Filmocracy hosted an event in support of funding more women’s film festivals. We talk about its importance along with Filmocracy’s festival streaming platform.
For anyone starting out in the film industry, getting on the festival circuit is important. It’s how you stand out amongst a sea of content. It’s where you go to meet and network with fellow industry professionals. Participating or placing in a film festival helps creatives find an agent or a manager or just anyone scouting for talent. Most importantly, festival circuits are the place to go in the hopes of finding distribution for the release of your film. They’re a critical part of the film industry. One that’s severely undervalued, underfunded, and underrepresented.
For every type of film festival, there is usually a distinct call to action and search for a particular type of artist out there. Most of these collaborations seek to represent unique voices, with one of the biggest advocacies of late having been those supporting more women in filmmaking.
Yesterday, Filmocracy held a digital festival in support of these female film festivals. These online showcases feature female-centric film fests from all across the world. A space where audiences could visit online panels and even chat with filmmakers and festival heads in Filmocracy’s unique digital rooms.
Co-Founded by CEO Paul Jun and Chief Product Officer Kasia Kaczmarczyk, along with Jon Fitzgerald (former director of festivals such as Slamdance and AFI), Filmocracy is an independent movie streaming platform with thousands of indies and a gamified rewards system approach to ratings. It’s also, one of the largest organizations for attendance at independent movie festivals held online.
For the first quarter of 2022, a dozen all woman-helmed or themed festivals were given a total of $50,000 in funding through this program. Paid half in cash and half through access to Filmocracy’s industry-leading festival technology, including education and VIP admission, and participation in this year’s hybrid Filmocracy Fest.
What The Event Was Actually Like?
The event was also sponsored by some pretty influential organizations that support women in film. This included The Alliance of Women Directors, Women in Film & Video DC, Women Make Movies, The National Film Festival for Talented Youth, The NY Women in Film and Television, Ink Tip, and Film Ink.
Of the nine-film fests selected from across the world, each had a representative share of how their organizations had supported female and non-binary filmmakers in distinctly unique ways.
Whether it be through helping women make movies on their cellular phones (such as the case in Africa), or just showcasing what’s worked for female and non-binary filmmakers in terms of breaking into the industry, there were a lot of resources made available in this event for filmmakers looking for voices, and more importantly, for financiers who might be looking for the next big female director. There were a ton of networking opportunities all throughout the experience.
The 9 Female-Centric film festivals included in the roundtable talk were:
- African Women Mobile International Film Festival
- Black Femme Supremacy Film Fest
- Cinema Femme Short Film Festival
- Cinema Sisters International Film Festival
- Girl Improved Film and Television Festival
- Melbourne Women in Film Festival
- Topaz Film Festival
- Women of African Descent Film Festival & Youth Film Festival
- Women’s Voices Now
A big highlight of the evening, which I think should be stressed not just for this festival but in general, was that women-led projects and filmmakers still struggle in overcoming androcentric barriers. This included the obsession with the heroes’ journey approach in Hollywood over more emotionally driven films, but also the need for overcoming the Western views of cinema. Since things can be done in completely different ways, as Bollywood or East Asian cinema has showcased. The biggest highlight across the board for each group was the need for better gender parity, as highest-paid directors, and really just directors in general, are still predominantly male.
There was also the stress of increasing visibility, and a desperate need for transparency for funding as both content and marketing play a bigger role than ever before. Toni Williams, the Co-Chair of the Women of African Descent Film Fest, stressed the need for resources for women filmmakers during her talk. “This includes the ability to find funding, access to more production resources, and really, just having more women creatives in the industry across the board.”
During the Expo, where guests could attend separate panels and speak with each Film Festival’s organization, a lot of information was discussed in each group about what each festival had been working on.
This included a showcase of some of each festival’s directors, and also, just engagement with the audience curious about anything regarding their festival. Really, just anything about women trying to gain visibility via the festival circuit. Even someone like myself, who was very much trying to just cover the event in private, ended up talking with some of the leadership at Cinema Femme, as I’m going to likely write about and attend one of their events this year. Which I didn’t intend but that’s sort of the magic of this type of networking.
