How has your FilmFreeway submission process been?

A: FilmFreeway is intuitive, it helps tracking and allows very easy sharing among other judged. Withoutabox is still very much a task. I want to compare it to apple vs pc. One just has more steps to customize. Filmreeway gives you the indie flavor and withoutabox has a lot of great narrative pieces with higher budgets. They both offer great resources and diverse options.

MT: Where do you see the festival by 2020?

A: We hope to continue to grow and eventually offer grants to at need artists to continue with their art. We would have traveled a couple more cities, as we did Venice Los Angeles last year and will be doing San Diego this year.

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

A: Funny enough I realize that my favorite film isn’t the best in technique, its not artistic, and its not a cinematic masterpiece. It’s the film which first made me feel something. It awakened a sense of awe, it gave me a desire to story tell. It was a film which created a world outside of myself, and of course it was none other than the very basic yet wonderfully whimsical Casper. Yes the kids film. Yes Christina Ricci. Yes my CalArts professors would be smacking me in the face for choosing this. But its true, I have watched this more times than I can count. I don’t need to think. I don’t need to analyze. It just is. Artists often look at me in disgust when I say this. But I believe this to be the most honest non-pretentious truth. This film changed my life when I was 8 years old. I started to write after that. It was raw and it was real and I still love it. Now if you were to ask me my favorite art film… then id get snooty pretentious… because I did go to an experimental Disney school.

MT: In one sentence, what makes a great film?

A: A great film makes you question or embrace your understanding of the world.

MT: How is the film scene in your city?

A: Los Angeles. Right. The capital of film, over stimulation. It is everywhere. It is the Mecca. There’s all kinds of underground societies as well as Hollywood. There’s a huge network of artists out there, grant it I am more familiar with CalArts inspired universes.
 

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Interviewee: Edda Manriquez- Edda graduated with an MFA in film and video from CalArts and received her BA at UC San Diego. She is southern California based feminist experimental filmmaker and performance artist. She founded LEFUFF in 2015 along side David Leopoldo Gonzalez. She currently works for the Getty Research Institute and is a community activist and educator. She now lives with her pet dog in Santa Clarita.

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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.

Interview with Festival Director Matt Croyle (Oil Valley Film Festival)

At the Oil Valley Film Festival, their mission is to bring the voices and films of new and established filmmakers to the heart of Venango County, an area underrepresented in the world of film. Located in Oil City, Pennsylvania, and nestled in the foothills of the Appalachian mountains, attending the Oil Valley Film Festival will grant you the experience of watching engaging cinema within an intimate community with a rich history.

http://oilvalleyfilmfestival.weebly.com/
 
Matthew Toffolo: What is your Film Festival succeeding at doing for filmmakers?

A: Well, we’re only a year in. This year is year two, but I think we’re heading down such a great future track as far as what we’re capable of providing for filmmakers. The “in competition” selections not only get the notoriety of being selected as just that, but each selection is in competition in every award category. Every screenwriting entrant receives an updated copy of the Hollywood Screenwriting Directory, and that’s just for submitting. We’re partnered with the Writers Store for the second year, and the directory is the premiere resource for screenwriters everywhere. It includes industry contacts, writing tips and advice, and is just a priceless addition to a career as a screenwriter.

Outside of those immediate benefits, filmmakers from all over the globe are able to get their films in front of a rural audience. I think it’s imperative that rural audiences get to connect with filmmakers they may not know, filmmakers outside of what flicks are being shown in their local multiplex. We offer that opportunity not only for a rural audience, but the filmmakers too.

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

A: Attending the Oil Valley Film Festival this year will, again, be an intimate gathering of filmmakers, audience members, and the festival staff. We’re in the process of adding panel events this year, which can give audience members an opportunity to learn about the different aspects of creating and marketing movies, but it gives filmmakers and writers the chance to network, and talk about their projects and experiences in doing so. If you want to get away from the city, spend a few days in the beauty of rural Pennsylvania, and enjoy quality cinema from around the globe, then our festival is for you.

MT: What are the qualifications for the selected films?

A: The films selected to screen at our festival go through a vetting process which includes our festival judiciary committee, which consists of filmmakers, producers, and cinema enthusiasts. It’s a select group, and they know their stuff. Each committee member is assigned with specific categories, with the final decision coming down to myself as director of the festival. We’re looking for amazing storytelling and production value, even if you don’t have the budget for the latter. Effort is imperative. Our selected films, while varying in many aspects, all find a distinct way to connect to our audiences on a personal level – as I feel quality cinema should. All selected films must not have been released theatrically or online. Premiere status isn’t a factor.

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

A: I do think some films don’t get a fair shake. A lot of the established festivals, while they are amazing events and great opportunities for filmmakers, seem extremely selective anymore in order to ensure audiences show up, in order to sell tickets / passes. While some unknown filmmaker – with an amazing first feature – may be on the fence, pitted against a name filmmaker with a so-so flick, an established festival may go the route of the latter for the fact that they know more people will attend the established filmmaker’s screening, even if that film isn’t as good. But, then again, “good” is subjective. We have to remember that movies, like anything else, are a business, and that’s especially true on the festival end of the industry.

MT: What motivates you and your team to do this festival?

