Interview with Festival Director Christopher Rohde (Mirror Mountain Film Festival)

Mirror Mountain Film Festival brings the best in independent and alternative cinema to Canada’s capital. Mirror Mountain is an inclusive festival that welcomes all types of films and all types of people to share in the collective cinema experience. In addition to film screenings, our festival features live performances, parties, panel discussions, Q&A sessions and more.

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

Christopher Rohde: I started Mirror Mountain with a philosophy of doing it from a filmmaker’s perspective, including things I think most filmmakers would like to see when they submit to festivals. We keep filmmakers informed of the status of their submission. We refund your submission fee if your work is selected. We play your film in the correct aspect ratio and in high resolution on a big screen with quality projection. We promote the films and filmmakers as much as we can on social media. Even if your film isn’t selected, you still get a complimentary festival pass as a thank you for your hard work as an artist.

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

Some of the most original films from unique creative minds around the world, plus spectacular live performances and great parties. It’s also an opportunity to meet cool like-minded people and talk with the artists about their work.

What are the qualifications for the selected films?

We look for films to screen at Mirror Mountain that come from a distinct voice. A big part of what makes the festival special is that the audience can experience different points of view, and see something they wouldn’t get at home on Netflix or from a Hollywood movie.

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

As an independent filmmaker who also submits to festivals regularly, I can relate to this dilemma. I think filmmakers want to know that when they send their project in, the people there look at your work carefully and that the festival is run professionally.

What motivates you and your team to do this festival?

Our team is made up of filmmakers, actors, musicians, writers, arts administrators and technicians. But what unites us all is our mutual love for the artistry and creativity of filmmaking, and getting the opportunity to share some amazing films with captivated audiences.

How has your FilmFreeway submission process been?

I still remember sending short films to festivals on VHS tapes through the postal service, so we’re grateful for the convenience to both filmmakers and festivals that online submission platforms give us. They also provide a greater global reach and connect us with filmmakers in many more distant parts of the world.

Where do you see the festival by 2020?

Hopefully still providing an enjoyable experience for our community!

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

Probably the last short film I directed! It spent several years in post-production and I feel like I saw it a thousand times during colour correction and sound mixing.

In one sentence, what makes a great film?

Passion, ingenuity, emotion, originality, fun.

How is the film scene in your city?

The Ottawa filmmaking scene is filled with collaboration and a sense of generosity. It’s a community where people support one another, and we’re always proud to feature many locally-produced films each year.
 

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Christopher Rohde (b. 1983) is an award-winning filmmaker from Ottawa, Ontario. His video The Pink Ghosts (2006) was screened across Canada and was one of the first four films selected for the inaugural edition of EnRoute, Air Canada’s in-flight film festival. Odd One Out (2014) was screened internationally and won awards for Best Film by an Emerging Filmmaker at the Jasper Short Film and Media Arts Festival and Best Director (Experimental) at the 2015 Ottawa Independent Video Awards. He received his M.A. in Film Studies from Carleton University in 2007. He was a member of Available Light Screening Collective from 2006 to 2013 and curated several programmes for the group including Stellar Regions: Jazz & Avant-Garde Film and Raw Power: Rock & Avant-Garde Film. From 2010 to 2014, he was the Programmer at SAW Video Media Art Centre, a dynamic artist-run-centre in the nation’s capital, where he curated dozens of screenings, installations, exhibitions, performances and other projects with many of Canada’s top media artists.

Interviewer Matthew Toffolo is currently the CEO of the WILDsound FEEDBACK Film & Writing Festival. The festival that showcases 20-50 screenplay and story readings performed by professional actors every month. And the FEEDBACK Monthly Festival held in downtown Toronto, and Los Angeles at least 2 times a month. Go to www.wildsound.ca for more information and to submit your work to the festival.