Some of the biggest discussions by the event’s end were in overcoming imposter syndrome as an up-and-coming female director, the need to learn quickly and adapt, and surprisingly, the generational creative gap. There was a surprising amount of young women filmmakers in the final panel who felt like their generation isn’t properly being written by people who knew their stories. Stressing the unfortunate feelings of feeling unseen while hinting that there is a fix to this – get more women in the film industry that can speak with their own generational voices.
What’s The Platform Like?
Before we talk about the end, let me stress really quickly that the Filmocracy Streaming platform works surprisingly well! I wasn’t sure what to expect because so many organizations have done online formats since the pandemic began, and, having attended BookCon, San Diego Comic-Con, New York Comic Con, and DC FanDome all online in 2020, I must say Filmocracy’s user interface was easily the best application I’ve experienced.
With the main stage, several panel rooms, and places to network and genuinely talk to each other online. This was the most conventional I’ve felt in an online convention. For people like myself who love panels and networking, this was an absolute steal. The platform allowed for this to be a surprisingly encouraging experience that I think is perfect for what they’re trying to do in both being safer than in-person conventions, but also, in being applicable as a cost-saving networking opportunity. There were even some side chat applications that could also feature both video and audio where you can get to know people more independently, as I’d learned with Cinema Femme.
Final Panel Discussion with Quinn Shephard: Girls Make Movies
To conclude the evening was a final panel discussion of the evening. You can read about what it was taken directly off their Eventbrite page:
All the panelists are girls and non-binary persons under 20 who have completed multiple film projects, and received recognition during festivals, film camps, and film programs for youth. We’ll talk about what inspired them and explore the most rewarding and most challenging parts of the process of making a movie as a female or a non-binary person. We’ll discuss the role of filmmaking in today’s world, and how they would like to leverage their artistic visions to create change.
Hosted by Quinn Shephard and Andee Kinzy
At 20 years old, Quinn Shephard wrote, directed, and starred in Blame, which premiered at the 2017 Tribeca Film Festival–making her the youngest female filmmaker to ever screen a feature there. She is also the writer and director of the upcoming satire feature film Not Okay for Searchlight Pictures and Hulu, starring Zoey Deutch and Dylan O’Brian. Quinn was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award nomination for Best First Screenplay for Blame, and is a 2019 Forbes 30 Under 30 list maker. She was also a metuchen grad.
Founder and Director of the Girl Improved Film & Television Festival, Andee Kinzy is a multi-hyphenated Renaissance woman who writes, produces, and directs – both in film and youth Shakespeare productions. Her favorite herb is cilantro and she has more curiosity than a cat.
Ashleigh Lawless is a 19-year-old directing film major at the Los Angeles Film School. She started making movies around her neighborhood at the age of 10 and hasn’t stopped since. Most recently, Ashleigh has had two self-written & directed films complete festival runs, created content for companies like the Boston Bruins and MIT, and has found a love for production and post-production sound mixing.
Paola Perez is a long-time student filmmaker. She is from Miami, Florida, and started making movies at 6 years old. She has been nationally recognized for her documentary skills by C-SPAN and has founded a film club at her high school. She aims to return love in the movies, while also exploring the nooks and crannies of the human mind.
Kate Saltel is a Canadian-American filmmaker and writer from Austin, Texas. Her short experimental film “Metamorphism” was screened at SXSW, NFFTY, and the BFI Future Film Festival during its worldwide festival circuit. She currently studies film and TV production at Loyola Marymount University – writing weekly satire for the Loyolan and sketch comedy for Sorry In Advance.
Michelle Tang is a 17-year-old filmmaker from Metuchen, NJ. As a storyteller, she is interested in youth perspectives when facing adverse situations and neurodivergent experiences. Her short film “Hunter” has screened at the DC Independent Film Festival, winning awards from the Barrymore Film Center, the Garden State Film Festival, and Scholastic. She is currently working on a science fiction film with her school’s filmmaking club and writing a screenplay about the psychological effects of the foster care system on a young girl.
Arianna Williams is a teen activist and organizer based in NYC. As a photographer and filmmaker, Arianna has dedicated their art to creating spaces and telling stories that are often misrepresented or disregarded in mainstream media. Throughout her work, Arianna explores themes of growth, self-reflection, and the elaborate interconnections between themselves and those around them.
Filmocracy’s film festivals seem to be a great networking opportunity. I suggest fellow creatives or film makers try them out, especially if you’d like to get involved with or network with the indie film circuit.
Also, support more female filmmakers!