How to Curate a Film Festival 101

Recently I spoke to a filmmaker regarding the amount of submissions I receive.  “…How could I possibly decide which films are right for the Metro Film Festival…How could I judge someones art?”

Well, the answer for me, and I would hope this is the answer anyone serving in my position would use is: I think you have to put your “judge” cap on.

For me, that’s simple.  I use my greatest character flaw.  When I’m watching a film, and if I find myself judging the film…saying to myself “I like this movie…(or more importantly) I DON’T LIKE THIS STORY…” Then I know the film has compelling qualities.  I’ve engaged in the story and the characters whether I like them or not.  And this is one of many qualities that makes a movie take on a life of it’s own.

This is not the only criteria I use of course, but it’s the red-flag that helps me to determine whether I’m going to watch an entire film, or if I’m going to pass the movie on to another Festival programmer who might be interested in watching the entire film.

Another criteria is production quality.  (I like grain, but the images must be clear.)  Then there’s Genre.  (Too much gore or nude stuff can change whether Roku rates a channel as Family friendly, or Adult.)  Length.  (I tend to put videos under 15 minutes into a hour-long “Short Film Showcase.”)  Medium.  (No teasers or trailers, but Featurettes that have complete story are very welcome.)

I hope I’ve shed a little light on things, and offered up some advice for programmers and filmmakers too.

-Dean Lachiusa

PS: If you’re wondering what my background is, during Film School I operated the Media Pool Filmmakers Co-op in Phoenix, with over 200 members in 1997.  Media Pool networked Russo’s Star Theatre in Phoenix, and organizations like the local chapter of WIF (Women in Film.)  I then managed the Pan Left organization’s Tucson office until they decided I wasn’t a Communist (it’s a long story.)  I was influencial in re-launching Tucson’s AIVF chapter and it’s reformation into the IFASA – presided over by Pearry Teo.  And I spent a few seasons working for the good folks at the Arizona International Film Festival in Tucson.  My last stint in the use of actual “celluloid” ended in 2004 when I sold my Moviola flatbed editor for $300.

 

 

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