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Interview with Festival Director Mark Lyminster (RAINBOW UMBRELLA FILM FESTIVAL)

 

Following the success of UNRESTRICTED VIEW FILM FESTIVAL and UNRESTRICTED VIEW HORROR FILM FESTIVAL, we are delighted to announce our first LGBT Film Festival, RAINBOW UMBRELLA, which will take place at THE HEN & CHICKENS THEATRE on 12th – 14th January 2018. The programme will be announced in December 2017 and tickets will go on sale at unrestrictedview.co.uk

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

Mark Lyminster: The Rainbow umbrella film festival is I believe succeeding in giving a voice to independent LGBT film makers, a chance for their work to be seen and aired as well as meeting like minded film makers once the festival is up and running.

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


I think you would expect to experience a warm and welcoming environment filled with positive film makers actors crew and audience, the feeling of belonging and a chance to share ideas and experiences of life and of film making.

What are the qualifications for the selected films?

The qualifications for the films are that they are made with a elements of truth, a journey for the characters and stories we can all connect and relate too.


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

Our aim is be open minded and as fair as we can be to give all films a chance to be seen and shared with a wider audience.

There are so many elements that go into making films and I think sometimes films are not given a chance if they are not firing on all cylinders so to speak.


What motivates you and your team to do this festival?

We are motivated by the passion people have to tell stories and to share these experiences, we have a good range of selectors for the festival all of whom bring their own energy and passion to the process.

How has your FilmFreeway submission process been?

The submissions have been very interesting, from the very slick and polished to the more rough and ready,it has been good too see a wide range of topics and from all around the world.


Where do you see the festival by 2020?

 
It would be amazing for the festival to extend to a week, a real celebration of wonderful LGBT film making, a must see event in peoples diaries would be great and playing in a lovely modern cinema complex, maybe even in several cinemas simultaneously.

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

The film I have seen the most times is Clue staring Tim Curry, a fab cast a three different endings to a wonderful colourful and camp who-dun-it


In one sentence, what makes a great film?

  Peoples stories

How is the film scene in your city?

 
We are very very lucky with the film scene here in London,so much going on and catering for everyone.

 

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Interviewer Matthew Toffolo is currently the CEO of the WILDsound FEEDBACK Film & Writing Festival. The festival that showcases 20-50 screenplay and story readings performed by professional actors every month. And the FEEDBACK Monthly Festival held in downtown Toronto, and Los Angeles at least 2 times a month. Go to www.wildsound.ca for more information and to submit your work to the festival.

SUBMIT your TV PILOT Screenplay or TV SPEC Script
Voted #1 TV Contest in North America.
Screenplay CONTESTSUBMIT your Short Screenplay or FEATURE Script
FULL FEEDBACK on all entries. Get your script performed

Interview with Festival Director Alessandro Cassa (FICMAN/INSFF)

What is FICMAN/INSFF in a few words ? 12 months. 12 finalists. 1 great winner! Filmmakers, get noticed! FICMAN / INSFF is an international film festival and LIVE screening for Short film. Be part of this one of a kind festival for shorts lovers, and give your film and your talent a chance to be shown and noticed by the right people from all over the world.  FICMAN / INSFF is produced by Productions du 3 juin, a company from Québec (Canada) recognized internationally. Since 2007,Productions du 3 juin has focused on production (videos, short films and promotional documentaries) for various renowned clients. This creative company is recognized internationally and followed by people from 47 countries on its WEBTV (P3J.TV) and VIMÉO PRODUCTIONS DU 3 JUIN channel. To celebrate its 15 years in 2017, it has founded the FICMAN International Short Film Festival, in which it excels, and WEBTV by P3J.TV which offers an immersion in emotion, its production line.

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What is your Film Festival succeeding at doing for filmmakers? 

All filmmakers work hard to realise and produce their Short… and FICMAN/INSFF wants to give author’s film a chance to be seen and to be discovered all around the world. This is why FICMAN/INSFF is a monthly international competition that offers the opportunity to be selected for a live screening in Québec (Canada) at the end of the year: a great night of short to present and choose the best of the best. But all year round it is also a moment to be discovered by an international jury from the industry, and most of all, to have its trailer (for monthly winners) relayed on P3J.TV, a cultural WebTV followed by people from 47 countries. And because we all need recognitions in this industry, our Festival will give official Laurels, review on a professional cinema blog (LE PETIT SEPTIÈME) and much more to winners. Prizes of more than $ 15,000 in visibility and recognition will be awarded.

