Interview with Festival Director Nathan Fleet (Hamilton Film Festival)

The 11th Annual Hamilton Film Festival (HFF XI) is one of Canada’s most important up-and-coming film festivals. This year’s festival will feature over $15,000 in prize value, plus the opportunity to network with, and pitch your projects to, film buyers, agents, distributors and other film-makers.

Interview with Festival Director Nathan Fleet

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

Nathan Fleet: Quality networking and in the past 2 years, getting distributors interested in our content, which is why we are bringing the Canadian Film Market this year.

So many filmmakers have met and made films because of their meeting at HFF

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

NF: The biggest change is the Canadian Film Market. The focus will be on film sales, film pitches and coproductions with Canada. This will be an affordable opportunity for people to participate in a Market setting along side our film festival. As far as the festival goes, our programming team is exceptional so you will see some of the world’s best films, including Canada. Our policy is to not pre select a theme or genre. We let the submissions dictate the way our festival looks.

MT: What are the qualifications for the selected films?

NF: Honestly, if it is good, we want to see in on our screens. Again, our programming team have keen eyes for great material. It blows me away sometimes that some of the top tier don’t accept some of these. We also have room for First Time Filmmakers and Student films and we don’t scale them as harshly as we might for an established production company.

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

NF: I do and while I am sure each has their own reason, it is nearly impossible for a festival to program everything they receive.

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

NF: Initially it was a cool thing to do to gather some films and screen them one evening. What better way to network with a hundred filmmakers in one week!

I’m a filmmaker as well so this is definitely the type of event I want to attend.

MT: How has the festival changed since its inception?

NF: We grew and grew but maintained our local connection. Our tag is Locally Focused, Internationally Recognized. We always want to make sure that we have room for local filmmakers to grow and exhibit. We earn the “Hamilton” in our title.

MT: Where do you see the festival by 2020?

NF: Unless there is a drastic change in formats and viewing habits, I love the road we are on. I would love for the Festival and the Market to become a destination and I think that is where we are already headed.

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

NF: Star Wars: Episode IV

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

NF: There is no one thing as it is a combination of all craftspeople presenting their best within the project.

MT: How is the film scene in your city?

NF: It’s growing everyday. We have a new film district with Digital Canaries, we have more and more talent from Toronto moving into the city, we have an 11 year old Festival and now a Film Market. You will be able to take your film from Concept to Acquisition in Hamilton.


Nathan Fleet is a professional musician, filmmaker and educator from Hamilton Ontario Canada.
​He runs the Hamilton Film Festival, the Hamilton Film Expo,  the Canadian Film Market and Blue Pick Media.

In 2015, Nathan travelled to Comic-Con International in San Diego to support the screening of his short comedy Air Knob, which has screened around the world in theatres, broadcast and in the air!

​He is currently working to complete his rock album Talk To The Machine, which is expected in 2016.

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 Fesival held in downtown Toronto on the last Thursday of every single month. Go to for more information and to submit your work to the festival.

Interview with Festival Director of the Hamilton Film Festival

Interview with Nathan Fleet, Festival Director:

Filmmaker / Composer Nathan Fleet has been running the Hamilton Film Festival for 8 years out of the historic Staircase Theatre in Hamilton On, Canada.

With an emphasis on local, the Hamilton Film Festival has grown into an internationally recognized festival receiving entries from over 40 countries.

10th Annual Hamilton Film Festival
Nov 2 – 8th 2015

Matthew Toffolo interviews Nathan Fleet:

Matthew Toffolo: Why is the city of Hamilton the perfect fit for what you’re showcasing at the festival?

Nathan: The art scene in Hamilton is booming in many ways and people are looking for alternates from the traditional or popular multiplex screenings. The Hamilton Film Festival offers people a chance to see some amazing films that were made by local filmmakers as well as seeing some international gems that they would otherwise never hear about.

MT: What is the goal of your film festival?

Nathan: Our goal is, and has always been, very simple. Show great films.

MT: How has the festival changed since is began until now?

Nathan: Originally, we only screened local submissions but as word spread, we started getting national and international entries. Once we started accepting online, our submissions quadrupled. We also started in a single theatre and last year we expanded to four.

MT: How many films are you showcasing at your Film Festival this year in how many days?

Nathan: In 2014 we screened 149 films over 7 days in 4 theatres. Many of those films were shorts and we screened about 14 feature length.

MT: Can you give us a sneak peak of what to expect for the 2015 Festival?

Nathan: In 2015, our 10th anniversary, we want to honour our alumni and host a few “best of” screenings leading up to the festival. As for the festival itself, if it isn’t broke… We want to make changes slowly and as needed. We are confident that our programming and atmosphere will always be the main draw of the festival.

MT: Is there going to be an overall theme for the 2015 festival?

Nathan: The overall theme will be a celebration of our 10th year with a spotlight on the great filmmakers that helped us get there. Remembering our roots.

MT: Where do you see your festival in 5 years?

Nathan: I do see us expanding into a multi theatre, cross city festival. While we have primarily existed in the downtown area, we want to earn the “Hamilton” in our title and bring films to all communities in this growing city

MT: What’s the current status of the Film Scene in Hamilton?

Nathan: The film scene is vibrant and growing but isn’t without it’s struggles and barriers. While we have some incredible talent, there aren’t a lot of jobs for them within the city. Hamilton has been a working town in the past and that holds true today. The work doesn’t just come to you, you have to work to get it.

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

Nathan: Star Wars: A New Hope (1977 version) Easily in the 200 times mark. Once VHS came into my life, it was on constant repeat.

MT: What else are you passionate about besides running this festival?

Nathan: My main passion and career is in music (teaching, composing for film & tv) and the festival was just a side project. Now I am balancing the two. I also make a movie once every few years. I do love cinema. After administering 560 films, selecting 149 of them, projecting about 130 of them, I went to the library and borrowed some movies. I’m a Cinemaniac.

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Matthew Toffolo, Interviewer BIO

Matthew Toffolo is the current CEO of the WILDsound Film and Writing Festival ( He had worked for the organization since its inception in 2007 serving as the Short Film Festival’s moderator during the Audience Feedback sessions.

Filmmaker of over 20 short films and TV episodes. Took over full reins of the WILDsound Festival in May 2013. From then to the end of 2014, he’s presented over 90 movies at the monthly FEEDBACK Film Festival in Toronto, plus has had over 60 screenplays and stories performed by professional actors at the bi-monthly Writing Festival.