11 Tips for Starting Your Own Indie Film Festival

People always ask me why would I want to start such an event. Really, it comes down to three experiences. First, my family — my grandmother took me to matinees every Saturday when I was growing up. So I watch a lot of movies. As a festival founder, you will watch a lot of films, so it can’t feel like work. It’s got to be something you enjoy or you won’t inspire others to join in.

Second, I was inspired by my experience starting the Portland Film Club — we now have around 1,900 members. We meet at least once a week to watch a film and discuss it afterwards. Having a group of film lovers around you helps too. They’ll support your event both as volunteers and as paying attendees. You need them both, but mostly volunteers when you start. No one makes money in the festival business.

Third: a series of film competitions that I won, which culminated with my first short film, “Emptys,” winning Tropfest in New York. Watching my film with 15,000 other people (not to mention having Hugh Jackman present me with my award!) was just an amazing experience and I wanted to replicate that.

I went on to make a few other short films and even worked with some of the other filmmakers I met at Tropfest. Festivals are about building friendships that will last forever…

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