Interview with Festival Director Otessa Ghadar (DC Web Fest)

The DC Web and Digital Media Festival highlights the best of the web. The festival goes beyond web series to include various forms of digital media, such as Short Films, Screenwriting, and Game/App development. The MISSION of this festival is to Entertain, Educate, and Promote these new and innovative art forms.

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

Otessa Ghadar: The DC Web Fest is a great platform for independent digital media creators to showcase and promote their work. We have a total of six categories: web series, digital shorts/trailers, games, apps, AR/VR, and blogs/scripts. At the festival, shows have been picked up for distribution. Some of our web series have moved on to television and many of our games have moved on to major consoles like Xbox, PlayStation 4, and Nintendo Switch. The DC Web Fest is also a place where industry players come in search of exceptional content.

2) What would you expect to experience if you attend your upcoming festival?

I would expect to experience a wide range of digital content in addition to educational panels where I can learn from industry professionals, from writers, directors, and producers to digital marketing experts, podcasters, and IP law professionals. I would expect to meet many like minded creatives and form meaningful, productive relationships. Mostly, I would expect be uplifted, entertained, and educated with the best of indie digital content.

3) What are the qualifications for the selected films?

The main elements we look for are strong original story with conflict and character arc, production quality, and strong editing. There are specific criteria that can be found on our FilmFreeway page through https://dcwebfest.org/submit.

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

As a woman and minority owned organization, the DC Web Fest is devoted to inclusion and diversity. There is definitely division and underrepresentation, which need to be addressed. That’s why we are currently working on a side project (Analyzing Diversity in Media) that collects data to highlight the various issues with diversity in media. Please help us make a difference by taking just a few moments to complete our questionnaire! Here is the link: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSdVdyT5Up16Mm-jed0CZKAiJ52iVQXkn3Z4KMANuAYEbopS8g/viewform

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

Indie creators need to know that there are platforms that freely welcome their ideas that are rejected by Hollywood. The indie community is like a family, and we need to all ban together to keep the indie spirit strong. DC is a vibrant city full of creatives. We want them to know that there is a place to call home. They don’t have to travel to the major markets (i.e. LA and NY) to tell their stories. They can tell their stories right here- in DC where many are hungry for authentic, creative digital content. Each year, our creatives have shown their gratitude and many continue to excel.

6) How has your FilmFreeway submission process been?

Our experience with FilmFreeway has been quite positive. It would be great if we could make the process more personalized. But since our inception (year 1), we’ve seen submissions increase by a multiple of 20.

7) Where do you see the festival by 2023?

By 2023 we will be showing work that our minds haven’t yet conceived of…and that’s just how we like it. The future is in our blood over here.

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

We were film majors! Where shall we begin?! The Graduate (just to name one). We can send a spreadsheet of our favorite films if you would like.

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

A strong storyline with a clear, concise goal, conflict, and characters who progress throughout make a good film. sometimes the conflict or goal need not be so clearly defined. Sometimes, a strong story, with meaningful characters can hit a nerve and unite a viewership. It’s not so cut and dry. There is a structure, but there is also more than that. It’s all about knowing “the rules”, then knowing how and when to break them.

10) How is the film scene in your city?

DC is full of energetic, passionate filmmakers and storytellers. There are other festivals that also serve as platforms for local filmmakers to showcase and promote their work, such as the DC Black Film Festival. DC Web Fest founder, Otessa Ghadar, serves on the advisory board of the DC Black Film Festival. DC Shorts is another popular local film festival.

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Interview with Festival Director Brian Hopson (LOST SANITY FILM FESTIVAL)

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

Brian Hopson: The Lost Sanity Film festival gives attention and recognition to filmmakers who may not have the biggest of budgets, but they have an important story to share with the world. We promote them on our website, as well as bring them attention via local press here in NYC and we do our best to share films which really strike a chord with us to our friends in film distribution.

2) What would you expect to experience if you attend your upcoming festival?

We are a fun, professional and quirky festival all in one. You can expect to have a joyous time with other filmmakers and you may just walk out with one of our prestigious Golden Zombie Trophies !!!!

3) What are the qualifications for the selected films?

We are first and foremost looking for a great story. We have produced films ourselves so we understand you may have financial limitations in terms of film production, so give us something original, well written and with quality acting and there’s an excellent chance you will be invited to be part of our event !

