The perfect festival to jump-start your career and dive deep into truly Independent films
What sets your festival apart from other festivals?
CF: I like to say PollyGrind is a film festival of a different breed. What does that mean? Well, it means we threw out the film festival rules and started from scratch. PollyGrind is about storytelling, it’s about creativity, it’s about filmmaking, it’s about pushing buttons and pushing boundaries and working beyond outside the box. In short, we are a true indie film festival. I personally am bored with most of the stuff Hollywood makes and I am bored with most of the faux indie Hollywood films, as well as the indie films that are wannabe Hollywood films. I am passionate about filmmaking and storytelling and I would rather see a movie from somebody that is passionate about what they are making then somebody who just makes movies because they can. In short, PollyGrind looks for films with heart, soul and creativity over films with money and names.
Do you have a favorite film that has showcased at your Festival?
CF: One singular film would be tough to pick. I have many favorites though; too many to discuss all here because honestly I have to fall in love with a film before I will program it. But at the top, I’d say Dead Hooker in a Trunk, Daddy’s Little Girl, Desolate, My Name is A by anonymous, The Bunny Game, Boys Cry, Bulletface, A Measure of the Sin, Benny Loves Killing, Slime City Massacre, Play Hooky, I am Death, The Gruesome Death of Tommy Pistol, Race War, Another Zero in the System, To Jennifer, Final Entries, Adam Chaplin, Day Job, Ratline, and I could go on and on and on and also tell you exactly why I love each one. But regardless if they were action, horror, gore, arthouse, exploitation, dark comedy, crime, drama, found footage or whatever, they gave me experiences I had never had before, made me think, inspired me and through creativity were able to go leaps and bounds above their budgets. On the short film side, I’d say I have totally fallen in love with the work of Jennifer Campbell (Hike and Bruised) and I so badly want to see what she can do with a feature.
Is there something in particular that you look for in submissions? Or are there multiple factors?
CF: There is no checklist per say or anything. In fact, I’d say what I look for is probably the complete opposite of what most filmmakers think I look for. I hear it all the time, “wow. I didn’t think you’d like my film.” And then they end up winning the fest. (LOL) Again, PollyGrind is about breaking the rules of a film festival, so there is no “needs to have this and a name and look like a million bucks” type of test the films have to pass. In other words, the films are only competing against themselves. I look for films that set out to do something and do it, while entertaining me.
What is your goal for your festival?
CF: Inspiration and helping give voices to the voiceless. The goal with PollyGrind has and always will be to help filmmakers find audiences so they can have their films seen, and to help audiences find films and filmmakers. Many festivals are about the actual event itself - glam and glitz - and are very exclusive. PollyGrind is about finding talent and championing it. We’ve had more than 80 films in four years that we’re official selections that landed distribution after playing. We’ve embraced unknown filmmakers like The Soskas Sisters early in the career and now they’re shooting films for Lions Gate. James Cullen Bressack is another we embraced and now he shoots films for The Asylum and Animal Planet. We want to help jumpstart filmmaker’s careers in that regard. It’s not that it’s anything we do necessarily; PollyGrind is just willing to stick up and stand up for unknowns and say, “hey, even though nobody might not be embracing this at this moment in time, this film or this filmmaker is good.” In the 90s there was a time when unknown filmmakers with little indie films could actually breakout at big festivals. We all know the stories of Robert Rodriguez, Quentin Tarantino, Kevin Smith, Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sánchez, etc. But the landscape of film has changed and now so many more people are making films with budgets that make El Mariachi, Clerks, The Blair Witch Project, Reservoir Dogs, etc. seem like huge budget films. As an example, Play Hooky is a film I really like a lot. It had absolutely no budget and was shot on a $200 camera. Well, I feel it is a film that should be seen. It world premiered at the festival in 2012 and now come this October, it will be the very first release from the PollyGrind Presents distribution label. I’m not saying this is at all on scale with those Sundance success stories I mentioned, but I feel it’s a different game now and PollyGrind is on the side of the little guys that so would be overlooked otherwise. As a festival each year, PollyGrind tries to experiment and learn from past events. We’ve given out distribution three of or first four years and now are distributors ourselves. Learn, grow, inspire, and be open to new voices and ways of doing things, that is the PollyGrind way.
Do you have an interesting story that has taken place during a past festival?
CF: PollyGrind has quite a few stories of inspiration and cinema magic for being such a young event. But a favorite of mine would have to do with legendary filmmaker Albert Pyun. In 2011, PollyGrind had a kick off concert that the Roxy Gunn Project played at. Roxy Gunn Project is a great Las Vegas band that I am a huge fan of. Well, Albert Pyun saw Roxy Gunn and instantly said she was the missing piece to his film Road to Hell, which he had been working on since 2008 or so. The concert was in early October and by Halloween time, Albert was shooting with Roxy and her band for the film. Road the Hell then opened PollyGrind the following year and won the audience award as it was our biggest ever attendance of any screening we’ve ever done with 200-plus people. It’s a totally wonderful thing to be a part of something like that. On smaller scales, there have been so many filmmakers that have met other filmmakers or actors at the event and then collaborated together. There have also been filmmakers inspired by something they saw, leading them to experiment with different genres and such as well.
How is your festival received locally?
CF: PollyGrind is highly respected nationally and internationally, but being in Las Vegas, its local base is less than I wish it was. The locals are coming around, but it has been tough. Vegas is so used to fly-by-night events that come and disappear that it’s hard to get this community to take you serious. Everybody thinks that all you have to do is throw a party in Vegas and everybody will come. I’d say at least 75 percent of our audience is from other cities, states and countries. It’s frustrating sometimes, but overall I am happy with the PollyGrind community. It is an international community and anybody that wants to be a part of it is welcome.
Where do you see or would like to see your Festival in 5 years?
CF: In five years, PollyGrind will be 10. I hope by then we’ve been able to inspire many and to some degree made a difference in the independent film world. My dream is for the festival to have its own venue; a place that could hold concerts, screen films, host art shows, burlesque shows, be able to have a haunted attraction, a bar, a merchandise store and a small convention type space. If that were the case, I see PollyGrind functioning year round with events. Hopefully, things also go well with our distribution venture and we will be well established in that regard as well. But most of all, in five years, I just hope PollyGrind is still around and growing stronger and stronger each year. I’ve seen so many festivals come and go in the short time PollyGrind has been in operation, so I am very happy and thankful PollyGrind, a very grass roots, no budget event, is still kicking.
Submissions are still open!
PollyGrind Film Festival
October 16-18, 2014