Interview with Brandon Ruckdashel (Program Director) NewFilmmakers NY

Brandon Ruckdashel has served as a film programmer for NewFilmmakers, YoungFilmmakers, and as a juror for the Asian American International Film Festival.

NewFilmmakers NY is a weekly screening series based at Anthology Film Archives on the Lower East Side. To learn more about the NewFilmmakers Festival and to submit your film, go to their website at

1) What is NewFilmmakers succeeding at doing for filmmakers?

Unlike most festivals we run as a year round series. We program a minimum of 55 events a year and this brings our total films screened to between 750-1000 depending on if we receive extra dates.

With the flexibility our screening schedule gives us we are able to do more diverse and varied programs. We can screen films that many festivals would pass over simply because they do not “fit in.” We also make a special effort to program events that focus on groups traditionally marginalized by the mainstream Hollywood film industry. These groups include women filmmakers, our NewLatino series, and nights specifically for black filmmakers.

2) What are the qualifications for the selected films? Does the film need to be made by a first time filmmaker?

We do not have any specific qualifications. Needing to be a first time filmmaker is actually a very misunderstood representation of our name. We believe that all filmmakers who produce independent non-studio backed films fall into the NewFilmmaker category.

Many NewFilmmakers alumni return each year with their new film or films and we enjoy following their progress.

We are always looking for documentaries to fill into our programs and this coming June we are programming an entire month of LGBT themed films.

3) How many events to do you a year?

55 events per year. We also occasionally add in between 3-7 day festivals as our schedule allows.

4) Where is your cinema located in New York City? How is the area for the arts/film scene?

The Lower East side is the historic New York arts district. No other part of New York city can claim as many artists in residence.

We are located at Anthology Film Archives on 32 Second avenue (corner of 2nd street & 2nd avenue)

5) What motivates you and your team to do this festival for the last 19 years? When did you come aboard?

We originally started NewFilmmakers as an opportunity for NYU film students, who had no access to a theater, for screening their student projects. NewFilmmakers continues to provide opportunities for filmmakers to screen films that might be passed over by traditional film festivals. Screening at Anthology Film Archives amongst the posters for films shot by Jonas Mekas, Jerome Hill, P. Adams Sitney, Peter Kubelka, and Stan Brakhage sharpens this motivation.

I joined as a volunteer six years ago handling technology and marketing. We launched an online distribution platform (NewFilmmakersOnline), a new scheduling interface for the website, and the NewFilmmakers Quarterly Magazine. I took over programming duties about three years ago and have enjoyed using my understanding of the filmmaking process to help promote filmmakers and give them screening opportunities.

6) How has the festival changed since its inception?

NewFilmmakers started out as a “no fees, no forms, no deadlines” event and has evolved into an established and well respected screening series. Although we still receive them on rare occasions we definitely screen a lot less VHS.

7) Where do you see the festival by 2020?

That is a tough question to answer. So much has already changed in the last year with the addition of DCP as a screening format and moving our nightly events to all digital delivery. Four years seems like a short period of time, but their are many technological advances expected within the film industry by then. Not least of these is the advent of HEVC replacing H264 which will see our goal of moving to “all digital” delivery become practical.

On the programming side I see more featurette programs putting two or three 30+ minute films together. Unfortunately filmmakers have decided to increase the length of their shorts instead of taking a risk and shooting a feature. This has begun to cause some real programming problems in the last two years.

8) What film have you seen the most times?

I think that’s a toss up between the original “Star Wars” trilogy and “Hook” with Robin Williams. Star Wars appeals to me the most because the technology to make it barely existed and the innovations they were forced to make come across distinctly and add a rough edge, which makes it feel real.

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

Succinct simple efficient pacing which illustrates a story while not trying to prove the intelligence of the filmmaker who directed it.

10) What would one expect when they attend your festival?

We have a photographer. We have a step-and-repeat. We have a party. We always encourage filmmakers to work with each other to bring beverages and snacks.

Every night is a different night. We program in a way that filmmakers with similar styles, genres, and interests are screening together. This creates an incubator type atmosphere where there are a number of filmmakers who can walk away from the night having made new friends or met people they’d like to work with on future projects.

When a filmmaker gets invited to a festival it is really up to them to take control of the atmosphere for the evening. Print a “step-and-repeat,” a few large format posters, and bring lots of information about your film. People love seeing films when they know it will be turned into an event and I can attest that the energy and money put into promoting is always returned by the energy of the audience that it attracts.


Interviewer Matthew Toffolo is a multiple award winning short filmmaker. He is currently the Festival Director for the WILDsound FEEDBACK Film & Screenplay Festival.

Interviewee Brandon Ruckdashel is a New York based actor and filmmaker who recently finished production on his debut feature “Grinder.” As an actor he starred in HBO/Cinemax’s hit series “Co-ed Confidential” and numerous made-for-TV movies directed by Roger Corman alumnus Fred Olen Ray and Jim Wynorski. Brandon’s production company Ruckus Film Works specializes in post production, extreme dialogue denoising, and other delivery services (including DCP authoring).

He can be contacted through facebook at

his website