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

Yes, we believe that certain festivals rely solely on a “big budget” look and as a result some independent gems can get lost in the shuffle. We review all films sent to us – our five judge panel promise that we watch the ENTIRE submission, not just a portion before making our decisions.

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

We saw a need to bring films to the New Jersey area, as well as help independent filmmakers gain some attention (and possibly land a distribution deal with some of our associates) . In a nutshell, we just love films and artists !!!!!!!!

6) How has your FilmFreeway submission process been?

It’s been wonderful, this will be our second film festival and we’ve already noticed a tremendous upward spike in submissions from just a year ago. We attribute this to being very honest with our feedback and running our festival with integrity ( plus our trophies are pretty badass if i do say so myself )

7) Where do you see the festival by 2023?

We see on limits to where this could go, we are already exploring multiple venues for upcoming festivals in the years ahead in NJ / New York and The Philadelphia area !

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

That would be a toss up between “THE SHINING” and “It’s A Wonderful Life”

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

A compelling story with engaging writing and actors who are so invested in the material that you forget they’re acting !

10) How is the film scene in your city?

In New York it’s wonderful….. we are just across the river in the Hoboken/Jersey City area and we are proud to say that it’s really growing rapidly. We are honored to bring great films to New Jersey !

https://filmfreeway.com/TheLostSanityOnlineFilmFestival

October 2018 – Read Interviews with the best of NEW Poetry and Writers

Interviews by Matthew Toffolo

Touch the link and read 9 different interviews with the best of new writers and poets from around the world.

Interview with Poet Lauren White (First Contact)
Interview with Poet Lauren White (First Contact)

Interview with Poet Susan L. Brown (Response To 8 Philosophers)
Interview with Poet Susan L. Brown (Response To 8 Philosophers)

Interview with Poet Sam Allen (Viola’s Rebellion)
Interview with Poet Sam Allen (Viola’s Rebellion)

Interview with Writer Pat Jourdan (DECEMBER)
Interview with Writer Pat Jourdan (DECEMBER)

Interview with Writer Peter Inson (HATS OFF TO THE TEACHERS, SMASHED)
Interview with Writer Peter Inson (HATS OFF TO THE TEACHERS, SMASHED)

Interview with Writer Diane Elliott (Remembering Momma)
Interview with Writer Diane Elliott (Remembering Momma)

Interview with Nia Markos (ELEMENTS: BOOK ONE)
Interview with Nia Markos (ELEMENTS: BOOK ONE)

Interview with Novelist James Charles (Spirit Of The Amaroq)
Interview with Novelist James Charles (Spirit Of The Amaroq)

Interview with Novelist Bogdan Dzakovic (FORTRESS OF DECEIT)
Interview with Novelist Bogdan Dzakovic (FORTRESS OF DECEIT)

October 2018 – Read the best of Filmmaker Interviews

Interviews by Matthew Toffolo

Touch the link and read 28 different interviews with the best of new filmmakers from around the world.


Interview with Filmmaker Deniz Campinar (THE REVELATOR)
Interview with Filmmaker Deniz Campinar (THE REVELATOR)

Interview with Filmmaker Nesli Ozalp Tuncer (THE RETURN)
Interview with Filmmaker Nesli Ozalp Tuncer (THE RETURN)

Interview with Filmmaker Liz Lachman (PIN-UP)
Interview with Filmmaker Liz Lachman (PIN-UP)

Interview with Filmmaker Sean Janisse (LOCOMOTIVE 8 – ENCORE)
Interview with Filmmaker Sean Janisse (LOCOMOTIVE 8 – ENCORE)

Interview with Filmmaker Penny Lee (THROUGH CHINATOWNS’S EYES: APRIL 1968)
Interview with Filmmaker Penny Lee (THROUGH CHINATOWNS’S EYES: APRIL 1968)

Interview with Filmmaker Graeme Bachiu (WHY WE PUSH?)
Interview with Filmmaker Graeme Bachiu (WHY WE PUSH?)

