Interview with Festival Director Ronald Quigley (PITTSBURGH INDEPENDENT FILM FESTIVAL)

The Pittsburgh Independent Film Festival is Pittsburgh’s own film festival for truly independent films, and a headline event for micro-budget films in the USA and world wide. PIIF offers a fantastic opportunity for undiscovered filmmakers to showcase their achievements, filmmakers who posses an independent vision and operate to create innovative work outside the studio system. Two recent winners of the festival have secured a distribution deal, as a result of entering our festival. Both our 2016 and 2018 winners are now in worldwide distribution. The Pittsburgh Independent Film Festival was founded by Ronald Quigley a Pittsburgh native who now lives and works as an  Actor / Director in Los Angeles.  Ronald, re-located from Pittsburgh to Los Angeles in April 2002.  He is the CEO of Last Act Entertainment a production company with several credits to it’s name.  Ronald acts as the Festival Director while our panel of judges are comprised of industry professionals from different fields within the film making community of Hollywood. The PIFF was created in 2010 and screened 48 films from around the world at the Hollywood Theater in Dormont PA,  a suburb of Pittsburgh.  Although the Hollywood worked well for the first year, Ronald felt a need for a venue that was more conducive to a film festival atmosphere. In 2013 the Pittsburgh Independent Film Festival moved to The Father Ryan Arts Center in McKees Rocks. For the 2019 season the PIFF is being held at the newly remodeled Parkway Theater. Aaron Stubna has taken an old theater and turned it into a hip modern cafe screening room with a Restaurant and Bar integrated all together to make this one of the coolest places to have a Film festival I have ever seen. We hope to be here for many years to come.    Link   http://communityreelartscenter.org/

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

Ronald Quigley: The competition in the independent film world has become fierce, the quality of films has grown exponentially almost every year over the 9 years of our existence. We give an opportunity to filmmakers to screen their film on the big screen and perhaps secure distribution.

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

This year we have found a newly remodeled hip little theater in Pittsburgh The Parkway Theater. Aaron Stubna the owner, has taken an old theater and turned it into a hip modern cafe screening room with a Restaurant and Bar integrated all together to make this one of the coolest places to have a Film festival I have ever seen. We hope to be here for many years to come. In addition to our already one of a kind official submission plaque that is presented to every selected submission. We are the only festival in the world that does this.

3) What are the qualifications for the selected films?

The only qualification is that they be good. They must be shot on a very high level sound, picture and color all have to be great. I have said that you will be judged by your lowest common denominator not only by my festival but that holds true for your audience you wont be remembered as getting it pretty good your will be remembered as the film with bad sound or color whatever the worst part of your film is is what they remember.

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

I don’t know about any other festival but at our festival every film is reviewed very carefully.

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

The love of film. We are all filmmakers in one way or another. Our team is comprised of directors, producers, sound people, and just plain old filmmakers. We don’t make money from this the festival barely breaks even every year. We are a smaller festival because of where we are located,.but don’t get me wrong Pittsburgh is a great place to have a festival.

6) How has your FilmFreeway submission process been?

Filmfreeway is now our main portal for submissions we get most of our submissions through them. They have come on like gangbusters and have done everything for the better.I love Filmfreeway.

7) Where do you see the festival by 2023?

That’s a good question. We have grown every year and now that we have a hip new venue I think we could have like a little Sundance where everyone can’t wait to come. Anyhow that’s my dream.

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

The Wizzard of OZ still to me the greatest film ever made. No one disagrees with me when I say that, but they may have a different favorite. I vever miss it when it comes on TV.

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

A great film takes you on an emotional roller coaster ride you don’t think about anything else you are invested and engaged and you forget about the real world.

10) How is the film scene in your city?

Well that’s kind of a loaded question I live in Hollywood but my festival is in Pittsburgh. But the Pittsburgh film scene has been pretty vibrant Pittsburgh gets about 8 to 10 Major motion pictures a year made there.

These are multi -million dollar productions. Pittsburgh is a very cinematic city and many top rate filmmakers have no problem coming there to shoot 

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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 single month. And the FEEDBACK Monthly Festival held in downtown Toronto, and Los Angeles at least 3 times a month. Go to http://www.wildsoundfestival.com for more information and to submit your work to the festival.

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Interview with Festival Director Alecs Nastoiu (SHORT TO THE POINT (STTP) )

SHORT TO THE POINT (STTP) is an international network of distribution, broadcast and promotion of short films. Since 2009, SHORT TO THE POINT has gone through several steps and right now it has gathered some awesome projects under its umbrella.