We create this one of a kind festival for short films lovers, to give to filmmakers a chance to be shown and noticed by the right people from all over the world. So, each month, for a year, a winner will be chosen in a monthly competition from the submissions received during the past month, what means we will have more than 12 Films Finalists. The trailer of this Finalist Short Winner will be shown on P3J.TV with a bio of the Director, the poster of the Film and a description of the Short. FICMAN/INSFF offers international visibility, recognitions, and a chance to be discovered!

What are the qualifications for the selected films? 

FICMAN/INSFF is really a simple and friendly user Short Film Festival for author’s film. Shorts submitted must have a trailer that will be shown on the international cultural WebTV called P3J.TV. Short must have been made for 5 years or less, and our festival is also open to first films and student films. Of course, the film will not be shown online, but on the yearly live screening. The following categories of fiction films are eligible: author’s film, narrative film, silent film, art film, animated film, experimental film, student film, first work, documentary fiction, video clip, web series. Short films must be under 15 minutes and all Submissions must be subtitled in English (for non-French speaking films). Silent films are also accepted. All the details are on our website (www.ficman-insff.com) and FILMREEWAY.

What motivates you and your team to do this festival? 

The FICMAN/INSFF team simply loved Short film! Our motivation is simple, we want to help promote inspiring, honest short films that focus on the director’s vision and reflect their personality. Whether the films are poetic, intimate, touching, funny or political, we want to put the spotlight on high-quality works that reflect the personality of the director who wrote and created them from a single idea, a vision of the story they wanted to tell, the universe they wanted to share. As a festival and platform for discovery, FICMAN-INSFF, also wants to help highlight short films in the current cinematographic landscape that were written and directed by the same person. Works that present their own universe. And we simply want to celebrate the many independent shorts from all over.

In one sentence, what makes a great film? 

We believe that all great film begins with a great idea, a flash of genius, and the desire to bring a personal universe to life.

How has your FilmFreeway submission process been? 

From the beginning of the process, and from the beginning of the adventure, the FilmFreeway Team has been there to help us with all the steps for creating our Festival page’s. And we must say that the submission processes each month, of our monthly competition, is easy and friendly user. For us, to manage, and for the Jury. All this offers an great opening and a great opportunity to connect with Filmmakers from all the world, and must of all, with FilmFreeway, we are able to do it the right way.

Where do you see the festival by 2020? 

Our vision is to be, in 2020, one the recognized international Festival, dedicated to narratives Shorts. And we wish that through the years, we will give a chance to Filmmakers to get noticed… to encourage them to continue and to create more shorts. As a Director myself, I know that first of all, we have to believe in us, and to believe in the potential of our film. Our festival is there, simply for that: to help creators to believed in their ideas, by getting visibility and recognitions with FICMAN. And we wish for FICMAN, to be recognized that way in 2020. We have three years do to so!

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

I must confess to be honest, that one of the first movie I saw, and the one I am always trilled to see again and again, is Signing in the rain with Gene Kelly. For a lot of reasons (quality of actors, music, script, dance numbers of course…) but for one reason in particular. It was the first time I saw, behind the scene. And that day I knew for sure, what I was going to do in my life: filmmaking !

SHORT BIO OF THE DIRECTOR

Vice-President of Productions du 3 juin and Festival Director, Alessandro Cassa is a versatile creator whose works have been selected at various festivals in recent years, recognizing his creativity and sensitive approach. He is an author, chronicler and director and passionate about image and creation.  In 2006 and 2007 he represented Quebec at the Cannes Festival Short Film Corner, with two short films. He was decorated in 2013 with the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal for all his achievements in culture, literature and film. His most recent short film that was inspired by his youth series has been screened in 10 countries around the world where he has won several awards: ACARUS DUMDELL OU LA THÉORIE DE LA FICTION is in official selections at 21 international festivals: India, Great Britain, United States, France, Belgium, Italy, Romania and Spain. He hopes that the FICMAN/INSFF will offer the opportunity to highlight and showcase various auteur cinema productions throughout the world.

