I recently sat down with the Festival Director of the Festival:
Matthew Toffolo: What is the MayDay Film Festival succeeding at doing for filmmakers?
Kristine Renee Farley: I consider MayDay Film Festival’s biggest achievement our audience members. Last year we had 500 people in attendance across our 2-day event. Sometimes it can be difficult for independent film to find an audience, but we don’t have that problem at MayDay. We’re also currently in negotiations with international distribution companies. We want to partner with one to get MayDay Film Festival official selections in front of their eyes, and hopefully the rest of the world.
Matthew: What would you expect to experience if you attend the festival this year (2016)?
Kristine: MayDay is alway a fun experience for attendees. We pride ourselves on not being a pretentious film festival. We have vendor booths similar to what you see at conventions. This gives filmmakers a chance to sell their movies as well as other merchandise like tshirts. But we also invite local businesses and artists to rent booth space as well. We want to be interactive with the whole community, and invite anyone who thinks indie film fans would like to buy their product a chance to get it out there. All the info to get a booth is on our website. We also always have a guest artist or two to do a Q&A panel. We’ve had cosplayer Collin Royster, Emmy-award winning writer of Friday the 13th Victor Miller, Jake Lloyd of Star Wars & Jingle all the Way, and the Star Wars 501st Legion in past years.
Matthew: What are the qualifications for the selected films?
Kristine: Our submission guidelines are pretty loose. We like to have a wide variety of films screen at MayDay. During the selection process, we try to keep a good balance of looking at the quality of everything from camera work, image, audio, acting, and story. A filmmaker may not have had the best camera when they made their film, but if the story is amazing, we’ll still take it. Likewise, if a film looks too beautiful to pass up, we sure won’t.
Matthew: Do you think that some films really don’t get a fair shake from film festivals? And if so, why?
Kristine: I agree to a certain extent, yes. I think the bigger film festivals only take “independent” films that are only so just because a studio wasn’t involved. Yes, TECHNICALLY they’re “independent,” but they have huge stars and the best equipment. It makes sense for a festival to accept such movies because it will help their festival be more successful, so I can’t really discredit them for that at all. But I do believe that a lot of really amazing films that didn’t have the budget and didn’t have the stars do get ignored sometimes. Just because they don’t have that selling power. Which kind of leads into your next question…
Matthew: What motivates you and your team to do this festival?
Kristine: We want to give people a chance to get their films seen. That’s the whole point of making a movie! For people to see it! In addition to our fantastic & growing attendance numbers, filmmakers have the opportunity to secure booth space to sell their DVDs to the right audience – people interested in watching indie film.
For me personally, I’m also an actress working in TV & indie film. It’s a wonderful opportunity to see who’s making amazing films & to check out other actors & actresses who are getting work. We have films that come to us from all over the country & the world. It’s a wonderful networking opportunity for anyone in the indie film scene.
Matthew: How has the festival changed since its inception?
Kristine: This festival has changed SO much! It first started as a few students at the University of Southern Indiana showing off short films that they had made that school year. Then the Filmmakers’ Club was created to give students a more organized foundation to create their films since the school doesn’t have a film program. Each year it’s gotten bigger & bigger, incorporating local filmmakers and businesses. Now we’re in an actual movie theatre (Shout out to Showplace Cinemas in Evansville, IN! They’re the best!), showing films on 3 screens, and have international selections each year. I started helping with the fest in year 3. We had 38 submissions total. This year we had 40 our first day. We’re up to 470 currently, and we don’t close submissions until May 1st! We’ve had to bring on more people to get through the first round of watching films.
Matthew: Where do you see the festival by 2020?
Kristine: I certainly hope we continue to grow as much as we have already. At this time, we’re a not for profit event in the sense that we make absolutely no profit, haha. All fees & admissions go straight back into the festival costs. A lot of the time myself and the other coordinators will spend money out of pocket to make sure everything goes off without a hitch. I’d certainly like to see it begin to turn a profit because we have some amazing ideas to expand the MayDay brand into other film related events. If I had my way, we’d have a different themed event each month!
Matthew: What film have you seen the most times in your life?
Kristine: The absolute most times is probably Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. I may have been a teenager when it came out, but I geeked hard core over it. My sister and I were probably watching it 3 times a day that summer we were off from school. I started developing a bit of a British accent. It was pretty crazy, haha. As an adult, it’s probably either Kill Bill or Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. Those films just never get old for me. I notice something new each time I watch them. If you’re talking indie film, you should totally check out Bounty Killer. God, I love that movie.
Matthew: In one sentence, what makes a great film?
Kristine: Oy. ONE sentence? And “great” is so subjective… I’d have to say, “A great film understands it’s audience.” Understanding your audience and how your film is perceived really helps tell a great story. That sentence also allows for films that may not be technically sound, but are still entertaining. AND it transcends genres. Someone who loves horror may not like romantic comedy, but that doesn’t mean either genre isn’t great.
Matthew: How is the film scene in your city?
Kristine: Well, I’m living in New York City now, so pretty awesome, haha. Back in Evansville, things are pretty hopping, too. The work I got there and the experience I gained have been invaluable to me in pursuing my career. Last year at MayDay Film Fest in particular, the quality of local films skyrocketed. Evansville, IN is definitely holding their own against some of the best films from around the country. Some even won awards against them too! I continue to be impressed year after year at how much my friends & associates in indie film have grown.
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 http://www.wildsound.ca for more information and to submit your work to the festival.