Interview with Festival Director Jayson Simba (KEW GARDENS FESTIVAL OF CINEMA)

Already being hailed by The Wall Street Journal as New York City’s next major film event, and as mentioned on The Huffington Post, Kew Gardens Festival of Cinema is a non-profit organization established to support the development of and help expand the audiences for independent cinema from around the globe. The inaugural festival will take place Aug. 4-13, 2017.

http://www.kewgardensfestivalofcinema.com/

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

Jayson Simba: Simply, our festival is succeeding in getting filmmakers films in front of the right people at the right location. We wanted to make sure we were able to present films in an actual theater, giving them the proper environment in addition to optimal sound and visuals. We are also working extremely hard to have audiences attend and have a very active campaign on social media as well as various print outlets. Finally, we want to assure that filmmakers are comfortable and confident with their submissions, so along with obtaining great sponsors that are offering amazing opportunities, we guarantee that every film is watched by a board member in its entirety.

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

Attendees and participants can expect to experience an event, not just a film festival. We are not only concentrating on the Films, but we want to offer filmmakers and attendees a great time, so you can expect Movie Trivia Night, Happy Hours Specials at various Bars and Restaurants throughout the area. We also will be having an outdoor screening in Flushing Meadow Park under the famous Unisphere presented by The Queens Museum!

What are the qualifications for the selected films?

The ONLY qualification is that the film isn’t backed by a major studio. Other than that, anything and everything goes! We have already received over 350 amazing films which include subjects and genres such as Horror, Drama, Fantasy, Noir, Thriller, Action, LGBT, Docs, Animation and Experimentation.

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

Absolutely without question. With the rise in popularity in ‘independent film’ A lot of major studios have developed divisions that fund and produce these films, usually with a budget of $10 million plus. It’s become unfortunate that film festivals which have gone on to become some of the biggest in the world, seem to have forgotten the true purpose of a film festival and generally seem to cater to films with multimillion dollar budgets and A list actors – something that the truly independent film rarely if at all has access to. There are some amazing films out there (as our festival is setting out to prove) that do an amazing job without the large budget and A list celebrities.

What motivates you and your team to do this festival?

Honestly it’s the love of film. Our festival was formed by filmmakers who have the experience of creating content that has been rejected by major festivals for the very same reasons as others. Knowing at the end of the day that we are providing an great service, presenting great material and allowing everyone to fully enjoy this festival as an event, makes it all worth doing.

How has your FilmFreeway submission process been?

Filmfreeway is only one of the five platforms where we are accepting films. But FilmFreeway is #1. Alone we have surpassed 200 submissions!

Where do you see the festival by 2020?

My personal vision is to have this event become a NYC staple. An event that people plan and book in advance because its “THE” place to be in August.

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

Oh wow. That’s tough. I’m a huge cinephile and have been since as long as I can remember! (As a kid, my mom and I would go to the local videostore and rent 5 movies at time!) …..But If I must claim ONE – I’d say its probably the original Clash of the Titans and/or Star Wars – I knew both films VERBATIM.

In one sentence, what makes a great film?

goosebumps

How is the film scene in your city?

In our CITY – the film scene is intense. Besides all the multiplexes and over 200 film festivals, I’d say NYC has one of, if not the largest film going population in the world….Now if you ask me about the film scene in QUEENS? That’s another story – and we are about to change that!
 

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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 Warren Workman (Family Film Festival)

The Family Film Festival will take place this summer at the Covey Center for the Arts. They will be screening films and producing 3 short films the week prior to the award program. Come join in the fun with the entire family in Provo, Utah.

http://www.familyfilmfest.org/

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

Warren Workman: At the Family Film Festival we are cultivating an environment for young filmmakers to learn the skills it takes to tell great stories through cinema. By providing a venue for them to learn the skills and watch films by great filmmakers, we provide a well rounded experience to help anyone dive into the family friendly filmmaking genre.

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

Expect a different vibe at the Family Film Festival than you are used to. You will see a lot of young children running around in the lobbies and cheering and laughing along with your film. We provide a relaxed atmosphere while showcasing films in our posh theater to audiences of all ages.

What are the qualifications for the selected films?

