Interview with Festival Director Connie Spielberg (Creative Arts Film Festival)

The Creative Arts Film Festival is an annual international film festival that is designed to showcase and promote short films and filmmakers. CAFF runs throughout the entire month of December and we offer worldwide exposure, free promotional listings, international audiences, and the prestigious “Perfect Spirit Film Awards”. And, yes, we do accept Music Videos in any of the genres.

December 1-31, 2016
http://www.creativeartsfilmfestival.com/

Interview with Connie Spielberg:

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

Getting them noticed in the industry, getting them fans, and getting them to believe in themselves.

MT: What would you expect to experience if you attend the festival this year (2016)?

Well, we’re online, so attendance is quite different. But, generally, as always, we expect excitement and rabid curiosity for the films and filmmakers.

MT: What are the qualifications for the selected films?

Under 60 minutes and some kind of mind-blowing moment that isn’t a slick trick or a bourgeois attempt at being smarter than the audience. That’s it.

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

Of course. I want to say most, but I won’t, so…some film fests won’t even watch our film unless there’s something alluring attached, like a star, a celeb, a writer, etc. Something that says money or influence. To be quite honest, almost every star vehicle we’ve ever received, we’ve denied. They can get very boring, very fast, and everyone expects the star to carry the project. Most times, no. Not that it’s the star’s fault. Mostly it’s the producer or director’s fault for just bad filmmaking. RULE OF THUMB — Spend your money on making awesome moments happen, not on celebrities. Or mix it up somehow…think Slingblade. Or get a star that CAN act. What we really like is finding some diamond in the rough that has real story-telling power. Something that excites the viewer with fresh new ideas.

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

Discovering True Talent.

MT: How has the festival changed since its inception?

It hasn’t. We were a pain in the ass when we started, and we still are. If the film is great, we can’t stop talking about it. If the film sucks, we can’t stop talking about it.

MT: Where do you see the festival by 2020?

Exactly the same. Offering up really great new films by really great new filmmakers.

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

“Robocop” (Verhoeven). It’s SO much more than just a superhero movie and it told so many stories within it’s 90 minute frame.

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

In one sentence? …if it doesn’t suck? No, no…seriously, this is a tough one. I mean, why was “Kick-Ass” so awesome, and “Kick-Ass 2” so lame? Why did “Legends of the Fall” make me cry like a little child, and “The English Patient” make me want to blow my brains out from boredom? Plus, there’s esoteric, and there’s practical. Okay, I think I have it. Here it is…What makes a great film, esoterically? Everybody knowing, and doing, their job passionately. AND, what makes a great film, practically — tell the story honestly. Don’t be clever or slick. Just tell the story honestly. Actually, swap those two answers and I think that nails it.

MT: How is the film scene in your city?

The film scene is always abuzz with everything from sucky to savvy. ut the movie scene is completely jaded and stale.
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Interviewer Matthew Toffolo is currently the CEO of the WILDsound FEEDBACK Film & Writing Festival. The festival that showcases 10-20 screenplay and story readings performed by professional actors every month. And the FEEDBACK Monthly Festival held in downtown Toronto on the last Thursday of every single month. Go to www.wildsound.ca for more information and to submit your work to the festival.

Interview with Festival Director Loren W. Lepre (Freedom Shorts Philadelphia)

Welcome to FREEDOM SHORTS! The largest and most active short film fest in Philadelphia! This is the ONLY game in town when it comes to short films! This is the FORMER (A Night of Short Films) event. YES the name just changed same great event and the same fun that comes with it!! This event is really a great place to have your film shown and at this event all of our hard work pays off! This event has grown at a rapid rate. This event draws 200-400 people each time. Trailers are welcome! The event is followed up by an award show! YES WE LIKE TO GIVE OUT AWARDS! ALL awards and selections are picked by jury. These events are known for plenty of surprises. Filmmakers this is your night!

http://averagesuperstarfilms.com/

Interview with Loren W. Lepre

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

Loren W. Lepre: It gives the filmmakers from around the world a BIG stage to shine on. It’s a full size theatre with a full size screen, a $60,000 sound system, and seats 600 people.

MT: What would you expect to experience if you attend the festival this year (2016)?

LL: This is for somebody attending right? They would get to see a professional event on a major stage in one of the biggest cities in The US.

MT: What are the qualifications for the selected films?

LL: The films are selected by what is the best of the best submitted. We also like to channel surf when it comes to Freedom Shorts. if we had some dark thriller we like to bring it back up with a comedy afterward. We believe in balance

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

LL: And if so, why? YES! We believe that on this giving night that the filmmaker should shine. We also have a webseries where we talk with the filmmakers and show the world what our event is all about. These video help MARKET the films the way they should be.

Video link. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LH5oAX-ZF68

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

LL: Here in Philadelphia we had no spot for to screen short films actively. I had ties to The Trocadero and stepped up to the plate and here we are 4 years later.

MT: How has the festival changed since its inception?

LL: At first we screened anything! Anything to stay alive I (Loren W. Lepre) did this event solo but as time went on help came a lot of help. Than the films started getting better and better. We really do our best to put together a solid show every time.

MT: Where do you see the festival by 2020?

LL: Being in the top 20 fests in the world. Yup we aim that high.

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

LL: Lost Boys still my favorite movie and Rumble Fish a close 2nd.

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

LL: A great story with great lighting, audio and to the point!

MT: How is the film scene in your city?