BANDE ANNONCE ANGLAIS : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nh3epbkPo08

SITE FILMFREEWAY : https://filmfreeway.com/festival/FICMAN-INSFF

SITE FICMAN : www.ficman-insff.com

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Interviewer Matthew Toffolo is currently the CEO of the WILDsound FEEDBACK Film & Writing Festival. The festival that showcases 20-50 screenplay and story readings performed by professional actors every month. And the FEEDBACK Monthly Festival held in downtown Toronto, and Los Angeles at least 2 times a month. Go to www.wildsound.ca for more information and to submit your work to the festival.

SUBMIT your TV PILOT Screenplay or TV SPEC Script
Voted #1 TV Contest in North America.
Screenplay CONTESTSUBMIT your Short Screenplay or FEATURE Script
FULL FEEDBACK on all entries. Get your script performed

Interview with Festival Director Matthew Rooney (VideoDrunk Film Festival)

Ranking as one of Toronto’s Top Alternative Film Festivals, Videodrunk is a small indie/experimental/underground/genre film festival that will be taking place in Toronto this November and December at Farside. The festival is run by filmmakers and video artists and aims to present an eclectic collection of films in an almost mixtape sort of way to audiences in a non-formal easy going non-cinema environment. We’re basically a party film festival. Amateurs, students, DIYers and pros all are treated as equals.

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

Matthew Rooney: We’re providing a fun event for filmmakers to show their films in a different atmosphere than other festivals around Toronto. We’ve given filmmakers that might not get a chance because of their genre or style get a chance to show where they might not have.

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

A little more party-like than last year I’d say thanks to the venue we’re using being less gallery/theatre like. We’re also trying to build a line up that’s a little more off the wall than past years but also more accessible at the same time. We like having active and energetic crowds but film loving crowds that are respectful of what’s going on.

What are the qualifications for the selected films?

Be enjoyable or interesting. Pretty simple.

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

I do even with smaller festivals. I feel a lot of them have rules that are too strict and sometimes genre festivals have a narrow scope of what fits their festivals.

What motivates you and your team to do this festival?

Love of film, the fun of the final festival and the satisfaction of a job well done.

How has your FilmFreeway submission process been?

Simply amazing.

Where do you see the festival by 2020?

This one is a little tricky because there are so many factors at play with it. For example, I might be moving out of the country in the next 2 years and maybe Videodrunk retires or goes on hiatus or moves with me and brings its style to Luxemburgish or goes digital or my friend Emil takes it over and turns it into his Uncanny Beauty Film Festival. I don’t know, we’ll see.

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

Not sure, maybe “Duck Soup”

In one sentence, what makes a great film?

Can’t answer that because any answer I give will be wrong.

How is the film scene in your city?

We have 100 some odd festivals and dozens of productions (both big and small and domestic and international) going on at any given time plus some amazing video stores. It’s very strong. Strong enough that TIFF makes traveling around downtown nearly impossible.

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Interviewer Matthew Toffolo is currently the CEO of the WILDsound FEEDBACK Film & Writing Festival. The festival that showcases 20-50 screenplay and story readings performed by professional actors every month. And the FEEDBACK Monthly Festival held in downtown Toronto, and Los Angeles at least 2 times a month. Go to www.wildsound.ca for more information and to submit your work to the festival.

SUBMIT your TV PILOT Screenplay or TV SPEC Script
Voted #1 TV Contest in North America.
Screenplay CONTESTSUBMIT your Short Screenplay or FEATURE Script
FULL FEEDBACK on all entries. Get your script performed

Interview with Festival Director Terrence Sanders (Platform Film Festival)

Platform Film Festival’s mission is to celebrate the masters of filmmaking and discover the next generation of innovative creatives. Platform is the connective tissue that bonds the wondrous union between art and film. PFF will present an uncensored view of the World through the most important and relevant artists and filmmakers creating 2D and 3D work without fear, monetary incentives or artificial borders. PFF is a creative forum where like minds can have a sense of community being celebrated by the publlc-at-large and their contemporaries.

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

Terrence Sanders: Platform Film Festival mission is to provide a necessary platform for filmmakers in hopes of creating a greater awareness for important films.