We are looking for family friendly films so if it would fall in the G-PG or TV-G to TV-14 area then we are the festival for you. The films are selected by a committee of parents and kids that are looking for films that entertain, inspire, and educate audiences without alienating younger viewers.

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

Not at all. We work with several festivals and see that each film is viewed by multiple members of a selection committee. However some films just don’t make sense for all film festival. A film probably wont get accepted to a horror genre film festival if it is a feel good family comedy. Filmmakers would see a higher acceptance rate if they submitted their projects based of what the festival is looking for. Its always a good idea to see if the festival is a good match for the film before submitting.

What motivates you and your team to do this festival?

Provo City asked us to help bring a film festival that would resonate with their younger family demographic. Having young children ourselves we have found it difficult find events that cater to the entire family. We are excited to present and event that is fun for everyone no matter their age.

How has your FilmFreeway submission process been?

We have had a tremendous response! We had 50 submissions come through in our first week since we opened our call for submissions. Almost every single one of the films and screenplays submitted is exactly what we are looking for and we are excited to start programing a wonderful first year.

Where do you see the festival by 2020?

We would love to see the event grow into a week long festival tradition bringing grandkids and grandparents into the same theater to provide a unique educational experience.

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

Other than the annual watching of “It’s a Wonderful Life” I have probably seen “Sound of Music” more than any other film.

In one sentence, what makes a great film?

If a film can connect with me on an emotional level, thats what makes a great film to me.

How is the film scene in your city?

We currently have 21 films/series being filmed in Utah County right now. It’s super busy here if you in the film business.

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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 Diana Ringo (Prague Independent Film Festival)

Prague Independent Film Festival (PIFF), established in 2016, is an annual event held in August which focuses on international independent cinema. Its purpose is to recognize and support new filmmakers and to present their films to the Czech audience. The festival includes screenings and an award ceremony where The Golden Eagle is given as the Grand Prix.
http://prague-film-festival.com/

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

Diana Ringo: Prague Independent Film Festival gives an opportunity for filmmakers to showcase their films, to network, find important contacts and to become part of an elite cultural circle of cinematography. Our film awards are significant and respected; many of our winners have received substantial press coverage from many major press outlets concerning their triumph. Our festival is IMDB qualified event.

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

To see great new films presented by the filmmakers themselves, to participate in discussions and parties.

What are the qualifications for the selected films?

We expect highly artistic films made with different budgets, widely ranging in genres and made in the last two years. At PIFF we screen feature films, short films, experimental films, documentaries and music videos.

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

Yes, I do think that some films do not receive the recognition they deserve at film festivals. Many large-scale festivals have become so politicized that if a picture does not have a suitable thematic subject it might become lost at the festival circuit. Huge festivals which heavily rely on government funding cannot be fully independent; they are forced to coordinate everything with the powers-that-be which causes the festivals to mirror local political tendencies. Because of this it is important for independent film festivals to exist.

What motivates you and your team to do this festival?

Our immense interest in cinema and desire to create an impact on the cultural scene in Prague.

Where do you see the festival by 2020?

I expect more participants and that we successfully continue our traditions without betraying our core essence.

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

I have seen “À bout de souffle” many times and find it inspiring because it is an important and influential picture made by a young independent director on a limited budget.

In one sentence, what makes a great film?

A great film should be able to make a deep impression and linger in the viewer’s heart and mind.

How is the film scene in your city?

Many beautiful historical cinemas are located in Prague, for example Kino Lucerna which is one of our venues. Cultural life of Czechia is mostly concentrated in Prague, so it was especially important to create a festival here with its rich cultural traditions.

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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 Stéphanie Demers-Hébert (Courts D’Un Soir)

It’s a film festival, occurring twice a year and dedicated to short films. Courts d’un soir is based of ephemeral. On the factual the Festival, from the projection to the awards, is going on one unique night.  Courts d’un soir broadcast  all kinds of short programs, as long as it’s under 40 minutes. From fiction to documentary and passing by animation in all its forms.

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

Stéphanie Demers-Hébert: Giving them visibility. That’s one of our goals : we want filmmaker to have a place where their short films can be seen. We wanna give them a public.

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

A selection of quality made of the best short film from around the world. To have a first « date » with short films.

What are the qualifications for the selected films?