LL: Philadelphia I would like to praise but I can’t the indie filmmakers need a major kick in the ass. To much self praise with every baby step and NONE of them think with worldwide eyes. Films being made with to many short cuts are killing films. Directors NOT pushing their films to get them out of the Philly area. To many films being made for their mantle and not going the distance.

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Loren W. Lepre was born and raised in Carbondale Pennsylvania. Moved to Philadelphia in 1999 to work in the wrestling business. Loren has been training in martial arts since 1995. As time went on Loren was drawn away from wrestling and into MMA where he trained with Daddis Fight Camps. One day he was asked to be an extra as a zombie in a indie film called The Reunion. From that day forward Loren jumped into acting where he studied at Walnut Street Theater. Loren has been in over 75 projects since 2011. He is the owner of Average Superstar Films and runs the largest and most active short film fest in Philadelphia.
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Interviewer Matthew Toffolo is currently the CEO of the WILDsound FEEDBACK Film & Writing Festival. The festival that showcases 10-20 screenplay and story readings performed by professional actors every month. And the FEEDBACK Monthly Festival held in downtown Toronto on the last Thursday of every single month. Go to www.wildsound.ca for more information and to submit your work to the festival.

Interview with the Festival Director of Cinema Camp

Cinema Camp Film Festival is a festival connected to the Cinema Camp film course, in wich teenagers from 13 to 17 spend a week learning the process of filmmaking. The Film Festival has a double purpose, on one hand it seeks to give visibility to the short film as a whole, on the other it wants to serve the students of the film course as a formative tool that may be inspiring by its original ideas or unique techniques.

Interview with the Festival Director: 

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

We’re a very special festival, because we’re part of a summer film academy called “Cinema Camp” (http://cinemacamp.es/), so we’re screening shortfilms to aspiring filmmakers. This way, Cinema Camp students can appreciate the works that filmmakers create from a full perspective, as well as obtain inspiration in order to create their own films. There’s a complete recognition to the filmmakers whose works are screened.

MT: What would you expect to experience if you attend the festival this year (2016)?  

A great selection of works from all around the world, really, I’m quite surprised about how easy is to get a piece of almost any important cinematography in the world. Great stories that are told in an original way.

MT: What are the qualifications for the selected films?  

They must be less than 15 minutes, and they should be in spanish or have subtitles in spanish or in english. We also appreciate that they’re not older than 2014.

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

Maybe. The problem I think, is that there are thousands of films outhere, so sometimes is hard for a film festival that has recieved hundreds of submissions to value properly each film. In Cinema Camp Film Festival, we’re doing pretty well with this, our selection comitee is working really hard and, don’t know why, we still haven’t recieved many submissions, (I think we’re around 50), so filmmakers, there’s a high probability of getting a selection if you send us your work!

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

Two things, creating new points of exhibition for fantastic pieces that otherwise would be difficult to watch, and give the Cinema Camp Students a great lesson about how many ways there are in order to create a story.

MT: How has the festival changed since its inception?  

Not very much, we’re still a young festival, however there are little changes, this year for example, we’re becoming a competitive festival with a 100$ cash for the best film, and also special mentions.

MT: Where do you see the festival by 2020?  

We’d like to become bigger, givving more awards, having a bigger budget and inviting some filmmakers to present their works

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

Mmm, It’s difficult to answer that one, dont really know, there are lots of films, as diverse as The Godfather or Star Wars, that I’ve seen lots of times

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

A great story told from an original point of view.

MT: How is the film scene in your city?  

Honestly not very good… But we’re working on that 😉

cinemacamp

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Interviewer Matthew Toffolo is currently the CEO of the WILDsound FEEDBACK Film & Writing Festival. The festival that showcases 10-20 screenplay and story readings performed by professional actors every month. And the FEEDBACK Monthly Festival held in downtown Toronto on the last Thursday of every single month. Go to www.wildsound.ca for more information and to submit your work to the festival.

Interview with Artistic Director Kate Kaminski (Bluestocking Film Series)

Bluestocking Film Series celebrates and amplifies women’s voices and stories on-screen and promotes talented, emerging and established filmmakers who take the creative risk of placing female characters front and center. Founded in 2010, Bluestocking focuses exclusively on female-driven films that pass the Bechdel-Wallace Test (a film with at least two female characters speaking to each other about something other than men). The only women in film event in Maine, Bluestocking was also the first U.S. film event to receive Sweden’s A-Rating (informing consumers that the festival passes the Bechdel-Wallace Test).

Interview with Kate Kaminski

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

Bluestocking Film Series is a dedicated space for celebrating films that center female characters. We have a vested interest in finding, promoting and nurturing those filmmakers we believe have the chops to succeed in the commercial marketplace, and to influence the future of female representation on-screen. Our relationships with filmmakers extend beyond the annual screenings and, after six years, we’ve connected to an incredibly diverse, global network of people committed to changing the ratio and making great movies.

MT: What would you expect to experience if you attend the festival this year (2016)?  

This year is a total immersive experience of female-driven cinema in every genre. We’ve got wacko comedies, moving dramas, sharp satirical scifi and horror films, and road movies that radically reinterpret a narrative often exclusively male. And we’re also dubbing our 6th annual fest as The Year of The Bad Girls, so people can expect women behaving badly too.

MT: What are the qualifications for the selected films?  

We specifically seek out well-produced films that offer an alternative, more complicated view of what women and girls are capable of. We’re always interested in seeing stories that offer insight into the complex relationships we have with each other. With our focus exclusively on fiction films, good acting is probably the most important qualification for any selected film.