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

TS: Eclectic programming with an artistic bend. Films that entertain and educate. New discoveries that will resonate with the viewer long after they leave the venue.

What are the qualifications for the selected films?

TS: Voice, substance and vision.

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

TS: It’s a power struggle whenever money is part of the equation. Each film submitted is competing for exposure and notoriety. Each jury favors a different trend, celebrity, subject matter or theme on a yearly basis. What’s favorable this year might not be favorable the next. Sometimes the unknown underdog is the winner and most times whether we like it or not it’s the financed studio favorite.

What motivates you and your team to do this festival?

TS: The love of the medium. I owe everything that I am today to the transformative power of cinema. I want to share great films with my audience.

How has your FilmFreeway submission process been?

TS: It’s been great. We were going to partner with Withoutabox but the process was complicated to say the least. Filmfreeway was simple and personable. It was a great fit. I hope to grow with this company and community.

Where do you see the festival by 2020?

TS: Joining the list of respected, important and relevant film festivals in the World.

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

TS: I’m a film freak. I have literally watched 5 movies a day for that last 25 years. I’ve seen everything. A few favorites are; The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, The Libertine, A Pure Formality, The Royal Tenenbaums, Blue Caprice, Ballast, O Brother Where Art Thou?, In the Mood For Love, Maderlay, I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead, Gangster No. 1, etc.

In one sentence, what makes a great film?

TS: Three words: writing, cinematography and performance.

How is the film scene in your city?

TS: I live in Los Angeles – what do you think?

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Interviewer Matthew Toffolo is currently the CEO of the WILDsound FEEDBACK Film & Writing Festival. The festival that showcases 20-50 screenplay and story readings performed by professional actors every month. And the FEEDBACK Monthly Festival held in downtown Toronto, and Los Angeles at least 2 times a month. Go to www.wildsound.ca for more information and to submit your work to the festival.

SUBMIT your TV PILOT Screenplay or TV SPEC Script
Voted #1 TV Contest in North America.
Screenplay CONTESTSUBMIT your Short Screenplay or FEATURE Script
FULL FEEDBACK on all entries. Get your script performed

Interview with Festival Director Orvil Kunga (Afrikans On Film Festival)

A unique opportunity to see films rarely seen on the big screen. A well attended festival noted for shining a light on the multilayered aspect of Afrikan filmmaking. It boasts informed discussions, workshops, a unique Afrikan craft market and great cultural food (vegan options available). With performance, poetry and story-telling thrown in for good measure. A true Afrikan experience that will tingle the senses, inform, insight and educate.

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

Orvil Kunga: Afrikans on Film festival has been successful in premiering work for filmmakers who are often overlooked in the wider discourse of mainstream cinema.

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

Our festival exists solely to promote the multilayered aspect of African centred, creativity. Those who attend our festival should expect films from the African continent, along with African centred films from US, UK and Europe. Many of them are UK premiers. All have been selected because they speak to the essence of the on-going journey of the African body.

What are the qualifications for the selected films?

We look at films across the board. Animation, documentaries, drama and even music videos.

There is no criteria as such. As the curator, I am interested in films which skilfully portray where African filmmaking is now but also where these contemporary stories sit within Africa’s uniquely spiritual nature of story-telling. Whilst a few of the films screened might be made by non-Black, African people (either from the continent or the diaspora), it is ultimately, the African-centred nature that forms the main criteria for selection.

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

Certainly. African people within the creative industries are often marginalised in the West and the African narrative has almost been erased from mainstream TV and cinema globally. The representation of the African body has historically been mediated through a white (all too often male) gaze. This is problematic and has severely hindered the African’s ability to tell our human stories to the world.

What motivates you and your team to do this festival?

Our lived experience guides our passion for creating a platform for pushing the multi-prismic nature of these stores. It is great when we see this work on the big screen. It’s great when we see a room full of young and older people, their eyes wide open looking at the screen, in total awe at the quality, richness and range of these stories.

How has your FilmFreeway submission process been?

Its been amazing! Although we’ve been running for 6 years, we’ve not tried FilmFreeway before and have been blown away by the amount of submissions received in such a short space of time since registering on the site. If there is a gripe, then it would be that some people avoided (deliberate or otherwise), the fact that we seek African films. Films either made by Africans or films which focus on African people.