All the film submitted to our festival must be under 40 minutes and have been produced after January 2015. All non-english or non-french movies must be subtitles in English.
We based our selection on the technical quality and the originality of the subject.

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

Theres a lot of film festival. But there is also a lot of films. The competition is hard and sending our film to a lot of festival might be expensive. Theres a lot of festival with expensive submission fees. I think some filmmaker doesn’t have the budget to send their film to a lot of festivals. When it comes to distribution, it might be hard to know where to send our film and the fees can be discouraging. That’s why when wanted to create a festival accessible to all filmmakers.

What motivates you and your team to do this festival?

We wanted to offer a opportunities for young filmmaker to have there films screened in a movie theater. We thought about this idea of a « one-night stand » for short films. It’s an occasion for filmmaker to show their film and for the public to see short films. Short films are not really commercialize and the occasion to see them is often limited to professional. We offer the occasion, for the public, to have their first « date » with the short films.

How has your FilmFreeway submission process been?

Really good. We are more than happy about the high degree of interest for our Festival. FilmFreeway gave us the opportunity to reach international filmmaker, which would have been impossible without the platform.

Where do you see the festival by 2020?

Really bigger. We hope to have a larger room next year. Our goal is to be able to bring together more people around short films and to give more visibly for the young artists behind to short films.

What film have you seen the most times in your life?
The big blue, from Luc Besson.

In one sentence, what makes a great film?

A film that makes you feel a panoply of emotions.

How is the film scene in your city?

In Montréal, it’s a lot around emerging and independent film. In the same time, the city welcome a lot of American shooting who come here cause it’s cheaper.

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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 Nicholas Marchese (Monmouth Film Festival)

Monmouth Film Festival, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization designed to promote and connect filmmakers from all over the state and country. The festival is more than an opportunity for artists to have their work showcased, it is a forum for educational opportunities through workshops, networking, Q&As and special panels with industry guests; that provide insight, growth and inspiration. Our unique platform strives to create an atmosphere where filmmakers of all levels, including high and low budget works, can be seen, heard and interact with movie-goers, promoters and other artists.

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

Our primary mission is to promote, connect and educate filmmakers. For promotion, we work with companies such as iPitch.TV, who helps filmmakers pitch their films to the major studios; thus opening up distribution opportunities for the films that win at our festival. For connecting/networking, each year we hold an Industry Networking event, featuring special industry guests, press, artists and even reps from our partnered companies such as Backstage who all come together in Red Bank to meet and greet during the event. As a non-profit, education is one of our biggest focuses. We offer many different forums for education including workshops, Q&As, Internships for students and our annual Industry Film Panel; featuring a panel of esteemed industry professionals who take the stage to discuss their careers and offer insight and inspiration for the filmmakers in attendance. There’s much value in attending Monmouth Film Festival as both a featured filmmaker and aspiring filmmaker or artist. There’s something for everyone.

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

Something fresh, exciting; the finest, top-quality independent cinema around. We’re different than most festivals around. We like to call ourselves ‘By Filmmakers, For Filmmakers’, meaning that as filmmakers ourselves, we understand the struggles and difficulties that go into making a film. So those who submit can be sure their films are receiving a fair shot when being judged for selections and awards. We are always reaching wider for films; looking for hidden filmmakers and talents across our state, country, and the world (as we are an international film festival). At Monmouth, there are no favorites, no special treatments, and no ‘good old boys club’. Every film gets the same fair opportunity to be chosen.

What are the qualifications for the selected films?

The story is above all in our selection process. Specifically, with independent cinema, your film should be an extension of yourself. We love to feel the voice of the filmmaker behind their film, especially when they come for a Q&A and can speak about the motivations behind it. We are open to all styles and techniques; which is why we have a diverse screening committee, all having niches in different categories including documentary, narrative, international art cinema etc…

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

I can’t really speak for other festivals selection process only because each are so different and of course, filmmaking itself is very subjective. What a story means or how it gets received can and usually is different from one person to another. What I can say, knowing from collaborating with many different programmers from different respected film festivals is that each has a different taste. Sometimes a film may be submitted that was technically perfect but doesn’t fit in with the vision for that particular festival. So the moral of the story is if your film doesn’t get accepted to a festival, it doesn’t mean it’s not good, it’s just not the right festival for that film. It’s difficult even for our festival that we only have a certain number of slots each year for films, so sometimes films that we very much enjoy get cut due to the tight time slots we have for programming. What I can comment on though in addition is that as a Filmmaker, and I have done this myself, do some research into the festivals you are submitting to. See what they’re all about. Who’s running them, who they work with and what value there is for you and your film being a part of it. Submission fees add up, so make wise choices when submitting. Eight out of ten times a not for profit festival like Monmouth Film Festival will always give you a better return for your money because we are here for you, the filmmaker, not ourselves and our interests.