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

Considering that people pay for that consideration, film festivals, by definition, should be giving every filmmaker a fair shake. Does every programmer to an extent have their own taste that drives selection curation? Speaking for myself, yes. There are certain types of characters and situations that especially excite my interest, but I’m open to an extremely wide range of cinematic expression.

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

We’re driven by a desire to see (and nurture) films that provoke new thinking about the possibilities for female-driven stories. Bluestocking screenings are an exciting experience for the audience. We also feel like we’re part of the greater movement toward gender equality in the world of cinema and in general. Of course, we’re motivated by love of the art. Movies have the ability to transport audiences, move them emotionally, and even change them — which is the point of it all.

MT: How has the festival changed since its inception?  

We started as a biannual showcase and have evolved into an annual celebration of female protagonists. We’re also expanding to 3 days of programming in 2016, opening the festival with an all-star panel of women in film talking about the state of female representation on- and off-screen. We remain committed to the art of the short film, but we are also open to the possibilities of eventually screening features and running a screenwriting competition.

MT: Where do you see the festival by 2020?  

That will be Bluestocking’s 10th anniversary! Hopefully, by then, Bluestocking is a destination for film lovers who are as fascinated by complex female protagonists as we are, and they’re making an annual trek to see what cinematic riches we have in store for them.

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

This is probably the hardest question of all! I’ve seen so many movies multiple times. If I’m pressed, I admit that I re-watch “Jaws” every year so it probably wins for most times. Plus, shark-driven films are perhaps my second favorite genre. But I’ve also watched (and taught) Barbara Loden’s film “Wanda” enough times that it’s a close second.

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

My notion of a great film might be somebody else’s trash, but I know it when I see it.

MT: How is the film scene in your city?  

I’ve been making films in Portland since the early 1990s when there were only a few of us, so I’ve seen the scene grow exponentially in the last 15-20 years. Now there’s a very active indie scene for sure. The beauty of being a low-budget, indie filmmaker in Portland (and Maine, in general) is that you really have your pick of locations. You can shoot urban or rural scenes, seaside or mountain, and do so with very little travel time. So that’s pretty sweet.

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Kate Kaminski is an independent filmmaker whose films have screened all over the world. As Gitgo Productions, she and partner Betsy Carson have produced more than 30 films, including 4 feature films and numerous short fiction and non-fiction films. Gitgo’s 53-episode improvised Willard Beach was the first web series produced in Maine. In 2010, Kaminski founded the Bluestocking Film Series.

Interviewer Matthew Toffolo is currently the CEO of the WILDsound FEEDBACK Film & Writing Festival. The festival that showcases 10-20 screenplay and story readings performed by professional actors every month. And the FEEDBACK Monthly Festival held in downtown Toronto on the last Thursday of every single month. Go to www.wildsound.ca for more information and to submit your work to the festival.

Interview with Festival Director Jason C. Hignite (HorrorHound Festival)

HorrorHound Weekend Film Festival (as part of HorrorHound Weekend Convention) has been a fan favorite for several years. As the number 2 genre magazine (globally) their fan base draws people from around the world. They host two events per year, one in March (Indianapolis, IN) and one in September (Cincinnati, OH). Their events draw large crowds, with over 12,000 people at our Indianapolis show and over 25,000 people at our Cincinnati show.

Website: www.horrorhound.comwww.horrorhoundweekend.com

Interview with Jason C. Hignite:

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

Jason C. Hignite: Our best offering to an indie filmmaker is exposure. Being that we (HorrorHound) are among the top genre magazines (globally) and that our events are the largest horror-specific in the United States, we are able to do several things. First, with our two events per year, we are able to put indie horror, thriller, sci-fi, dark comedy, etc. films in front of a genre-centric audience. Our events draw 25,000+ at the spring show and 12,000 – 15,000 at the fall show. Granted, our screening rooms may not accommodate all of those people; however, everyone in attendance is exposed to every film we screen (write-ups in the convention exclusive magazine, indie filmmaker panels, filmmaker booths, etc.). Furthermore, our fans are “noisy” … in the best way possible. People who attend our events and sit through the screenings will blast about the films on social media for weeks after each event.

Second, we are also able to promote indie horror films in the magazine and online. Filmmakers who screen at our events receive attention not only from our event promotion, but also on our company website and in our globally distributed magazine (HorrorHound).

Third, we give the filmmakers who attend with their films a chance to speak to the viewers. We offer filmmakers a chance to introduce their film, to do a Q&A after the film, to sit on the indie filmmaker panel, etc. We also offer networking events allowing the filmmakers to meet one another, share ideas, and build relationships.

MT: What would you expect to experience if you attend the festival this year (2016)?

JCH: Our March 2016 event in Cincinnati, Ohio, U.S.A. was a huge success. We had films from around the world. Furthermore, several filmmakers from the U.K. made the trip to the U.S. to premiere their film at HorrorHound. We are always humbled by such an honor. Our fans were treated to some amazing horror films from across the U.S., the U.K., Canada, France, Germany, India, and Iraq. Our event coming in September 2016 (Indianapolis, Indiana, U.S.A.) is shaping up to be another amazing and exciting show. We will have filmmakers (both independent and studio), SFX artists, celebrities, and vendors peddling all things horror and macabre. Check out http://www.horrorhoundweekend.com for more info.

MT: What are the qualifications for the selected films?

JCH: The only “qualification” is genre. The HorrorHound Film Fest screens films within the greater horror genre; including creature features, slashers, thrillers, dark sci-fi, dark fantasy, dark comedy, horror comedy, etc. Beyond that, the films are screened and evaluated by our festival screening committee, who collectively has decades of horror film festival experience.