Interview with Filmmaker Jessica Chung (SUSHI MAN)
Interview with Filmmaker Jessica Chung (SUSHI MAN)

Interview with Filmmaker Luma Oquendo (SARAVÁ)
Interview with Filmmaker Luma Oquendo (SARAVÁ)

Interview with Filmmaker Manfred Borsch (MIRRORS)
Interview with Filmmaker Manfred Borsch (MIRRORS)

Interview with Filmmaker Nancy Allison (MARMO)
Interview with Filmmaker Nancy Allison (MARMO)

Interview with Filmmaker Pablo Mengin-Lecreulx (SCANDAL)
Interview with Filmmaker Pablo Mengin-Lecreulx (SCANDAL)

Interview with Filmmakers Hope Carew & Allison O’Conor (MR. NICE GIRLS)
Interview with Filmmakers Hope Carew & Allison O’Conor (MR. NICE GIRLS)

Interview with Award Winning Filmmaker Sreejith Nair (THE COLOR OF ME)
Interview with Award Winning Filmmaker Sreejith Nair (THE COLOR OF ME)

Interview with Filmmaker Ken Clark (SNIP)
Interview with Filmmaker Ken Clark (SNIP)

Interview with Filmmaker Daniel Bergeson (UNEARTHED)
Interview with Filmmaker Daniel Bergeson (UNEARTHED)

Interview with Filmmaker Mischa Livingstone (CUBICLE)
Interview with Filmmaker Mischa Livingstone (CUBICLE)

Interview with Filmmaker Peta Milan (RIGHT TO BE FORGOTTEN)
Interview with Filmmaker Peta Milan (RIGHT TO BE FORGOTTEN)

Interview with Filmmaker Shinya Isobe (FOR REST)
Interview with Filmmaker Shinya Isobe (FOR REST)

Interview with Filmmaker Sam South (EAT JEREMY)
Interview with Filmmaker Sam South (EAT JEREMY)

Interview with Filmmaker Larissa Pruett (GET HOME SAFE)
Interview with Filmmaker Larissa Pruett (GET HOME SAFE)

Interview with Filmmaker Steve Socki (HALLOWSTIDE)
Interview with Filmmaker Steve Socki (HALLOWSTIDE)

Interview with Filmmaker Jessica Champneys (STAR WARS: DRESCA)
Interview with Filmmaker Jessica Champneys (STAR WARS: DRESCA)

Interview with Filmmaker Sean Wehrli (GLENDALE)
Interview with Filmmaker Sean Wehrli (GLENDALE)

Interview with Filmmaker Nora Jaenicke (WHALES)
Interview with Filmmaker Nora Jaenicke (WHALES)

Interview with Filmmaker Zena AbdelBaky (ALL THAT REMAINS)
Interview with Filmmaker Zena AbdelBaky (ALL THAT REMAINS)

Interview with Filmmaker Audrey Arkins (AMERICAN BOY)
Interview with Filmmaker Audrey Arkins (AMERICAN BOY)

Interview with Filmmaker Aaron Rudelson (NORMAN PINSKI COME HOME)
Interview with Filmmaker Aaron Rudelson (NORMAN PINSKI COME HOME)

Interview with Filmmaker Eugene Lehnert (THE OUTER BOROUGHS)
Interview with Filmmaker Eugene Lehnert (THE OUTER BOROUGHS)

Interview with Filmmaker Josiah Cuneo (IN THROUGH THE NIGHT)
Interview with Filmmaker Josiah Cuneo (IN THROUGH THE NIGHT)

Interview with Festival Director Martin Tran (Seattle Asian American Film Festival)

Seattle Asian American Film Festival (SAAFF) is the only film festival in Seattle to provide a space for Asian American voices, perspectives and histories by screening independent films that reflect the diversity and richness of the city’s Asian American community.

Web: seattleaaff.org
Facebook: facebook.com/seattleaaff

Twitter: twitter.com/seattleaaff
 
Matthew Toffolo: What is your Film Festival succeeding at doing for filmmakers?

Martin Tran: Our greatest success as a festival is how we grow a supportive community for our filmmakers. As independent Asian American filmmakers, it’s important to us that we connect them with people who are hungry to hear their stories, and to champion them and their work in the future.

It starts with partnering with local community organizations to help promote the films. For each screening we select organizations that have thematic alignment with the films, which plugs the filmmakers into organizations and communities that are eager to engage.

We also create spaces for the filmmakers to meet and engage with each other; from brunches to VIP rooms to parties. We’re all in this together so let’s connect and celebrate it!

