What sets your festival apart from other short film based festivals?
We really are about the attendee. Since this festival was born on and for Valentine’s Day, we really like to make sure our attendees have a complete experience with the event. So we do a pre-mixer with wine, cheese and other goodies (we’ve had great offerings from PopChips, Muji, Rishi Tea, NYC Condoms, as well as custom made perfumes by Signature Scents, etc.) one hour before the first film goes on. We’ve had couples who make our event their annual event to attend and we’ve had singles who come because it’s fun and doesn’t make them feel like an outsider on such a romantic day.
Do you have something special for the 8th annual Love Actually International Short Film Showcase?
We always have someone unexpected to screen at our event. This year we get to be one of the first festivals to screen new work from Oscar Nominated animator John Dilworth. That’s always a treat to be able to share the works of well known filmmakers with our audience. We usually get a few well known animators to screen with us. Signe Baumane screened at one of our first festivals and we’ve followed that up each year with other well known animators.
Is there something in particular that you look for in submissions? Or are there multiple factors?
I personally curate all submissions, which means I’m watching sometime 200+ films within a month timeframe. Sometimes, it’s heartbreaking to turn a film down but I have an idea of how the flow of the event should go and programming a festival is a lot like producing an album. You have to think about the attitude and feel of the content flow so, sometimes there may be an awesome film that is submitted but it may just not have the feel we’re looking for that year. The great thing about our organization is, we do tons of other screening events during the year so we often invite some of those films to screen later in the year at one of our themed showcases.
What is the overall goal for your festival?
Our initial goal was bring people together on this one night to celebrate love, sex and romance in cinema. When you say that is sounds sappy, but we’ve had films that communicated sadness, that made you laugh, that made you think, that made you angry..all the emotions that come with Love, Sex and Romance. So it’s not always happy endings…but they are all honest interpretations of the filmmakers thoughts on those subjects.
Do you have an interesting story that has taken place during a past festival?
The best story comes from our first festival, where two single people came on a first date to our event. The next year they both came again. By this time they were happily in love and dating. They continued to come every year for their anniversary. That to me is one of the most awesome outcomes from this event and the one I will always hold dear.
How is your festival received locally?
Well, the very first year I wasn’t sure how this would go. It was a shot in the dark. The night of our first event, there was a line going out of the theater and people begging to get in. Since then, we have always sold out every seat. People love the selection of films. People love that we provide Valentine’s Day candy and goodies. We even had Debi Berndt, The Millionaire Love Coach join us and give dating advice to the audience. So I think most people see this as more than just a festival.
Where do you see or would like to see your Festival in the next 5 years?
Bigger venues and different offerings for attendees. We want our event to be the must attend event on Valentine’s Day.
Can you share some advice with filmmakers who are interested in being part of your festival?
First, know what you’re film is really about. One love scene does not a film make. Secondly, be sure to follow submission instructions to a tee because it can be the difference between getting in and not. If you’re unclear, we’re pretty available for questions about the submission process because we don’t want your film eliminated before we even see it. We like having hard decisions to make. Lastly, don’t send films in that are older than 3 years or have been in heavy rotation online. We don’t mind if you’ve had it in other festivals (we get award winners from SXSW, Sundance, Tribeca, Palm Springs, Brooklyn all the time), but if it’s been everywhere online that’s something we look at. It’s doesn’t eliminate you, but it’s factor we look at.