PALM SPRINGS INTÕL SHORTFEST

Palm Springs IntÕl ShortFest is summer camp for short filmmakers.

As promised, I have to declare my bias here. IÕm the Film Curator for the festival, which means I, along with Festival Director Darryl Macdonald, program the festival and choose the films for competition. And as curator, I can say this is the most fun I have all year and a job I treasure.

From a filmmakersÕ perspective, itÕs our goal at the festival to empower, enrich and encourage every filmmaker who visits the festival—whether they have a film in the festival or not. Whatever we achieve in any given year, we try to build on in the following year. I hope that filmmakers find the festival a source of inspiration and education as well as a good time.

The festival receives about 2500 submissions each year. Both Darryl and I, along with our colleague Ken, who helps program documentaries, scour other festivals throughout the year for outstanding films. On average, we program approximately 325 films in the festival competition. Additionally, every film submitted is automatically entered (at no extra fee) in the Festival Market and made available for screening in the Industry Library.

We host about 350 filmmakers from 20 countries during the festival, celebrating their achievements with a party (yes, with food!) every night during the festival. Filmmakers are also welcome at the festival hospitality suite for breakfast and throughout the day.

We are an Academy Award qualifying festival, but in addition to the screenings we provide panels, masterclasses and one-on-one industry meet Ôn greets as well as events such as the Kodak ŌStop by and ShootĶ. When creating the panels for each year, I try to think of all the questions filmmakers ask me and then assemble each of the panels and seminars in response. In 2009 our theme was ŌTake it to the Next Level—Packaging Your First FeatureĶ.  WeÕll announce the 2010 theme in the spring.

Some of the (unbiased) practicalities of attending the festival:

There isnÕt any advantage to submitting closer to the deadline, so save some money and submit during the early bird special.

Whether your film is in competition or in the Market, there can be great advantages to being at the festival, so we suggest making plans early. Make sure the festival coordinator knows your travel plans so we can let press and industry know you are in town.  Try to stay more than just one night so you can take advantage of networking.

If you do decide to come to the festival, remember itÕs in Palm Springs in June: that means itÕs in the desert in the summer. Temperatures are often 105ûfarenheit (which is cooler than the 120û we average when we were held in August, but still hot).

Hotels are cheap because itÕs off season; the festival hosts a chat board where filmmakers can find other filmmakers to share hotel costs or rides in from LA to bring costs down even further.

The festival has shuttles to and from the theaters and parties, and often if you are staying in a nearby hotel they can drop you for the night. But if you are staying outside the downtown core, best to have at least a shared car.

This is a festival with loads of industry so bring your business cards, your postcards, and a few extra DVDÕs of your film.

Be prepared to watch films, mingle and network. This is a great place to see other filmmakerÕs work. You may find a DP youÕd like to work with, or a producer who seems ready to take on a new project. YouÕll also meet your peers, filmmakers youÕll see over and over at other festivals throughout the year. Over the past two years, many of our filmmakers have been programmed at Sundance, Tribeca, Telluride, Clermont-Ferrand, and Vancouver festivals, among others. You will definitely see each other again and again as your film covers the circuit.

Palm Springs audiences are legendary, and they love their short format filmmakers. Be prepared to meet fans of your film throughout your festival stay.

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