Heading into their fifth yr, ReadingFilmFEST is a fall pageant producing a singular smaller more intimate experience for moviemakers.
As moviemakers themselves, the administrators at Studying have an consciousness of what attendees really want and recognize at a movie fest and work arduous to make it a significant experience. With their very own Made in Reading award class, the film pageant plays an essential position in not solely continuing the arts in a struggling space but in addition reviving the group of the central Pennsylvania rust-belt city. With occasions typically curated around the movies selected, this yr’s pageant which begins on Halloween night time and continues via November 3, is certain to be an thrilling expertise. MovieMaker spoke with artistic director, Tracy Schott, to study more about plans for this yr’s pageant.
Sara Romano, MovieMaker Magazine (MM): How did ReadingFilmFEST get its begin?
Tracy Schott (TS): ReadingFilmFEST was created by the Reading Film Office about five years in the past. The then film commissioner referred to as me and stated, “I want the film office to take over doing the film festival and I want you involved.” I had simply accomplished a documentary film and was submitting it to movie festivals and going to them and I used to be really in movie pageant world. I assumed positive I’m a great individual to do this because I’m dwelling this right now. We’ve all the time type of put ourself out there as a filmmaker’s movie pageant. We all stay in this area and we do work in this space and we all know how arduous it is to get in to good film festivals. I’d all the time stated I’ve been to the good, the dangerous, and the ugly. I sort of knew what I favored in film festivals as a filmmaker—I needed it to be enjoyable, I needed to have a lot of opportunity to meet individuals, I needed it to be reasonably priced, I needed some instructional alternatives and I needed an audience. I type of felt like due to my own experiences, I had an opportunity at what filmmakers needed and that’s actually paid off. We’ve advanced as being acknowledged by the filmmakers who come as being a very good expertise for them and my entire factor was if the filmmakers come, the native audience goes to have a a lot richer experience than in the event that they weren’t here. I all the time say if filmmakers aren’t at a movie pageant, it’s simply going to the films.
MM: How many filmmakers are you expecting to attend the pageant this yr?
TS: I’m anticipating in all probability 45 filmmakers. And which may not be from 45 movies, as a result of some films send their entire forged and we embrace them in that number however 45-50. I feel final yr we had 48 and every year it will get better, greater.
MM: As a smaller movie pageant, what are a few of the benefits to having a extra intimate sized fest?
TS: You get numerous personal consideration. And also you make pals. In case you’re a filmmaker and also you come to these, it’s very fascinating. I used to be going via all the footage we’ve and the filmmakers are hanging out with each other, getting to know one another, they’re sharing information about their films. And once you’re a small indie, particularly for those who’re not dwelling in a metropolitan area, it’s really rewarding to hang out with different filmmakers who’re doing the similar type of work you’re. The networking for filmmakers, I feel, is unimaginable. And I feel it’s a lot simpler to truly make that occur in a smaller venue than an enormous one. I was simply at Tribeca final month, and Tribeca is awesome, there’s so much going on. But in the event you stroll into Tribeca and also you don’t know anyone, you higher put on your networking hat and work really onerous to make those connections. You don’t have to work that onerous at a smaller pageant, we actually encourage those connections to occur and it’s just easier and friendlier in a smaller setting.
MM: Speaking of the space, I assumed it was fascinating that you simply described ReadingFilmFEST as a part of Reading’s Renaissance. What are some of the difficulties Studying has faced? And why is the metropolis an necessary location for a film pageant?
TS: Reading, Pennsylvania is a very previous metropolis. It’s had plenty of ups and downs. There was a whole lot of previous cash here in the 1800s and early 1900s. What meaning is there’s superb architecture in this group. As a result of when you will have cash and wealthy individuals, they build great mansions and delightful buildings and monuments to themselves. For filmmakers, who are all the time excited about places, once they drive up to Studying, the first thing I hear is what a cool city. However in the last 20-30 years, Reading has suffered. The financial system has modified. There’s a number of poverty right here. There’s additionally been a change in the inhabitants landscape. All of that creates some angst and pain for a small metropolis. At one level in 2011, the metropolis was named the poorest metropolis per capita in the U.S., not a distinction that any city needs to have.