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

Alecs Nastoiu: The most important thing I guess is that we screen films every month. The classic annual festivals usually screen few shorts, one time per year. And the next important thing is that we screen short films in unconventional spaces like pubs, bars, museums, theatres or terraces. We try to bring short films to the audience, not the audience to cinemas. And another good thing is that we screen short films simultaneous in over 30 cities from Romania and Moldova. And very soon we will start doing this all over the world.

2) What would you expect to experience if you attend the festival this year (2018)?

We are a monthly festival, with monthly awards and screenings. But we have an annual event as well. Each year we change the host city. This year we will organize the annual edition of the festival in Bacau, Romania at the end of July. We are screening all winner films of the monthly awards editions from past year. So we offer the opportunity to the filmmakers to discover new cities each year and to meet with filmmakers from all over the world. Every time we have new audience, and new locations. So I think the experience of Short to the Point Film Festival is continuous and you will never get enough of it.

3) What are the qualifications for the selected films?

We accept any kind of short films in our festival. We have a lot of categories. And each category has it’s own selections and winners. So the qualifications are different from category to category. But our jury is looking for good stories and good filmmaking all the way.

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

There are a lot of film festivals in the world so I think each film has its opportunity to make it to the big screen. It’s all about filmmakers. They have to know where to submit their films.

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

First of all we are filmmakers. So we like films. And Short to the Point offer us the opportunity to meet people from industry, to find good ideas that maybe will inspire us in the future and of course to understand what is the trend in cinematography at the moment.

6) How has your FilmFreeway submission process been?

In my opinion FilmFreeway is the best thing in film festival industry that has happened in last 3 years. It’s the best film submission platform on the market. It’s easy to use and it has a lot of options that makes our job as a festival much more easier.

7) Where do you see the festival by 2023?

In 2023 Short to the Point will have screenings in unconventional spaces all over the world.

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

Because I edit my first feature length movie (Billion Star Hotel) for over 6 months, I can say that I saw it the most times. But If we speak about other directors, I can say that I saw over 30 times ‘The man who wasn’t there’, directed by Coen brothers.

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

A great film is a product that combines perfectly all ingredients: script, directing, cinematography, editing, acting etc

10) How is the film scene in your city?

I was born in Bucharest but for 6 years I live in a small city from Transylvania called Targu Mures. Here I started with some friends the first film production company in the history of the city. And I made 2 feature films. First of them Billion Star Hotel has 19 awards at festivals around the world and the second one is in post production. Short to the point is screening short films here every month, so I can say that the film scene is animated for the moment by my team.

 

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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 single month. And the FEEDBACK Monthly Festival held in downtown Toronto, and Los Angeles at least 3 times a month. Go to http://www.wildsoundfestival.com for more information and to submit your work to the festival.

Interview with Festival Director Daniel Wesseik (Pannen op Het Dak)

Pannen op het Dak is Breda’s first and real roof-top festival and it will take place between 22nd of June – 1st of July. Come enjoy the various culinary options, cultural programs and of course a summary view of the entire Breda city. The festival is free and is for both the young and the older.

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

    Daniel Wesseik: Pannen op het Dak is a festival for culture and culinary and attract various audiences. Thus, the filmmakers’ work is shared with audience that don’t often get exposed to independent animation filmmaking. I think that this is special.

    2) What would you expect to experience if you attend the festival this year (2018)?

    Pannen op het Dak is a rooftop festival, and visitors can expect an ideal experience of good food, beer and animation. Can it get better that that?
    The audience will be able to enjoy our two screening programs –
    1. Afternoon program with films created by young talents from Belgium and NL, that gives a beautiful overview of the films that were created here lately.
    2. An evening main program with films that are made by professionals and that are currently on their festival route, swiping awards.

    3) What are the qualifications for the selected films?

    For the young talent – Must be Belgian or Dutch.

    For the professional films – Outstanding artistic voice.

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

    Asian and arabic films. They are so different from European standards, but there is obviously a simmering creative community in many of these countries.

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

    Love for animation and a will to expose more audience to the medium.

    6) How has your FilmFreeway submission process been?

    Easy and convenient.

    7) Where do you see the festival by 2023?

    By 2023 I hope to have 6 years of successful programs, at some point with a competition as well.

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

    Animated feature film – Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind
    Animated short film – Choir Tour

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

    Three P’s: Practice, Planning and passion.