A: I think the thing that motivates us more than anything is our love of movies. It’s really that simple. Growing up I always got excited when I saw a new film that spoke to me, and I couldn’t wait to run and tell my friends about it, set them down and watch it with them, watch their reactions. This festival is almost an extension of that same excitement. But now, as an adult, I have a larger venue in which to share that excitement with more people than just my friends. It’s finding a way to connect a lot of people with movies that mean something.

MT: How has your FilmFreeway submission process been?

A: I cannot say enough great things about FilmFreeway. Their service is absolutely integral to our submission process. It’s organizationally comprehensive, yet simple enough for your entire team to use. Their online marketing options are worth the time, and they’re fairly priced. We’ve already received half of our total submissions from last year by this year’s early bird deadline.

MT: Where do you see the festival by 2020?

A: Well, 2020 will be our fifth year. By then I would love for us to be an Academy-Award qualifying event for short films. That seems quite doable at this juncture, by the way we’re steadily growing. It’s not out of reach. And, by our fifth year, I hope that we can establish ourselves as a premiere event in Pennsylvania. There’s a lot of love for the process of filmmaking here, and a great reception for quality cinema from the people in the area.

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

A: Wow. That’s a tough question. I’m not exactly sure which film I’ve seen the most, but I will say that I can probably recite every line from both Peter Jackson’s ‘The Fellowship of the Ring’ and Kevin Smith’s ‘Clerks II.’

MT: In one sentence, what makes a great film?

A: How about one word? “Connection.” Everyone has a favorite film. If you connect to it, it’s “great” to you.

MT: How is the film scene in your city?

A: Oil City, Pennsylvania isn’t the hub of film in the area, but we’re looking to make our mark with what we do at the Oil Valley Film Festival. It’s nice for film lovers here for the fact that we’re about halfway between Pittsburgh and Erie, and we’re looking to bridge that gap not only with the film festival, but by making our own films here – promoting the area for other productions is another thing we’re striving to do. We’re a Rust Belt city, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a love and need for culture and art here. We’re adding to that need, helping it to grow.

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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.

Interview with Festival Founder Matt Beurois (Paris Art and Movie Awards Film Festival)

The Paris Art and Movie Awards is the leading independent film festival in Paris. The « PAMA » has been ranked, as soon as its second year, the second festival not to miss in Paris, by The Culture Trip Magazine. Their goal is to help independent filmmakers screening their films, awarding them, show their films to high level industry talents and public figures.

http://parisartandmovieawards.com/

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

A: The best feedback proof we have is filmmakers coming back to the PAMA and submit again when they have a new film. They tell us our festival is a real opportunity to network. We had directors finding actresses, we had filmmaker matching with a producer, scriptwriters connecting with directors. And of course with the audience. We’re going to try and continue this so the Paris Art and Movie Awards stay human and films connected.

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

A: As we move to a new movie theatre every year, audience and filmmakers will have the films screen in a new location in 2017 again. Every year we get bigger in attendance, so in seats capacity.

Also the Judges : we usually have about 5 international judges. We had Mark Dacascos, and French legendary actor Alain Doutey. This year, we already announced 10 judges, and I can tell you two more are coming, minimum.

MT: What are the qualifications for the selected films?

A: We’re looking for quality of course, but we’re not ashamed to say we’re expecting ambition. The PAMA is the leading independent film festival in Paris, and we want to screen and promote filmmakers who want to reach out, to jump out of the box, to achieve something. Out selection process rewards the ambition you have, and how you manage to make a movie, to fully complete it, which is no easy task.

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

A: It is less and less true. Because there are more and more film festivals, and that’s, in some ways, good for filmmakers : they can target the events that fit them, where their films will be a match. What I personally think, is that there is a huge gap between the A-Class worldwide film festivals, and the indy festivals. This is why the Paris Art and Movie Award was created ; to stand there, remain accessible, but clearly offering high quality screenings, events, networking.

MT: What motivates you and your team to do this festival?

A: The people. The filmmakers, and the lovers of cinema. During the 2016 opening speech of the festival, I said we care about the people who make the films, and I mean it. When you se all the artists and filmmakers that stayed in touch after the different editions of the festival, that is truly rewarding to us. That feeling makes me want to go on and on for that.

MT: How has your FilmFreeway submission process been?

A: We just opened submissions, and that’s amazing : that’s the biggests start we had since the creation of the festival. It’s like people were somehow expecting us to accept entries and… Here we are !

MT: Where do you see the festival by 2020?

A: I would love the festival to reach a large venue, and even several venue to host the many screenings and events. 2020, I’d also say we’ll have secured partnerships with USA and the festival being included in an international network connecting Paris, Los Angeles, Vancouver and London…

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

A: The Frighteners, by Peter Jackson. The perfect, most ignored and under-estimated feature by Jackson, which is the perfect balance between comedy and genre. And Terminator 2 by James Cameron. One of the film that founded my love for cinema.

MT: In one sentence, what makes a great film?

A: Not a sentence, a word: script.

MT: How is the film scene in your city?

A: The festival scene is booming, but I wonder how many festivals will still be around in two to three years. As for the movie business in Paris, the films in the middle -between 1 and 4M€ budget- are disappearing and that’s a dramatic loss for independent filmmakers. The influence of Luc Besson did some real good, for tax rebate and obviously to give something the new generation of artists can build from. Regarding the independent short films scene, it is hard to tell as it’s mostly in the dark. I will tell you that when we’ll have the 2017 selection at the PAMA.

 

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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.