That being stated, there are a variety of actually good individuals and organizations in Reading which are working to make the city better, to convey the crime price down, to deliver companies back to city, to deliver individuals back to work, sleep, play. There’s a whole lot of arts on this metropolis, and that goes again greater than 100 years. There’s lots of really fantastic tradition and that’s never gone away no matter the financial system. For Reading Movie Pageant, we’re one other cog in that wheel. We’re another asset that the group has to supply to individuals considering of relocating their enterprise or their families to the area which is what we would like individuals to do.
MM: Do you assume you might clarify the importance of the Made in Studying movie award class?
TS: Because we’re a movie workplace presenting the film pageant, we would like to encourage local filmmakers. We try to construct on the production group that’s here. For the most part, if your movie was made right here, we’re going to present it here, we’re going to offer you an viewers and we’re going to offer you that opportunity to be a part of this film group. We have now an award for the greatest made in Studying movie. They’re all the time very properly attended—the forged and crew are close, mom and pop, and everyone else comes out. We began it considering, oh this can be a good way to get individuals to come to the pageant, and then realizing it’s so much greater than that, it really was an necessary means to help the local film group and assist individuals make connections within that group.
MM: I observed that Reading additionally has a brand new feminine filmmaker award category this yr, how did you choose to embrace that?
TS: We’re part of a consortium of arts and cultural organizations which might be doing a celebration of girls in the arts, celebrating the 100th yr anniversary of the 19th modification. I assumed let’s have fun feminine filmmakers, the time is true and we’re all ladies who run this pageant and I would like to do that. We all the time have feminine filmmakers represented however this yr we’re performing some main outreach. As well as to that, our local AAUW, the American Association of University Ladies, is supporting this effort and giving us a small grant that’s helping us usher in ladies—cover their journey stipend to come and converse on a female filmmaker targeted panel. I feel that’s going to be a very dynamic instructional piece for the pageant. We’re also going to do a block of films by ladies.
MM: That’s awesome, particularly because you’re a totally female-ran film pageant. Are there going to be another new classes, packages or occasions this yr?
TS: We’re nonetheless in planning levels for all of the specifics. Yearly one thing new happens and numerous it gets dictated by the films which might be chosen. So as to help our attendance and be sure that each film has an viewers, we collaborate with other organizations. Last yr we collaborated with the Studying Symphony Orchestra, who’s youth orchestra carried out Samuel Barber’s “Adagio for Strings” following a documentary on Samuel Barber. The filmmaker was here, and the Q&A was run by the Director of the Studying Symphony Orchestra. That was a very particular event, very nicely attended and that occasion came out of creating a choice to embrace that film in the pageant. Our movies are chosen by a jury. Every movie is seen by three jurors after which the highest rated are seen on my own and the jury director and we put collectively a program that we expect is going to attraction to our local viewers. We attempt to be actually truthful about it—having multiple individuals view a film, however then we even have to look at what our audience will like. We do other things as nicely, we had a block of movies on the opioid crisis last yr and we brought in representatives from several remedy organizations. We also partnered with Jazz Fest and we brought in a documentary movie and speaker, in order that turned our closing night time event and we actually like doing that. We like making it celebratory.
MM: For the previous couple of years, you’ve had a special scholar fest section devoted to scholar filmmakers. I used to be wondering how that acquired began and why you guys value including scholar filmmakers at the pageant?
TS: Once more, it does come again to this idea of rising our native movie group. In our county there are 5 universities and schools and all of them supply some type of video production or filmmaking. And everyone knows that media manufacturing is a massively well-liked and rising job area, so we needed to encourage local college students and provides them a venue. We have been struggling getting enough submissions regionally, so we expanded it and it was a world competitors. A number of the movies that we’ve proven at the scholar fest, which type of opens our pageant, we do this Thursday night time, quite a lot of those we truly replay throughout the coronary heart of the pageant simply because they’re so good and topical and fit in with different films.
MM: Opening day of the pageant this yr falls on Halloween, I was questioning in case you have anything particular planned for the vacation?
TS: Nicely, we all the time find yourself with a handful of thrillers that come via and we have now some jurors that simply love thrillers, so I see us doing one thing on Halloween night time. I feel we’re going to have to do a late-night group of thrillers and we’ve been bopping round the concept of somewhat Rocky Horror at midnight for enjoyable. We don’t sleep anyhow for 4 days so we’d as nicely simply go for it. MM
Studying Movie Pageant runs October 31–November 3, 2019 in Reading, Pennsylvania. For extra info, visit their web site right here.