    10) How is the film scene in your city?

    The city hosts the great Playgrounds Festival that focuses on various disciplines, but Pannen op het Dak is the only festival that aims to focus on animation exclusively.
     

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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 single month. And the FEEDBACK Monthly Festival held in downtown Toronto, and Los Angeles at least 3 times a month. Go to http://www.wildsoundfestival.com for more information and to submit your work to the festival.

Interview with Festival Director Eric Morgret (Crypticon Seattle Horror Film Festival))

In 2017 Crypticon Seattle was picked as the Best Convention in Seattle by the readers of The Seattle Weekly. Crypticon Seattle, the convention is in its 11th year and Crypticon Seattle Film Festival is in its 7th year. Crypticon Seattle is the convention celebrating the Pacific Northwest’s Darker Side. Three days of your favorite actors, authors, and artists, along with tons of new people and things you never knew existed. But we are so much more than a tidal wave of blood, guts, and scares.

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

Eric Morgret: We provide a fun event with an amazing convention around it. It is a little different than most festivals. We are in a hotel and don’t have a full theater set-up. We do however love the films and are always adding things every year to make the event better for filmmakers. Adding, meet and greets and special events. We have a couple of big things being added this year that have not been announced yet.

Crypticon has stars in attendance some filmmaker have deals made at the convention. With shorts and features we show a year later, it’s been fun to watch.

2) What would you expect to experience if you attend the festival this year (2018)?

We are adding a few new elements that will enhance the experience substantially. Most are filmmakers only so I can’t announce them here. We are working hard to make the film room feel more like a theater and have some changes that should help that.

You will have your film shown with a post-screening Q&A; we have convention parties going over the weekend, with a huge vendors room, panels to attend, classes, contests, and huge events. We will have filmmaking training classes and more.

3) What are the qualifications for the selected films?

We are looking for the story and something a little different. We like quality filmmaking chops, but we do love to show low-budget shorts and some have low-value production values.

First and foremost is the story and something interesting to show.

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

Sure that does happen. I am sure we have been guilty of this as well, but we try very hard not to be. We view all submissions; this does not always happen at every festival. In the end, festivals are run by people, we do mistakes, and we have huge differences of opinion. What one festival thinks is the most brilliant thing they have other seen another festival with thinking it’s terrible and would never show it. This can feel like your not being treated fairly; I don’t think it’s done intentionally. Since I also am a filmmaker and work hard to get my films shown, I know how this can feel. In the end, it is still people running the event, and they aren’t ever perfect.

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

We love horror movies! We love to represent the films and shorts you may not see otherwise. The world is stuffed with ways to watch movies, festivals like Crypticon Seattle and BoneBat Film Festival are here to help you dig through the noise.

6) How has your FilmFreeway submission process been?

It’s a great service! I think we were the 4th festival to sign up for them a few years back and since day one they have been responsive and helpful with any questions we have had. They also work hard to improve the service and are always adding useful services and tools.

7) Where do you see the festival by 2023?

More fun, more expansive, crazier, and all around full of awesome filmmakers and film fans!

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

One? Hmmm, how about a few. Horror is my favorite genre but I love all films. The movie that changed the way I watch movies was Amadeus. No idea how many times I’ve seen that movie. A few heavy hitters in horror that I’ve watched a ton: Carpenter’s The Thing, Hellraiser, Re-animiter, Hammer’s Dracula. Recent films: Blade Runner 2049, It Follows, The Autopsy of Jane Doe, and so many more…

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

Tell a good story, and tell it in your original creative voice.

10) How is the film scene in your city?

Growing! I started my first festival almost ten years ago, and the local submissions were few and far between. In 2017 we had enough quality NW shorts to have a Northwest Filmmakers showcase. It lasted an hour. This year we have 2 hours of shorts and two features for our NW Filmmakers Showcase. It’s exciting to see what is going on around here from Seattle to Portland to Boise our NW filmmakers are stepping up and making great movies!

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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 single month. And the FEEDBACK Monthly Festival held in downtown Toronto, and Los Angeles at least 3 times a month. Go to http://www.wildsoundfestival.com for more information and to submit your work to the festival.

Interview with Festival Director Terra Renee (African American Women In Cinema)

Each year African American Women In Cinema host one of the most celebrated female film events in the country that shines its luminous spotlight onto ambitious women filmmakers from all over the country and the world!

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

Terra Renee: Bringing awareness of women filmmakers of color

2) What would you expect to experience if you attend the festival this year (2018)?