Where do you see the festival by 2020?

Our Afrikans on film festival has been serving films to the public for over 5 years, free of charge. Which is amazing! It has been partially funded by a small organisation in London, called Peckham and Nunhead Free Film Festivals, who receive funding from the local borough of Southwark and thankfully collaborate with us in order to get these beautiful films on screen. Whilst the ‘free’ film festival may well continue under this relationship, Afrikans on Film as a subsidiary film provider, seeks wider sponsorship as we aim to push the festival to twice a year and provide pop-up screenings throughout the year. We hope to provide an out-reach programme, working with creatives here in the UK and linking them with creatives around the African world. If all goes to plan, by 2020 we should be bigger and better!

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

Aah difficult one! Black Girl (Ousmane Sembene), Sankofa (Haile Gerima). BAFTA nominated, Short film – Mwansa The Great (Rungana Nyoni), watched and shared many times! Battledream Chronicles (Alain Bidard). An animated feature from Guadeloupe. The first feature from Guadeloupe is a gem on many levels and I’ve watched it too many times! Summer Of Gods (Eliciana Nascimento), Oya Rise of The Orishas (Nosa Igbinedion). Award-winning web-series Ackee and Saltfish (Cecile Emeke).

I know you said ‘film’ but an unfair question deserves an unfair answer!lol

In one sentence, what makes a great film?

A great film speaks to an inert truth, appeals to the viewer through codes and tropes which unites the soul and lingers on, connecting others as its memories ripple.

How is the film scene in your city?

In London the independent scene is vibrant.

Online platforms have changed the game as cities/filmmakers become more and more interconnected.

Although all the big and medium films come through this city, the home of BFI’s LFF (London Film Festival), Afrikans on Film festival, attempts to serve a need and we feel, remains among the best places to see unique work from up-coming filmmakers who are equally passionate about sharing the Afrikan story.

‘K’ in Afrikan represents a disruption from the contemporary spelling, echoing the politicised presence of the festival and the consciousness of Afrikan-centred creative.

 

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Interviewer Matthew Toffolo is currently the CEO of the WILDsound FEEDBACK Film & Writing Festival. The festival that showcases 20-50 screenplay and story readings performed by professional actors every month. And the FEEDBACK Monthly Festival held in downtown Toronto, and Los Angeles at least 2 times a month. Go to www.wildsound.ca for more information and to submit your work to the festival.

SUBMIT your TV PILOT Screenplay or TV SPEC Script
Voted #1 TV Contest in North America.
Screenplay CONTESTSUBMIT your Short Screenplay or FEATURE Script
FULL FEEDBACK on all entries. Get your script performed

Interview with Festival Directors Roger and Shelley Gillespie (COPA SHORTS FILM FESTIVAL)

COPA SHORTS FILM FEST, INC. launched its first film festival in February 2017.  It is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit that focuses on creating a great learning and entertainment experience for filmmakers, screenwriters and film lovers locally, regionally, nationally, and worldwide. The festival takes places at UltraStar Multi-tainment Center at Ak-Chin Circle in Maricopa, Arizona about 35 miles from downtown Phoenix.

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

Roger and Shelley Gillespie: Copa Shorts Film Fest, now starting its second year of programming, has succeeded in highlighting talented filmmakers of short films and screenplays. In a state-of-the-art digital venue, we showed 56 short films in our first festival this February. The films were from around the world and the U.S.

In addition to showcasing films, we provided four screenwriters the opportunity to have table reads of their short screenplays. Each of the four finalists, from four different states, could see their name on the screen and their words voiced by actors.

We also are succeeding at offering workshops to provide hands-on learning experiences for new and upcoming filmmakers for free.

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

Our 2017 festival was held in February of this year. For 2018, attendees can expect more experiences to learn and enjoy film and screenplays. We’re doubling the festival workshops so attendees can have an opportunity to learn from professionals about above and below the line skills. Attendees can also relax in our fabulous location, UltraStar Multi-tainment Center, to see the films and experience the screenplay table reads.