What motivates you and your team to do this festival?

We love film. If I said nothing more, that should say it all! Along our own journey as filmmakers, having won many awards myself across multiple festivals, I have come to appreciate the opportunity to network with filmmakers and meet many important and distinguished guests across the industry who have always reached a handout. With that being said, not every festival I have attended lived up to its expectations. That’s what I wanted to change. I wanted to take the best aspects of all these festivals I attended and put them all into one. Together with a diverse team of artists from all interests and backgrounds, we are able to passionately drive forward to raise the bar each year higher and wider. I would like to say we have already made a bold mark after year one – having received rave reviews from critics and audiences along with top ratings – and next year, it will be ever bolder.

How has your FilmFreeway submission process been?

Submissions have been great. This year we are working with Withoutabox as well, trying to open our submissions to as many filmmakers as possible. We’ve been very happy with the submission numbers so far and already have a handful of films we are interested in screening August 2017. Submissions are open through June so don’t forget to submit! Feature, Shorts, Student Films, Trailers, Screenplays, TV Pilots and Web series; this year we have a category for every artist!

Where do you see the festival by 2020?

By 2020 I see Monmouth rising higher and brighter to a festival that filmmakers will call a “must submit” along the festival circuit. By that point we’ll have many more companies working with us, expanding our opportunities for filmmakers even further. Our community and tri-state area will recognize us for being an asset for artists all over and look forward to each year’s program. I would like to see us at that point operating as a year-round company, offering seminars, special screenings and educational workshops throughout the year. This is definitely a direction we are already moving in fast.

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

That’s a tough one! Being that I write a lot of comedy, I am a fan of the older Adam Sandler movies, so I can’t count the number of times I’ve seen “Happy Gilmore”. But next to that “My Cousin Vinny” and “The Graduate” aren’t too far behind!

In one sentence, what makes a great film?

Before the lights, camera, editing, locations and all of that, the characters are the single most important element to any film. Whether we like them, hate them, love them, they make us laugh or cry, we need to know these people so well, and invest in what they are trying to tell us; that’s why we keep watching. That’s why when they’re alone, we’re alone. When they’re scared, we are too. Characters well developed with much depth sell a film every time (same for documentaries too).

How is the film scene in your city?

Red Bank, NJ is the arts mecca of Monmouth County, New Jersey. For the past decade, Red Bank has been growing its way back to the top due to great venues such as Count Basie Theater and Two River Theater, where we hold our festival. We are glad to be a part of revitalizing the arts community and life within our County and State. It’s really an amazing sight when you can stand in the middle of a beautiful glass wall lobby and see so many passion artists travel into Red Bank from all over, coming together for one main purpose, 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 Darrell Holmes (Barnstorm Film + TV Script Fest)

Barnstorm is not just a screenplay competition, its focus is on helping you develop your script for production. Every submission receives script analysis from an industry professional and winners receive consultations from producers at Barnstorm Media.

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

Barnstorm helps screenwriters turn their scripts into films. We offer free coverage on every submission. We offer production consultations to our finalists. And Barnstorm offers writer/directors the chance to submit a script to our FILMMAKER category for a chance to win the financing, equipment, production assistance, production design, costume design, music composition, and film editing to help make their film a reality.

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

What are the qualifications for the selected films?

We are looking for original voices and stories.

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

Independent film has become a genre. Festivals are looking for films that fit the genre and/or have names attached. The same films play every festival throughout the season. Independent film is stale. Barnstorm is here to breathe some life into it.

What motivates you and your team to do this festival?

Barnstorm’s ultimate goal is to find and provide an avenue for overlooked filmmakers.