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

JCH: I believe some films can have a difficult time finding their niche. Many film festivals are thematic and/or genre specific. And, there seems to be a festival for any type of film imaginable. Yet, every so often a filmmaker produces a piece of cinematic brilliance that does not necessarily fit into any particular genre. Or, perhaps their film is too “low-brow” for some of the more elite festivals … and at the same time, too avant garde for the B-movie festivals.

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

JCH: We are motivated by an absolute and almost-obsessive love of film. We are true cinephiles. Though our festivals focus on horror (which we have all loved from our childhoods), we love all genre of film. And, we collectively feel that the most daring, most entertaining, most original, and most FUN horror films today are coming from independent filmmakers.

MT: How has the festival changed since its inception?

JCH: When HorrorHound Weekend began, we screened films; but, for the first few years it was not an official film festival. The HorrorHound Film Festival began big. The convention was already well established. In our first few years we worked with brilliant people like Clive Barker, Dario Argento, Cassandra Peterson (Elvira), etc. to bring new horror to a dedicated audience. We have added staff, upgraded equipment, learned from mistakes, and cultivated our festivals. And, we continue to work with some of the top names in horror as well as many of the exciting up-and-comers.

MT: Where do you see the festival by 2020?

JCH: The horror genre continues to grow. It has gone far beyond cinema and is now dominating television, cable, and VOD entities. If our festival’s trend continues to grow as the market trend grows, I believe we will need to find are larger space for our event that will include more screening rooms. We are already at capacity for our fall event. The convention center that we use for our spring event is adding 50% more space. Hopefully, that can accommodate a few years-worth of growth.

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

JCH: That is a difficult question to answer. My taste in film is as varied as my taste in music, and I treat them both the same way … it depends on my mood. I will list the films I have watched the most times in my life and maybe someone can help piece together my cinematic-schizophrenia: An American Werewolf in London, Squirm, It’s a Wonderful Life, Animal House, Jaws, Cannonball Run, Alien, Psycho, Poltergeist, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, Monty Python’s Quest for the Holy Grail.

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

JCH: A good story in the hands of an adept storyteller, surrounded by gifted artists and technicians, portrayed by a great relationship between director and actors, shot in the perfect location, and scored with the perfect music.

MT: How is the film scene in your city?

JCH: Are events take place in Cincinnati, Ohio (spring) and Indianapolis, Indiana (fall). The film scene in these cities is different. Cincinnati tends to draw and support indie horror better than just about any city in the U.S. Indianapolis is a bit more conservative in regards to horror; however, it is becoming well known for the more dramatic and artistic indie film scene.

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Interviewer Matthew Toffolo is currently the CEO of the WILDsound FEEDBACK Film & Writing Festival. The festival that showcases 10-20 screenplay and story readings performed by professional actors every month. And the FEEDBACK Monthly Festival held in downtown Toronto on the last Thursday of every single month. Go to www.wildsound.ca for more information and to submit your work to the festival.

Interview with Festival Director Jaka Polutnik (Student Cuts Film Festival)

Student Cuts film festival is aimed at young authors in the early stages of their film careers. Their independence lets them work on unconventional, creative, energetic and subtle ideas. Such films are an important insight into the local environments and everyday themes seen from a different perspective. By joining Student Cuts network the authors not only gain access to the big screen, but a network of audiences all over Europe, contacts with experts and simply gain exposure. In the end, films are made to be watched.

Website: www.studentcuts.eu

Interview with Jaka Polutnik

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

Jaka Polutnik: Student Cuts film festival is giving opportunity to be seen to film makers, who are not professionals and they learn the film language through diverse sources. In the 5 years since we started our festival the growth of affiliated events and films submitted has been staggering. We went from 30 submitted films in the first year to more than 2000 for the latest edition. We expanded film screenings to 5 countries: besides Slovenia we are also present in Croatia, Finland, Spain and Portugal. The most screened films have been shown to the audiences up to 13 times at various locations. Films from the festival can also be seen on the regional public television station. We do not have illusions that we will create a new Martin Scorsese as our festival is not dedicated to similar film maker profiles. But we would like to show, there is more than just professional production. We would like to show ideas of amateur film makers that are equally good or even better. Their ideas are unlimited and less self-censored – they are honest and film makers believed in them, and it can be seen on the big screen.

MT: What would you expect to experience if you attend the festival this year (2016)?

JP: We make small steps to progress each year. This year the main driving force is a change of venue. The old city cinema where we hosted the festival over the past few years has unfortunately closed its door so we had to find a new place. Even though the new venue is not a cinema, we believe the ambience is going to be even better. We will be able to offer more of a connection between our guest experts, so our visitors will be able to have some informal time with them, not just listen to their lectures.

MT: What are the qualifications for the selected films?

JP: We have to distinguish between two categories. If we are talking about films at the official selection program, who are in the running for symbolic prizes, we impose several criteria: (1) films need to be under 15 minutes in duration, (2) film maker had to be 30 years old or less at the time the film was finished, (3) films had to be finished in the past two years relative to the date of the festival and (4) films had to be produced without any professional help. All other aspects are open for film makers (topic, techniques, technology etc.). On the other hand we have many promotional events (not all of them are under our organizational control) where we have no limitations. All films, registered to the festival, can be shown at promotional events regardless of the length and other criteria mentioned earlier. It is not against our policy to show films by professionals as well, but they have to be aware we cannot offer any financial compensation in return. Our festival is dedicated to amateur film makers and those who normally do not have the possibility to come show their work on the big screen.

