What sets the Flagler Film Festival apart from other festivals?
Like most festivals out there, we are trying to offer an outlet for innovation and creativity in film. But if we are different in any way, I believe it is our dedication to helping filmmakers start or advance their careers. We want our festival to be all about the filmmakers along with the cast and crew who often work for little or no pay. After attending several festivals with my son (who is a filmmaker), and seeing how much amazing work is out there, I decided to start a festival in my home town. I truly believe there is a tremendous need to have more outlets for aspiring filmmakers and independent films. Audiences want to see films that are creative and new. The effort that is put into making a film needs to be recognized, even if the filmmaker had little or no money to make the film.
Do you have a favorite film that has showcased at your Festival?
Asking about a favorite film is a difficult question for me to answer! Speaking for the festival, we had many different genres shown so it would be difficult to choose between the eye-opening effect of a serious documentary about breaking ships apart in India called “Shipbreakers” or the serious environmental effects of war called “Scarred Lands and Wounded Lives: The Environmental Footprint of War” and fun, light-hearted comedies like “Mama Needs a Ride” and “Things My Father Never Taught Me.” We had some really terrific films in each category this year. I happen to enjoy romance comedies or dramas personally, so if I had to choose one film it would be a feature from Ireland called “Made in Belfast.” But that is not to say I didn’t enjoy every single film that we showed, because they all had merit and I actually learned a lot from the documentaries that we showed.
Is there something in particular that you look for in submissions? Or are there multiple factors?
We look for several things in our submissions. I would say the story is the most important factor (or the subject matter, if it is a documentary). We like to see an interesting, compelling story which will entertain (or inform) our audience. Then we look for the quality of the production. We have seen some amazing shorts and feature films done on very low budgets.
What is your goal for your festival?
Our goal for the Flagler Film Festival is to bring together our audience and quality productions in a local setting. We want filmmakers of any budget level and from anywhere in the world, to have a chance to get their stories told and recognized. And in bringing the films to the public, the goal is to have an inspiring, interesting, thought-provoking and fun time watching movies!
Do you have an interesting story that has taken place during a past festival?
I wanted to give something back to the community through the festival, so I thought using one film as a fundraiser for a local charity would be a nice idea. We are in a beach area with a good sized surfing community, so I asked a filmmaker who grew up in our county and made a surf film if we could use his film as a fundraiser. He was really enthusiastic about it and the proceeds raised from the screening went to the charity.
How is your festival received locally?
We receive a lot of support from our community. We are located in a community that supports the arts. We have artists, galleries, two repertory theaters, a large auditorium which brings in all kinds of entertainment from Broadway traveling shows to ballet and opera and now the Flagler Film Festival. Our local news outlets were extremely supportive in covering the festival. Our local radio station, WNZF interviewed me prior to the festival and sent a reporter to interview people during the festival, and we got a lot of press from both of our local newspapers (Palm Coast Observer and the Daytona Beach News Journal) as well as our e-newspaper, Flaglerlive.com. which is also one of our sponsors. We have a film production studio located in our town called 10th Voyage Studios, which is a sponsor for the festival. Local businesses allowed us to post notices about the festival in their stores and offices and helped spread the word. Our Chamber of Commerce has been a great supporter helping to get the word out about the festival. We have a great town for a film festival!
Where do you see or would like to see your Festival in 5 years?
In five years, we hope to still bring quality films to our audience while expanding our festival to include more student films and hopefully be able to offer prizes and/or scholarships. We hope to grow each year and to become a favorite festival in the filmmaking world!