How has your FilmFreeway submission process been?

FilmFreeway has been great to us.

Where do you see the festival by 2020?

Since the goal of Barnstorm Fest is turn submitters’ scripts into films, by 2020 we would like have a fully formed distribution platform that features theatrical tours with our winning films and our own integrated online distribution platform. By 2020 we would like for Barnstorm to be a place for unique writer/directors to submit their work to see it taken from production to distribution.

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

Growing up, I had three VHS to choose from: Raiders of the Lost Ark, Drop Dead Fred and The Empire Strikes Back. The number of times I watched those films cannot be surpassed.

In one sentence, what makes a great film?

Disciplined expression.

How is the film scene in your city?

We’re based in Los Angeles where 90% of conversations are about film. That said, Los Angeles is one of the most expensive and most difficult cities in the country to make an independent 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 Anthony Michael Hobbs (Imagination Lunchbox International Children’s Film Festival)

 Imagination Lunchbox is a film production company based in Baltimore, Maryland. After screening films at numerous festivals across the country, they realized that there was a need for kid focused films in the Baltimore, Maryland and general area. It seemed only appropriate that a company well-known for kid centered films would be the perfect organization to help fill this need.

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

Anthony Michael Hobbs: The Imagination Lunchbox International Children’s Film Festival is succeeding at giving a special opportunity for kid filmmakers who don’t get the chance to show their films, by having three categories: FOR kids, BY kids, and STARRING Kids; everything is about the kids!

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

When people come to the film festival this year, they will experience a lot of effort and excitement as we show films by kid filmmakers, but also for ways to make the film festival better. I want everyone to come out and see what we have to offer, and then tell us what they like and what they would want to see next year. I hope that other kid filmmakers hear about us so they know they now have a place that will focus on their films.

What are the qualifications for the selected films?

We are actually still screening, but our selection qualifications are how much we think other kids will enjoy them, and which films will bring a variety to the festival. We want a variety of people, experiences, and even cultures. I’m looking forward to kids in Baltimore enjoying films by kids in Europe, Australia, Brazil, or where ever they come from!

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

Yes, I think some films don’t get a fair shake at film festivals because films that are by kids are not really taken seriously, and people think they are a joke or that the kids did not put a lot of effort into it, so it doesn’t get into the film festivals. Even some film festivals called children’s film festivals don’t really show films by kids.

What motivates you and your team to do this festival?

I am motivated to do this festival because I have gone to many film festivals before, and I have noticed that there are really no many festivals for kids; and the festivals that do exist don’t really do much for kids. When festivals do have kids categories they don’t show many films and don’t do much for the films because the focus is adults and their films. I have been to a few festivals that do better with this, but the kid films still only get a day or a small block of time. I am having this festival where the focus is the kids to give kid filmmakers a place and a festival where they will be the focus. I am starting small with a one day festival, but hopefully it will grow into more.

How has your FilmFreeway submission process been?

My FilmFreeway experience has been great! There are some days where we won’t get submissions and that gives us a chance to review films and catch up on the many that we have received. As soon as we catch up we get more submissions, but that is great. We always think we’ve been the best films, and then other people submit and you think that THOSE films are awesome too. Sometimes one person will submit multiple films, so that is interesting to see all the different ideas that one person has.

Where do you see the festival by 2020?

By the year 2020, I see the festival being a successful festival with over 300 submissions a year, and having so many people attend the festival we need a huge venue!

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

The film that I have seen the most times in my life is Pokémon movies. I actually watch a lot of movies a lot of times. I’ve watch Disney’s Aladdin a few times, as well as Disney’s The Lion King. When I really think about, I remember watching The SpongeBob Movie a lot of times. I also really like the old Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie. That’s a favorite of mines too.

In one sentence, what makes a great film?

A great film has action, comedy, adventure, good script, good actors, and good music.

How is the film scene in your city?

In Baltimore, it seems like the film scene is off and on. Baltimore was really popular years ago, and then the film scene kind of went away. I think there is only two film festivals here, and neither have a youth or kid category. Sometimes Baltimore is the location for a few scenes of a film or television show, but not a lot happens anymore. I think that is because we don’t have tax credits like other cities.

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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
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