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

JP: Film festivals come in various shapes and sizes. Especially with digitalization the possibilities really are endless. Every author can find a way to distribute her film, if she wants to do it. What we see as a problem, are films done outside of film schools or by other young authors, who learned the film language on their own and really know how to use it. These films are far from perfect, but they can tell us so much. Film language is a language like any other, so I can compare our philosophy with usage of a foreign language. Pretty much everyone has to (or at least should) learn a foreign language at some point. In most cases this just happens to be English, however we could use any other as an example. Some people come close to native speaking proficiency and others have minor or major difficulties with that language. The latter will likely never succeed in a storytelling competition as they cannot compete against those who know how to use the language really well. Nevertheless, people with poorer language proficiency still might have something to tell. And even though sometimes the message is not very clear, the message can be strong and powerful. If they would be heard, it might increase their motivation to improve their language skills and start telling more stories to a bigger audience. And that is what we are trying to do with young film makers. Such niche films are not very interesting for sponsors or wider support, but we believe they are an important step for those who are learning the language of film through alternative ways. The support of our institution, University of Maribor, Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (UM FERI) enables us to work with these films on a low budget and this is the only way we can keep the festival alive and well. Otherwise there is simply not enough financial support to run such a festival as we would like to have. On the other hand the reception by the audience is continuously improving as we have been steadily logging more than 100 people at monthly screenings. Compared to often miserable attendance for major motion pictures at the big city cinemas it clearly shows that such films have a storytelling potential. Film makers just need the opportunity.

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

JP: We have to understand the beginning of the festival to understand the motivation. Everything started as a small local event, where students of Media Communication at the UM FERI wanted to present their work. As the youngest study program we were constantly facing questions like: ”What are you guys actually doing?” or: ”What can you become when you finish the studies?”. We wanted to show, who we are. This was back in 2010. In six years the local media event transformed into a global film festival, our work is on display around Europe from Portugal to Finland and we would like to establish connections with even more partners. It is not about the festival itself, it is about film makers. And even if we achieve all that, we still want to follow the same aim as when we started: to show films of local film makers to diverse audiences. For me, and my closest coworkers, the festival represents a valuable insight into diverse production centers enabling us to forward the knowledge gained to the next generations of students. On the other hand the project is run by students, who get practical experience, references, they meet new people, maybe even contacts for future jobs. Students also want to learn whatever is new in film production and they are a bit oversaturated with Hollywood production. The team of students working on this changes more or less annually and new talents start to organize everything that takes place throughout the year (film festival itself and eight more monthly film nights hosting talks with local authors). The only constant are teaching assistants at the Institute of Media communication, who try to harness everything and focus the work of students towards the main aim of Student Cuts.

MT: How has the festival changed since its inception?

JP: As mentioned, we did not plan to organize the festival in the first place. We just wanted to show the work of our students to the public. Among other work there were some documentary films we wanted to show. Until 2012 the film projections were part of the one day event called Media day. But in 2012 we found that films simply don’t fit to the structure of the event, so we decided that we will screen films separately. The first day was reserved for film projections and the second day was structured around talks by media experts. We invited some partner institutions to join us and send films their students made and we enjoyed a cozy little festival shaped event in 2012 as part of Media day. This was still just 30 films from 5 countries. The following year Mojca Pernat from Film Factory joined the organizing team and with her experience from other festivals we tried to find a form that would fit our needs and that would be more like a festival oriented event. Mojca also used her contacts to promote our film festival and the result was almost 100 films from around 20 countries. As such a response surprised us we did not know what to expect in the future. Nevertheless, so many films gave us a chance to do something more. It panned out in a way that the film festival became the dominant part of the event, taking over the Media day and so the Student Cuts brand was born. As submissions for the 2016 festival just closed, we already know we are dealing with 2519 registered film from 114 countries and during this festival year we will organize, or be a part of, more than 30 events. Such massive growth would not be possible without dedicated students, who work hard and care about the idea behind it. There have been more than 40 students over these years who all deserve massive appreciation for their work; partners, who share a similar philosophy and they see the potential in our idea; and last but not least my coworkers, who have been around for all these years and took care of all the issues largely behind the scenes. As soon as we finish the renovation of our web page, all of them will get a proper place and honorable mention there as Student Cuts would never be so successful without them. So thanks to all who helped Student Cuts to become what it is.

MT: Where do you see the festival by 2020?

JP: As our development in the past 6 years was fast and unpredictable, this becomes a bit of a trick question. I don’t expect any further growth in the amount of submitted films and it would be great if we can remain at the level we are now. We do not predict any major changes for the festival itself at the moment. If financial resources allow, we would like to extend the festival over several days and invite more foreign film makers to the festival, not just the locals. But as long as we are dependent on local companies to support us financially, we do not plan any major changes in near future. The festival is free for film makers and the audience, as this is based on our core philosophy, and it will remain that way in the future as well. Our plans with the festival are aimed more at expanding the Student Cuts affiliate network. We would like to find new, strong partners, who would support us with regular screenings for a growing variety of local communities. It would be nice if these promotional affiliate events would increase to more than 50 per year. That would mean there is on average at least one projection of Student Cuts films per week during the festival year. That would be a nice increase in exposure for all of our film makers. But let’s wait and see what the future brings.

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

JP: Huh, difficult question. I would say War Photographer by Christian Frei from 2001.

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

JP: In very simplistic version I would say the film is great, if the audience accepts the message, the idea of the film, and that it gives them something to think about. Even if it is a light comedy, where you just switch your mind off, you can still get the promising idea behind it. But now these are two sentences already.