And we as festival organizers we are such a tight knit group that we want to make the filmmakers feel like part of our community. They did the hard work of making a film for us to showcase, and we want to let them know that we appreciate them and will support them in all their future endeavors. To that end we always spread the word whenever they have screenings, crowdfunding campaigns, and new projects.

2) What would you expect to experience if you attend your upcoming festival?

From a first time festival goer to our longtime festival pass holders, we expect our audiences to see the type of films that are rarely showcased; ones that will reflect, entertain, and illuminate the experiences of the Asian diaspora.

3) What are the qualifications for the selected films?

We have a large team of volunteers who rate and review the submissions, and all of the reviewers come with their own tastes and experiences. What we ask them to look for most is originality, craft, content, and adherence to our mission of being a space to tell the stories of the Asian diaspora. How a reviewer personally defines that though is entirely up to them. Using the rating system as outlined by Film Freeway, which is a film submission tool used by many film festivals, our programming team aggregates the data and selects the highest rated films. And at a final, in-person meeting, that’s when the bleary eyed debates ensue.

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

It’s hard for me to speak for other film festivals, but in my opinion I believe so. There are so many things that go into selecting films for a festival; your audience, sponsors, mission, you name it. There’s also the notion of what is a festival worthy film. Like it has to be “important” or a “prestige” film. Luckily there are so many festivals out there catering to different audiences and tastes that I believe if you made a good film, no matter the topic or style, there is a festival and audience out there for you.

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

It may be a corny answer but it’s love. We’re an all-volunteer organization putting in crazy amounts of our free time to make it happen, and we wouldn’t be able to do it without the love. Love for film, community, advocacy, and for each other. We’re a family as much as a festival organizing team, and we always strive to extend that feeling to our filmmakers and filmgoers alike.

6) How has your FilmFreeway submission process been?

FilmFreeway has been a great tool for us. It’s an easy way for filmmakers to find and submit to festivals like ours. The review and rating process is very streamlined, and it’s nice to have all that data for us.

7) Where do you see the festival by 2023?

I would like to see SAAFF continue to grow as we do every year. By 2023 we will be putting on our 11th festival, and I would like to see us become an even greater part of Seattle’s film scene with bigger venues, more films, and more events.

And in those five years I hope the Crazy Rich Asians effect will continue to bear fruit. 2018 has seen a lot of momentum for Asian American stories in Hollywood, and I hope it continues. So I would love to see an influx of filmmakers who had greater support than before, and a new generation of Asian American filmmakers following in the footsteps of those who opened the doors for them.

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

For me it would have to be The Princess Bride. I’m a sucker for action, comedy, fantasy, and intergenerational family stories.

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

Story. Story. Story.

10) How is the film scene in your city?

I love the film scene in Seattle. There are so many people doing great, independent work. It’s a very supportive community that just continues to grow. Support from the city and state side though…that could use improvement. But hopefully we’ll get there.
 

 

 

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Interview with Festival Director Daryl Bates (A SHORT NIGHT)

A Short Night consists of a variety of short films. The majority are produced, directed, and acted by local film talent. These films range from drama, horror to films that deal with current “hot button” issues. This event is a chance for local film makers to get their creativity and talent, in front of lovers of film.

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

Daryl Bates : Our goal for film makers is to get their projects seen. That’s our number one priority. We know there’s a ton of talent literally floating around. We want the up and comers, the dreamers, the people who never give up. Hollywood is running out of ideas for films. We are seeing a lot of retreads. What better place to find uniqueness and originality than regular everyday people.

People who have a different perspective on things. For example, one of my favorite movies is the original Paranormal Activity. It wasn’t the brain child of a Hollywood executive or the hottest screen writer. It was a regular guy who had an idea and made something special.

2) What would you expect to experience if you attend your upcoming festival?

Attendees can expect a broad range of short films. Since each short is five minutes or less, festival goers will have a different experience every five minutes. One minute you could be looking at a tear jerker while five minutes later you could be fully enthralled in a horror film.

3) What are the qualifications for the selected films?

