Kristy Breneman – Creative Director, Atlanta Film Festival
Specialty – Film About Diversity in the Community
Shellie Schmals – Program Manager, Atlanta Jewish Film Festival
Specialty – Film About Jewish and Israeli Culture
Deidre McDonald – Founding Artistic Director, BronzeLens Film Festival
Specialty – Film By and About People of Color
Audrey Thomas – Founder & CEO, Kingdomwood Film Festival
Specialty – Christian and Faith-based Film
On March 23, 2016, WIFTA’s board hosted a meeting on a popular emerging topic in metro Atlanta – Film Festivals. The leading ladies of major film festivals were invited to attend a panel-styled meeting in which Executive Director, Susan Moss asked members of the panel many interesting questions about their respective film festivals. One of the first questions Susan asked was about the particular niche or specialty of each film festival which is noted above. Another thought provoking question that Susan asked was about some of the things that the panel has seen done right or wrong by contestants in the film submission process. Kristy led the discussion with explaining that she loves to see concise cover letters but is turned off by unkempt websites and too much reliance on music in the film itself. Shellie likes to see a good maraketable synopsis and good characterization. Deidre likes to see top notch technical quality and a very compelling story but dislikes time consuming pieces and contestants changing their passwords too frequently, disturbing the judges ability to access the film. Audrey rounded out the discussion by saying that she likes to see a great synopsis and a great title but is disturbed by film submissions that have heavy violence, profanity, or sexuality considering her film festival is faith-based.
Susan engaged the panel with a variety of other pertinent questions about film festivals and then invited the audience to ask questions. Another engaging topic that was raised was about how film contestants could spread the word about their film in order to increase awareness of the film. Some suggestions from the panel included social media presence, radio stations, marketing cards, reaching out to social organizations that may be relevant to the film, and of course old-fashioned footwork – being out in the community speaking and increasing awareness about the film. Some of the film festivals also rely heavily on PR firms to help get the word out about films and the festival. The final major question of the evening involved the panel pondering the ways in which they are targeting women to be involved in film production – after all WIFTA is a film organization for women. Kristy mentioned that the Atlanta Film Festival has its New Maverick’s segment in which there is a focus on film with female leads. Deidre mentioned that there is a luncheon held during the BronzeLens festival that focuses on women in the film business. Shellie mentioned that 7 women directed films were included in this year’s festival but that they don’t yet have an infrastructure in place specifically for women. Audrey also mentioned that they do not yet have an infrastructure in place for women but talks are in progress on how to place a greater emphasis on women during upcoming festivals.
In Addition to Film Festival Discussions. . .
WIFTA plans to roll out its training workshops designed for actors, writers, and producers, soon. Victoria Smith – Actress, Teacher, and Coach – also led a brief discussion about the acting workshops which are set to launch sometime in April 2016. Victoria, who is currently pursuing her M.F.A., claims that her fascination with film and acting began when she was five but she abandoned her first love when her grandmother encouraged her to pursue a much more realistic profession. She took her grandmother’s advice and received a teaching degree but now will combine her practical teaching experience with her passion – acting – in order to improve home-grown talent pools of actors and actresses to be able to acquire local acting jobs on big film productions. Some of the workshop will include scene study, cold reads, improv, monologues and a variety of other acting techniques and topics. A few guest are also expected stop by and assist with instruction. Be sure to check the WIFTA site regularly for times and dates of the upcoming workshops.