MT: How is the film scene in your city?

JP: Well, Maribor is a sleeping giant at this point. In the past we had several city cinemas, but this year the last of them closed its doors and only two multiplexes are operational. Official numbers of sold tickets in these multiplexes rise year to year, but every time I’m in the cinema, it is more or less empty and I can often enjoy the film alone or with only a handful of other moviegoers. As there is no real alternative in the city anymore, we had a giant problem searching for a new place for our festival. The last cinema closed due to many financial problems when the local government denied the support and they refused to return some overpaid rents to the cinema. At the same time Maribor was the only city in Slovenia, where the city cinema didn’t get digital technology for the main screen. Beside the infrastructure, the film offerings are quite poor and we can hardly talk about film diversity. Besides the usual Hollywood films it is hard to find any other production. One of the multiplexes is trying to bring art films in town, but the concept is still under development as this was in the domain of the recently closed cinema in the past. And last but not least, professional film production in this area is poor or almost nonexistent. Even some promising groups of film makers have to move to other parts of Slovenia or abroad in search of better opportunities to create films. That is why it is essential that we encourage our students to produce films and that we keep working on Student Cuts film festival and enrich the local film culture. But in the end you have to accept the fact it is not only up to us to do that.

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Interviewer Matthew Toffolo is currently the CEO of the WILDsound FEEDBACK Film & Writing Festival. The festival that showcases 10-20 screenplay and story readings performed by professional actors every month. And the FEEDBACK Monthly Festival held in downtown Toronto on the last Thursday of every single month. Go to www.wildsound.ca for more information and to submit your work to the festival.

Interview with Festival Director Richard Sowada (Revelation Perth International Film Festival)

Revelation started life in 1997 as an ‘underground’ event in the back room basement of the Greenwich Club, at the time Perth’s smoothest jazz and music venue. All works were screened purely on 16mm film and the festival also featured live music, poetry and guest presentations. Revelation was designed to showcase a range of unique and progressive short, feature, documentary, archival and animated works which were at the forefront of contemporary underground filmmaking, at the same time contextualising these works through a variety of curated archival programs highlighting pivotal points in independent filmmaking. Rapidly outgrowing the intimate surrounds of the Greenwich Club, Revelation now spans venues across Perth and Fremantle and features some of the most acclaimed films from the international film festival scene and includes gallery and installation works, live performances, an academic conference and a unique seminar and masterclass series.

Website: www.revelationfilmfest.org

Interview with Richard Sowada

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

Richard Sowada: The festival environment – just like the wider distribution and exhibition environment – is growing increasing conservative.

We’re very aware of that and as such deliberately take a lot of risks with the kind of films we program. So…there’s many breaks for many films that for other festivals simply are unnoticed. It’s also been a long time since any film festival in Australia was a point of active acquisition for distributors. Rev is becoming that so there’s eyes on what the event is doing and the kinds of movements it’s highlighting.

I really feel we’re exploring new directions in event management, in creative choices and in a long-term view of the creative sector internationally. That can only benefit filmmakers, audiences and the wider community.

MT: What would you expect to experience if you attend the festival this year (2016)?

RS: We’re quite an informal event and really have pushed the red-carpet idea aside for a much more real approach. We have quite a number of local, national and international filmmakers attend so there’s lots of late nights over lots of bottles of wine. We also have an academic conference so there’s lots of late nights over lots of bottles of wine. We also have a number of film industry functions, workshops and masterclasses so there’s lots of late nights over lots of bottles of wine. All this happens all at the same time so all these groups – and audiences – are involved. It’s lots of fun and there’s lots of friends to be made.

MT: What are the qualifications for the selected films?

RS: We don’t have any prizes – we feel that all films selected are on the same level – they’re all excellent! As to the type of films we select…we really try and stay unclouded by what other festivals are doing and any ancillary material that is sent with a film. We look at everything as objectively as we can on a single merit – the film itself. We try and e as open as we can so there’s lots of experimental material in there. Lots of low-budget too but there’s also lots of work from the festival world internationally.

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

RS: Many films don’t get a fair shake.

It’s quite simple for festival directors and programmers to go to Sundance, Berlin, Rotterdam and Toronto and get the big titles. It’s much harder to look beyond what everyone else is doing.

The festivals will generally have selection panels that look at everything else submitted to the event or as advisors on more specialised content. As a result I feel that most festivals are disconnected within themselves…there’s too many opinions and given the imperative to be financially and strategically successful risk is being leeched out – there’s a lack of cohesion across the program and rather than an emphatic statement of the creative world they’re often a diluted tasting plate.

With us there’s only two people that look at ALL the work – including the hundreds of titles submitted in the call for entries. As a result I feel Rev has a real consolidated energy and can get a real fix of the mood of the international creative community and join as many dots together as we can. That allows us to deliver a picture made up of hard choices and editorial comment.

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

RS: The fact that we’re constantly doing something new and dealing with and responding to new ideas. The people and ideas we deal with on a daily basis are brilliant – and we’re doing it in a very tough town to do it in. Our team all understand the grand experiment and that keeps it alive and fresh. We all keep ourselves open to learning new things about ourselves, the event and audiences all the time so things are constantly on the move for us creatively and intellectually. We’re never bored.

MT: How has the festival changed since its inception?

RS: Not much really – it’s just got bigger. We have introduced new components – like the academic conference and gallery based moving image shows but in principle the ideas, energy and to a large extent the programming ethos is still the same as it was. Everything we’re doing now is in early business plans of close to 20 years ago and we new back then these kinds of things take a long time to grow and cement their place – and we’re still here and still growing.