An interesting variety of film entertainment programs as well as special keynote panels on social issues such as the metoo movement and the importance of voting.

3) What are the qualifications for the selected films?

The film have to be written or directed or produced by a woman of color.

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

Interesting question, I have not thought about looking at festivals in that light.

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

The lack of opportunities for women of color, although we are starting to see some breakthroughs now.

6) How has your FilmFreeway submission process been?

It’s really simple and to the point, not much of an issue.

7) Where do you see the festival by 2023?

Global

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

A hard question because there were so many. I will give you one, Stone Mansion.

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

A good story with excellent acting talent great production, fabulous directing with superb editing.

10) How is the film scene in your city?

Pretty active!

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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 single month. And the FEEDBACK Monthly Festival held in downtown Toronto, and Los Angeles at least 3 times a month. Go to http://www.wildsoundfestival.com for more information and to submit your work to the festival.

Interview with Festival Director Mike Messier (AVALONIA Film Festival)

Avalonia Festival is named in honor of a continent lost is the mists of time, as if dissipated by magic; thus we are here to celebrate the unique Art of our own world of creation. Avalonia Festival II is now accepting submissions of short films, teasers, trailers, film photography and film posters.

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

Mike Messier: Our website Avalonia Festival sets us apart because we actually give our filmmakers the option to either share their actual film ​(or a teaser or a promotional still image)​ on our site to represent their film. This promotes both the work​ itself​ and the filmmaker​ ​as well as their cast and crew. ​Many or even most other film festivals concentrate so much on the live experience but are negligent to the online community which does not make much sense these days, as it’s very hard to get people to actually attend anything in person, while it’s relatively easy to get them to engage online. For those who can attend our live event on April 20, the admission is free ,while many festivals are very expensive So, Avalonia Festival plays well both as an in-person and an on-line experience. ​

In addition, Avalonia Festival’s Circle of Champions​ i​s a celebration of our Award Winning films with personalized Awards for each film. This is no copy and paste job​ for these Awards​! A lot of work goes into making the website very unique and to actually provide content and a web presence ​Avalonia ​filmmakers can be proud to be a part of!

2) What would you expect to experience if you attend the festival this year (2018)?

We will share our Award Winning Films ​at Avalonia Festival II on April 20, 2018 ​in a really great venue called Rhodywood Studios ​in Providence, RI ​with cozy seating, great picture and sound and complimentary snacks. Even better? Free admission for the audience. Winning filmmakers who are able to attend will have a few moments for a Q and A with the live audience.

3) What are the qualifications for the selected films?

Films must be 11 minutes or under to qualify as a “Short Film”, 3 minutes or under to qualify as a “180” film or 60 seconds or less to qualify as a 1 minute movie. We have many categories available to honor all types of films from doc to horror drama to music video to comedy to all points in between. We even have genres for films starring animals. We have no preference whether a film has already premiered at other festivals or is available online. We do prefer if the filmmakers allow us to share their film on our actual website, a status which is both optional for each film and can be changed down the road if need be​ with notice from the filmmaker​. Teasers, film posters and film photography may also enter in their own specific categories.

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

I can’t speak about the fairness of other festivals across the board because there are literally thousands if not tens of thousands of film festivals out there in the world. However, I will say, having entered many festivals myself and being both successful and, at times, disappointed, with my experiences, here are some lessons:

1) Art is a subjective medium, especially film. Being rejected by one, or even a thousand, film fests does not make any particular film “bad.” So do not be discouraged if your particular film is not a “festival darling”. Keep making movies!
2) Some films, quite simply, are just better geared for festivals, given whatever “trend” or “mood”, is going on at the moment of selection. So, that is not to say to conform your style or content to whatever is trendy, but just to say to “give yourself a break.”
3) Look over the fests you are entering and see how they match up in content with what your film is. For instance, there are fests that play specifically to low budget, edgy material. There are fests specific to Vampire films. There are some fests are fests with categories specific for Women Filmmakers, various ethnic groups, LGBQT etc so keep that in mind when choosing which fests to enter.
4) Also, considerations may be made by some fests for filmmakers within driving range of the actual live event. ​It’s more exciting to think that the actual filmmaker will be there in person, and so festivals may have a natural instinct to honor films geographically closer. ​
5) Shorter films usually have an advantage just by logistics. Feature films that have a possibility to make money are much more likely to get a distribution deal of some significance and shorts play better in fests. These things can change, though.

