a rather interesting interview to get an insight into festivals...
Q: How long have you been the Festival Director for the CFC Worldwide Short Film Festival?
I have been the director of the WSFF for almost four years now. Time flies when you’re having fun.
Q: What did you do before you were director?
I was the Festival Manager for the WSFF. You could say that I grew into the position of Festival Director.
Q: What advice would you give to someone who wants to work in film and perhaps have your type of job one day?
I always advise people to volunteer or do an internship with a festival. That way you get to see the inner workings of an organisation up close and personal. It’s also a great way to see what sorts of roles might suit you.
Q: Take me through a very brief and general outline of the steps and timeline leading up to a festival? (ex: How far in advance do you start planning for the June festival?)
We plan for the festival year-round. Indeed some of our special programs may take us a few years to put together. We’re always on the look-out for new and exciting programs. We have contract staff working with us for about six months of the year. There are lots of components that have to come together to host the WSFF from stuffing delegate bags for our festival guests to getting our ticketing system up and running.
Q: What are the ingredients to creating a successful festival?
Great films are the main ingredient in the festival equation, but I think you also need a great team of dedicated staff and volunteers and of course a great ad campaign to get the word out about your event!
Q: What would you say makes this a unique festival? Why do you think people love coming to Toronto?
The WSFF is unique in Toronto because we only screen shorts. We aim to screen the very best in recent short film and video from Canada and around the world. People love coming to the WSFF in part because Toronto is a lot of fun in the summer. Our out of town guests always comment on the friendliness of Torontonians, and what film enthusiasts they are.
Q: What is your specific role during the actual festival?
I introduce screenings, host filmmakers and make sure that festival runs like a well oiled machine.
Q: What do you do the rest of the year when the festival isn’t in session?
We spend a lot of time reporting and wrapping up the festival. The WSFF also runs an online film festival: shortsnonstop.com and we also take the ‘Best of the Fest’ on tour. We also curate special programs for other festivals and travel around the globe to find the latest and greatest in short film and video. It’s pretty busy, even in our ‘off season’.
Q: What do you look for when selecting short films?
A unique story! Good acting and sound are also important, but really, story is key.
Q: What makes a short film stand out to you?
Lots of things make a film stand out, but for me it’s all about telling a story in a fresh new way.
Q: Who should people be looking out for this year as promising up and coming directors?
That’s top secret until May 11th! Log onto www.shorterisbetter.com to see our 2010 line-up the minute it’s launched.
Q: Do you have any personal favourite entries?
Of course! Every programmer has films that they champion and want to see programmed at a festival.
Here are some of my favourite films from last year:
JOLANDA 23, directed by Pim Zwier from the Netherlands. It’s a verite doc that looks at the very specialized practice of cow portraiture.
THIS IS HER, directed by Katie Wolf from New Zealand which is an expertly crafted film which juxtaposes the birth of a girl and all the things that will transpire in the next 20 or so years of her life. It’s funny, irreverent and a joy to watch.
THE SPINE, directed by Chris Landreth a psycho-realistic masterpiece from Oscar winner Chris Landreth carefully analyses and dissects a co-dependent marriage.