Overall though we do have more guests and a greater level of logistic and more films but in essence the event core is as it was which is good. It doesn’t try to second guess itself. It doesn’t try to second guess any other event and it doesn’t try to be something it’s not. This is what gives it such a strong personality. It’s genuine and approachable. You’ll see all our crew and guests and others eating pizza and drinking and socialising with anyone who wants to join us at any time.

MT: Where do you see the festival by 2020?

RS: It’s nearly that now! But we’re looking at involving other language groups and cultures more directly in the programming by mentoring young people at risk in areas of event management, publicity and logistics. The aim is that they’d present smaller curated programs to their communities within their communities. This will of course broaden our reach but also have a very real and positive community impact.

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

RS: The Towering Inferno. I love it.

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

RS: An understanding of what makes a great film.

MT: How is the film scene in your city?

RS: In Melbourne where I live it’s quite good. Lots of festivals, lots of independent filmmaking and the audiences are very responsive. In Perth where Revelation takes place it’s come a very long way. There’s now a high-level of production with some excellent filmmakers coming from there. The films – including the shorts – have a real sense of identity and you can tell the films made in WA. I think it needs to open its mind a little more and change perspectives on what a film is and what it can do…but that’s our job to assist with…and I think we’ve have a big hand in helping the industry in Western Australia grow.

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Interview with Festival Director Ron Bonk (Scare-A-Con Film Festival)

Scare-A-Con started off as The B-Movie Film Festival back in 1999 and has run nonstop ever since.  It takes place during the convention which attracts 5,000 attendees and 100s of celebrity guests.

Website: http://www.scareacon.com/

Ron Bonk is a producer, director and distributor for SRS Cinema, having produced some 40+ movies and directed 10 himself, most recently a homage to 1970’s Grindhouse films, “She Kills”.

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

Ron Bonk: I think exposure to distributors, a lot of the motion pictures we screen secure distribution, including the shorts.

MT: What would you expect to experience if you attend the festival this year (2016)?

RB: Some of the most offbeat, obscure indie flicks you will eveer see anywhere.

MT: What are the qualifications for the selected films?

RB: We are open to all motion pictures as long as they are horror, sci-fi or fantasy.

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

RB: Certainly, and hard to say, it can be different from fest to fest. Some just go thru the motions, only watching a handful and just selecting those. Others it can be who you know.

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

RB: Just pure love of indie and underground cinema.

MT: How has the festival changed since its inception?

RB: Well it has zeroed in on horror, scifi and fantasy, plus developed from the B-Movie Film Festival to Scare-A-Con as part of the convention.

MT: Where do you see the festival by 2020?

RB: It’s growing rapidly, I see higher profile screenings among the regular festival entries, and more showing slots for the entries, with more and more guest attendance and participation.

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

RB: Star Wars, the original one, A New Hope, tho Jaws is only a screening or two behind.

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

RB: A great film entertains its intended audience.

MT: How is the film scene in your city?

RB: We have quite a few filmmakers, 99% work under the radar but they are making movies!

 

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Interviewer Matthew Toffolo is currently the CEO of the WILDsound FEEDBACK Film & Writing Festival. The festival that showcases 10-20 screenplay and story readings performed by professional actors every month. And the FEEDBACK Monthly Festival held in downtown Toronto on the last Thursday of every single month. Go to www.wildsound.ca for more information and to submit your work to the festival.

Interview with Festival Director Tim Baldwin (Studio 35 Cinema Film Festival)

Get ready for the second annual Studio 35 Cinema Comedy Film Festival (S35CCFF) taking place at Columbus’ oldest independent movie theater. Located in the heart of Clintonville, the S35CCFF features the newest and funniest independent film and shorts from around the country. What goes better together than comedy and a beer! A whole weekend is dedicated to showing the best independent comedy features and shorts, while drinking the best draft beers of the Midwest.

Website: http://www.studio35.com/

Interview with Tim Baldwin:

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

Tim Baldwin: We’re able to show their shorts and features on a big screen in DCP format. Not on a pull up screen in a hotel auditorium, or something like that. We’re an independent theater in Columbus, and we can show what we want. You make a movie to see on the big screen, and we will do that. I wish we had some panels for filmmakers, but we will do a Q&A. And since we’re small, there’s a lot of opportunities to just hang out and discuss films. We love supporting films after they’re been here as well.

MT: What would you expect to experience if you attend the festival this year (2016)?

TB: Some funny international short films. We’ve had a great submission year for international shorts. This sounds ridiculous, but we have a swag bag this year that I think is great for filmmakers. Great draft beer. A Ghostbusters pinball game.

MT: What are the qualifications for the selected films?

TB: Since we’re a comedy film fest, it’s as easy as make us laugh. We’ve received a lot of shorts and features that are good, but not funny. They would play great at a film festival, but not at a COMEDY film festival. And the regular technical aspects like make sure we can hear the film, and see it. The judges and I struggle with shorts that are technically not good, but maybe humorous. It needs to look good, maybe not polished or too polished, but look like it wasn’t shot with a camcorder. And the story has to be great. That’s the least expensive thing about a film you can do. Make a good story that we care about. All the best equipment in the world won’t make an unfunny story funny.

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

TB: If you mean, why don’t films get selected, it could be a lot of reasons. As a filmmaker who has submitted to over hundreds of festivals, I wonder the same. And I’ve found out that it’s just subjective to some extent. Some movies don’t fit the program, or some are too long to be included, or just not the genre they were looking for. But a lot of it comes down to, someone didn’t like it or get it. Doesn’t mean it wasn’t good or anything, just didn’t fit.