What I really tried to go from the get-go with Avalonia Festival is to have an online presence that honors both the filmmakers and the worldwide audience. If someone gives my website two hours of their time, they can really feel attuned to what the Avalonia Alumni is capable of. I ask any other film festival to show me a better​ -​ or more engaging – and free online – experience than Avalonia Festival.

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

I wanted to provide a festival that would be the type of festival I would like to be a part of as a filmmaker myself.

I wanted to have a festival that had a website that actually gave the name of the winning films and even shared these films online for the biggest possible audience, beyond the seating capacity of whatever venue was used for a live audience. I’m not sure why so many​, otherwise wonderful, ​film fests have​ such lackluster or vague websites but they do. Anyone who wants to hire me to run their film festival website is encouraged to contact me and I’ll help them.

The other motivation is that Avalonia Festival is intended to bring views to my own project Distance from Avalon​ ​which is my Gothic narrative story about a school teacher and his philosophy about parallel universes. When people look into Avalonia Festival, they are also encouraged to look into Distance from Avalon.

6) How has your FilmFreeway submission process been?

So far, so good. I found FilmFreeway to be very user friendly as a filmmaker myself, and its entry process helped me win about half of my film and TV Awards. Running Avalonia Festival on it is also​ relatively​ easy, time consuming at times, but nothing I can’t handle. ​

7) Where do you see the festival by 2023?

That’s a great question. My ideal scenario were to be a global expansion and by that time, the Distance from Avalon films will have been made and I’ll be a highly respected and cherished individual. So we will see.

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

By now, Disregard the Vampire – A Mike Messier Documentary.

I’ve probably seen the most, because of the three years I put into it. This doc, which you may share with your readers, Matthew, directly lead to the creation of Avalonia Festival. Beyond my own work, Highlander, a fantasy time travel piece from 1986, starring Christopher Lambert, is the film I have seen the most and always enjoyed it.

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

A great film exhibits a personal standpoint or observation of the world that both challenges and engages an audience.

10) How is the film scene in your city?

The film scene is my exact city of Wickford, Rhode Island is more or less myself but about 20 minutes north of me my friend Tommy DeNucci of Cranston, RI is getting ready to shoot Vault, a major motion picture in the gangster genre with big names and an hour south of me our mutual buddy David Gere is producing several big action and horror films out of Cromwell, CT. Between the three of us, there are some nice things happening.

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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 single month. And the FEEDBACK Monthly Festival held in downtown Toronto, and Los Angeles at least 3 times a month. Go to http://www.wildsoundfestival.com for more information and to submit your work to the festival.

Interview with Festival Director Banks Helfrich (LIFE SCREENINGS Festival)

This 80 minute event goes beyond movie night and into a shared experience which includes films, filmmakers, lovers of film and engaging conversation. International filmmakers are Skyped in to partake in an encouraged, relaxed exchange of ideas.

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

Banks Helfrich: Life Screenings exposes filmmakers to inquisitive audiences. Through Skyping, it also fosters direct feedback for the filmmaker.

2) What would you expect to experience if you attend the festival this year (2018)?

Life Screenings is an exploration of life through film. Audiences receive direct contact with the filmmaker’s minds through a thorough talkback.

3) What are the qualifications for the selected films?

Life Screenings criteria encompasses two qualifications: 1. All films must be under 15 minutes; 2. All films must show a world that we want to live in.

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

I can only speak for Life Screenings and we specifically search out films which meet our criteria.

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

Life Screenings sole purpose is to share a world that we want to live in through film; to connect filmmakers and film lovers in a conversation to better understand each other.

6) How has your FilmFreeway submission process been?

The FilmFreeway submission process has been thoroughly helpful in connecting filmmakers from around the world to us.

7) Where do you see the festival by 2023?

Life Screenings 2023 will be in every major city in the world; it will be invited to the top attended film festivals in the world to curate at least one two hour block; it will be invited into people’s living rooms to share with others in a communal intimate atmosphere.

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

Amelie

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

A great film is one that has a connective quality of specificity in telling a story based on the human condition. In other words, it’s story.

10) How is the film scene in your city?

Orlando has a thriving educational film scene with three colleges. It is exploding with students learning to tell a story with moving pictures.
 

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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 single month. And the FEEDBACK Monthly Festival held in downtown Toronto, and Los Angeles at least 3 times a month. Go to http://www.wildsoundfestival.com for more information and to submit your work to the festival.