Festival Director Todd Looby shares his experiences with us
You are headed into your 12th year. What's your secret?
BendFilm has always been "By Bend, for Bend". Our community is incredibly supportive of the event. All or our screenings are very well-attended, we have an amazing volunteer corps. And some of Bend's biggest institutions sponsor us. We always need to improve and grow and when we express needs, we have a very supportive community to reach out to.
Do you have a favorite film that has showcased at your Festival?
We showed so many great films in 2014. I helped program the Narrative Features and a recent film that I was so impressed by was "Bob Birdnow's Remarkable Tale...". The performances and script are so tight that it turns a movie that shouldn't work on paper into an incredibly engaging and moving film. It also won best Narrative too which carried with it a $60,000 Panavision camera package award - it was well-deserved.
Is there something in particular that you look for in submissions? Or are there multiple factors?
Like with Birdnow, I love indie films that do things with a film that bigger films don't dare. I like that the limitations of indies bring about incredible ingenuity and creativity. I love films that shouldn't work on paper, yet do.
Can you tell us a little about your focus on Indie films instead of the Commercial Market?
Bend, OR is an incredibly cool town. It's beautiful. It's surrounded by some of the best natural areas you can hope for. However, it's a 3-hour drive from most larger municipalities that regularly screen more indie films. Focusing in indies allows our audience - both townspeople and travellers - see something in a theater they otherwise would not have the opportunity to do. And we made a big effort in 2014 to get filmmakers here. The community really appreciated the interactions with the filmmakers. In turn, the filmmakers couldn't stop talking about how great, knowledgeable, gracious and welcoming our audience was.
Do you have an interesting story that has taken place during a past festival?
We hosted Tony Kaye of "American History X" fame. Tony is an extremely interesting guy and artist. Tony premiered his new doc, "Humpty Dumpty" in front of Daniel Skaggs' brilliant, "Freeload". After "Freeload ended, Tony stood up and said something to the effect of, "This man is a true filmmaker, I am a fraud!" Daniel was smiling ear to ear.
How is your festival received locally in Oregon?
Please see question #1. We receive SO MUCH support from Bend, Central Oregon, Portland, Eugene, Ashland and elsewhere. The Oregon Film Office is a perennial sponsor. We feel very connected to the Oregon Arts scene and supported by it. I came here for this job from Chicago and I'm really impressed with the film scene here and the importance the arts receives here. There are few states with as many great fests as Oregon does.
Where do you see or would like to see your Festival in 5 years?
We need to grow to keep up with the community's demand for more of our programs. In 5 years, I'd love to see the BendFilm Institute thriving - this is a vision we have to foster local filmmaking for people of all ages, Indie and commercial. I'd like to see a new program that may serve as a small market for some of the emerging, niche film-centric distributors. We'd like to have even more screenings year-round. And, overall, I want BendFilm to be even more of a "Must stop" on the Fall Independent Film Fest circuit.
Please share some advice for Indie Filmmakers.
Work without going broke. Write everyday. Don't say, "This won't work". Submit to our fest and come to Bend!