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

TB: I wanted to create a festival to show shorts and features that our community would not normally see. I wanted to create a fun atmosphere of filmmakers and moviegoers. And I wanted to meet filmmakers. Good film motivates me.

MT: How has the festival changed since its inception?

TB: Well, it’s only our second year, so not a lot. We shortened the festival to three days this year. Since our attendance wasn’t as great as I hoped, we don’t have an awards ceremony or anything. I hope to have something more substantial in future years.

MT: Where do you see the festival by 2020?

TB: If we’re still doing it, lol, I’d like to have more shorts and films from well known artists but below the radar studio pictures. I’d like to have it be a cool location for filmmakers to come see their films. I’d like to have more of the community to attend, and in return give something back to local groups and events. I hope to make it more of an event for our community. We’re finding our footing now, seeing where we fit.

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

TB: Easy. Star Wars. I’m a small filmmaker as well, producing and making short films for twenty years. So Star Wars was a huge inspiration and influence in my life.

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

TB: A great film makes me care about the characters and what will happen to them.

MT: How is the film scene in your city?

TB: We have a nice little film production community here in Columbus. Many people help out with other people’s productions. Columbus is working hard to bring the bigger budgeted movie here. Many of the professional crew work on these, and national spots. Columbus, also, has tons of international companies headquartered here that do production work. For viewing films, we have the Ohio State’s Wexner Center, which is second to none in programming films. The Gateway Film Center is also amazing in programming films and having special events that the people can get involved with. Our little single screen theater is great for community events, and watching movies with a great crowd as well.

Tim Baldwin BIO: Loving movies all his life, Tim entered Bowling Green State University with an emphasis of film production and studies. After taking an internship in Columbus, Ohio, Tim moved there in 1994. Tim worked at a production house for four year, moving from grip/production assistant to online editor. As a second job, he was a projectionist at three movie theaters in town, watching movies all the time. Wanting something more, he moved to Los Angeles in 1998 to expand his career and fulfill a dream of working in movies. After working on six films, including “The Heist”, “Buddy Boy” and “Way of the Gun” as a post production assistant, Tim wanted to try a different avenue to get his films made. So he moved back to Ohio and has worked as an AVID editor and video producer since 2000. He loves watching movies with his young son and spending time with his Key Make-up Artist wife.

Tim has wrote, directed and edited six short films, one feature length film “Garage Sale” and a documentary about Studio35, the longest running single screen movie theater in Ohio. He also is program director for the Studio35 Comedy Film Festival, now in it’s second year.

 

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Interviewer Matthew Toffolo is currently the CEO of the WILDsound FEEDBACK Film & Writing Festival. The festival that showcases 10-20 screenplay and story readings performed by professional actors every month. And the FEEDBACK Monthly Festival held in downtown Toronto on the last Thursday of every single month. Go to www.wildsound.ca for more information and to submit your work to the festival.

Interview with Festival Director Nathalia Lemos (Flamingo Film Festival)

The Flamingo Film Festival is dedicated to exhibiting the international short films and videos produced by student filmmakers. For the past 3 years, this event, held in South Florida, has honored outstanding narrative, documentary, experimental, and animated projects created by students while enrolled in a college, university, or other post-secondary institution.

Website: flamingofilmfest.com

Interview with Nathalia Lemos:

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

Nathalia Lemos: The festival is giving student filmmakers the opportunity to have their work screened not only for their peers, but also for a diverse audience of festival goers.

MT: What would you expect to experience if you attend the festival this year (2016)?

NL: Anyone attending the festival this year can expect a diverse showcase of student films. Festival goers will have the unique opportunity to see a variety of films not only from local student filmmakers, but also student films from abroad.

MT: What are the qualifications for the selected films?

NL: Well, we are definitely looking for films that are creative and original. We want to offer our audience the opportunity to discover new voices that have fresh and interesting perspectives.

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

NL: The goal of a festival is to curate a well rounded program. While yes, I am sure that there are films that don’t get a “fair shake,” here at the Flamingo Film Festival we are giving filmmakers from all over the world the opportunity to have their films reach a wider audience.

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

NL: The Flamingo Film Festival is dedicated to exhibiting the short films from student filmmakers from all over the world. Our goal is to continue to encourage student creativity and to recognize achievement in the film and video medium.

MT: How has the festival changed since its inception?

NL: The festival is now in its 3rd year. And while the mission and goals remain the same, the festival has definitely increased it’s traction with international student filmmakers.

MT: Where do you see the festival by 2020?

NL: By 2020 I definitely see the Flamingo Film Festival as one of the most important international student film festivals in the country.

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

NL: Bram Stoker’s Dracula.

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

NL: In my opinion, a great film is one that remains interesting and engaging no matter how many times you see it. A film that can remain relevant 20 or more years from now.

MT: How is the film scene in your city?

NL: The South Florida film scene is very diverse and vibrant. South Florida is offering filmmakers the opportunity to create fresh and interesting work. I would say that South Florida is currently a terrific haven for independent filmmakers looking for the ease and space to develop their work.

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Interviewer Matthew Toffolo is currently the CEO of the WILDsound FEEDBACK Film & Writing Festival. The festival that showcases 10-20 screenplay and story readings performed by professional actors every month. And the FEEDBACK Monthly Festival held in downtown Toronto on the last Thursday of every single month. Go to www.wildsound.ca for more information and to submit your work to the festival.