We’re in our submission period through October 13, so we don’t know all of the films and screenplays that could be featured in February.

However, we have added a category for military veteran films and we’re seeing some excellent early entries. We’ve also added a separate category for high school filmmakers, as well as college filmmakers.

At our VIP and Wrap Award parties, we’ll be showcasing award-winning Native American musical performers, Native Spirit and Arvel Bird. The parties will be a chance for film attendees, filmmakers, and screenwriters to network.

What are the qualifications for the selected films?

CSFF accepts films that are from two to twenty minutes (including credits) in the following categories: Native American, high school student, college student, military veteran and in genres of animation, comedy, documentary, drama, horror, and sci-fi.

The selected films are reviewed by Arizona State University film students and film professionals. We examine story, technical, acting, and overall impact of the film.
For screenplays, we expect screenplays to be no longer than 15 pages and also examine dialogue as one of the major criteria.v

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

Potentially, some film reviewers may not have expertise in reviewing films. This could lead to personal bias.

What motivates you and your team to do this festival?

Our team offers this festival because we love films and we want to provide opportunities for talent to be encouraged and showcased. We offer educational workshops to help filmmakers improve their skills. And, in our growing city, we like the idea of providing a major cultural artistic event to attract people.

How has your FilmFreeway submission process been?

We have had an extremely positive experience working exclusively with FilmFreeway. Their staff has been responsive when we had questions (We were a first-time festival this year) and everything worked smoothly.

Where do you see the festival by 2020?

By 2020, we expect that the festival will be at least a day longer to provide more workshops, more submissions, more attendees, and really strong repeat business.

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

I’m a romantic. I’ve probably seen Pretty Woman tied with Dirty Dancing the most times in my life.

Roger has seen High Plains Drifter the most.

In one sentence, what makes a great film?

A great film is one that makes you think, has a memorable premise, characters, and technical aspects that all work together to create something you want to see repeatedly and talk about with others.

How is the film scene in your city?

Maricopa is a new city that has grown exponentially in the last 14 years. Our festival location, UltraStar Multi-tainment Center, was built almost five years ago. Films shown tend to favor blockbusters. We typically have to travel out of town to see art films, indie films and shorts programs.

In our community, there is an avid following for films from school students through senior citizens. Maricopa is home to several current and former filmmakers, screenwriters, Hollywood film professionals and actors. Several worthy locally-made films were shown in our festival.
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BIOS:

Roger and Shelley Gillespie are co-founders of Copa Shorts Film Fest, which began as a desire to create an event focused around film for our community of Maricopa, Arizona.

Roger Gillespie is a screenwriter, producer, film critic and host of the monthly “3-Hour Movie Critic” event at UltraStar, who has been involved in film, broadcasting and journalism since high school.

He has independently written and co-written over 10 screenplays including quarter-finalist for his full-length feature, Saving Liberty, in Francis Ford Coppola’s annual, internationally-renowned American Zoetrope Screenwriting Contest.

An alumni member of Ball State University’s Film and Broadcasting School, and Hal Croasmun’s Screenwriting U, Roger is the first to tell anyone that he can teach you how to format a screenplay in a few minutes, but “it’s the story that matters, and that takes a little more time.”

Shelley Gillespie multi-faceted background includes years as an award-winning journalist (The Communicator, Arizona Republic, Times Publications), an educator and adjunct professor (CAC, NAU), writing coach, marketing consultant and author. (Hiking for the Couch Potato: A Guide for the Exercise-Challenged.) Shelley also shares writing credit for Saving Liberty with Roger.

She has raised millions for not-for-profits, managed training programs and events, and created marketing programs for a shopping mall and corporations.

Shelley holds a BA in English from Vassar College and an MS in Educational Administration from State University of NY at Albany.

Interviewer Matthew Toffolo is currently the CEO of the WILDsound FEEDBACK Film & Writing Festival. The festival that showcases 20-50 screenplay and story readings performed by professional actors every month. And the FEEDBACK Monthly Festival held in downtown Toronto, and Los Angeles at least 2 times a month. Go to www.wildsound.ca for more information and to submit your work to the festival.

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