As far as qualifications, we are lax. Of course, the usual, it has to be your work, you have to have the necessary permissions, sound quality has to be sufficient. We also want to keep it as fan friendly as possible. No explicit nudity, over the top coarseness etc. But for our films, each film should be five minutes or less. We are looking for a quick dynamic story. Our goal, when the
five minute film is completed is to have our audience saying “Wow, I want to see more of that!”

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

It’s like anything else, we can’t really expect fairness. The world isn’t a fair place, it’s not right, but it’s the way that it is. A lot of film festivals aren’t immune to this reality. Film festivals are usually looking for “something” in particular. That something, in their eyes, should cater to the
main stream. If they don’t see that “something” they will probably move on. With our festival, we are looking at concepts. Concepts that can be expanded and created into something more.

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

I guess the biggest motivation is the You Tube Short that I saw a few years ago called “Lights Out” I was impressed with the simplicity of it and its originality. Obviously Lights Out went on to become a Hollywood movie, and a sequel is in the works. I’m convinced there are others out there just like it.

We know for certain, there are talented people out there. We understand that life happens, and making a living takes precedent. We want to awaken those individuals. Have those individuals keep dreaming keep pursuing. Dust off those old shorts, and let’s display them. The world needs their unique creativity. Our goal is to find that type of person.

6) How has your Film Freeway submission process been?

Film Freeway has been great so far, it has been a one stop shop for us. From tickets to submissions, to website integration. Exactly what we were looking for.

7) Where do you see the festival by 2023?

In the next five years we are planning to have more of the same. Getting exposure for more people. Like anything else we will probably have to tweak a few things, but we fully expect to have larger venues, more eyeballs on the shorts that our talented Film makers are producing, and hopefully at least a few of our shorts become major motion pictures.

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

Probably “The Shawshank Redemption” or “The Mist”.

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

Really hard to answer, lovers of film have different taste depending on mood. And different criteria based on genre. In other words, I liked the movie Avengers for different reasons than what made me like The Shawshank Redemption. But I thought they were both good films, which is why we created the five minutes or less criteria for our festival. It has the ability to cater to moods.

There is one thing that I like about films, and that’s the conflicts between characters, anything that makes the audience pick a side or makes you think. Like ‘12 Angry Men’

10) How is the film scene in your city?

Atlanta is a great film city. Quickly being regarded as the “New Hollywood.” The state has invested in creating an atmosphere to attract film makers. You’d be hard pressed to find a better place for this industry, then right here, right now.
 


Daryl Bates is a writer and director of short films. An avid movie watcher, his favorite movie genres are horror and suspense. Daryl loves to use his imagination to create powerful entertaining films.

Interview with Festival Founder J.O. Malone (National Black Film Festival)

 

In a short time the National Black Film Festival has established themselves as one of the premier film festivals in the country. Educational workshops and panels that give the filmmaker and/actor insight into their chosen field. You want to miss our networking events starting with our opening night mixer and followed by the NBFF All Black Party and 2019 NBFF Awards Show. Join us and your film can be the next projecting on the big screen!

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

J.O. Malone: In our 1st two years our festival has given filmmakers an crash course into the film industry and a platform to let their stories be told.

2) What would you expect to experience if you attend your upcoming festival?

Giving you this basics. Knowledge into the film world. Screenwriting, directing, acting and amazing info from our diverse panels.

3) What are the qualifications for the selected films?

Lead actor/actress, director, writer, producer must be African American decent. Quality cinematography, sound, acting, writing and directing.

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

It’s important that filmmakers submit to festivals were the organizers and board members understand your culture. We you come from.

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

Giving a platform for African Americans to tell their story for their perspective. Also. Building the Houston film community.

6) How has your FilmFreeway submission process been?

We love FilmFreeway.

7) Where do you see the festival by 2023?

Top 10 festival in the country.

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

Do the Right Thing – Spike Lee

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

The flow of the story.

10) How is the film scene in your city?

The city of Houston is growing as a film city. As the 4th largest city in the country we have the talent to make an impact in the film world. Our passion is unmatched.
 

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James Rowlins left his native England for Paris, France, to study French cinema. His passion for visual culture subsequently took him to Los Angeles, where he earned a doctorate at the University of Southern California while learning the ropes of filmmaking. He has published articles on the French New Wave and film noir. After serving as Head of Film Studies at the Singapore University of Technology and Design, he now dedicates himself to the full-time running of Brighton Rocks Film Festival.