THE SYSTEM IS BROKEN:
While filmmakers have never been properly compensated for allowing festivals to exhibit their films, things have only gotten worse. Since the beginning of The Great Recession festivals across the country have exploited the economic crisis as a reason to end filmmaker compensation. Now, it is assumed filmmakers will slave away on a film for years, submit it to festivals at 65 bucks a pop and then politely watch as the festival takes 100% of the box office while giving the filmmaker absolutely nothing.
Audiences are treated no better. Festivals rent second-rate projectors. They exhibit in expensive, antiquated formats (BetacamSP anyone?) and treat audio as an afterthought. Forget 5.1 surround sound…forget stereo. Most festival screenings are in mono. Francis Ford Coppola may have said that “Half of what you see is what you hear” but that hasn’t stopped the majority of festivals from living like it’s 1973.
When a local multiplex with minimum wage high school students can do a better job projecting movies than the festival circuit it should be no surprise that audiences and filmmakers alike do not trust festivals to deliver a superior cinema experience.
WE LOVE CINEMA:
We love crisp, bright projection. We love awesome 5.1 sound. We love the sensation of one hundred people laughing together in the dark. We love smart filmmakers and we love savvy audiences. We are filmmakers who believe that change begins with us…and so, rather than quietly complain about the state of independent film and the festival circuit we are going to make a change.
First and foremost, we want to revolutionize how a festival compensates officially selected filmmakers. They will receive 50% of our box office gross. Not net, gross. Filmmakers will be given space at both the ticket booth and at each screening to sell merchandise...and they will keep 100%. Filmmakers will be reimbursed for travel (up to $200.00 for short filmmakers & $300.00 for feature filmmakers). They will receive a paid hotel room. They will receive pre-paid meals at participating restaurants. And, we will return their submission fee .
Every screening will be exhibited with our own 1080p, 5.1 surround sound system. We always take the time to properly calibrate our gear. We will conduct customer service training with every ticket agent. We will run a shorter festival (4 days instead of the standard 7-10) to ensure every movie is worth seeing. No filler. No junk. If the film is in our festival then it is worth the audiences time and money to see it.
We are eliminating all paper from the festival process. No brochures, no paper posters, no junk waiting for a landfill. 42" 1080p kiosks will be set up throughout the festival area that show trailers, promotional stills, posters, sneak peaks, behind-the-scenes featurettes, film information and daily schedules simultaneously (and can be reused for years to come). This will eliminate the need for expensive paper schedules that are only days away from the local dump...year after year.
Our website will have digital schedules available for iDevices. These will also be available on preloaded iPads located at every venue throughout the festival.
After Parties will be radically different as well. How does a filmmaker talk to fans, fellow artists and potential investors with blaring techno turned up to eleven? Our after parties are going to be more Rat Pack than Brat Pack. Quality musicians who understand how to play a stripped down, acoustic set will host each night's party.
We are eliminating awards. Filmmaking is not an olympic sport. Becoming an official selection is the prize...particularly when the filmmaker is sharing in the financial benefits of exhibition! We believe filmmakers would rather earn $500.00 in ticket sales than receive a $20.00 lucite trophy.
Lastly, we are a touring film festival. Each year we will be in a different New Mexican town or village. We want to promote the stunning beauty of our state. New Mexico is the third largest state in America...we cannot properly promote the land of enchantment if we are always in the same town!
HOW YOUR FINANCIAL CONTRIBUTION WILL HELP:
Your financial contribution will be used for:
1.) Buy cutting edge exhibition equipment, including projectors, speakers, carts & TV's.
2.) Purchase sound-treating material. Since we will be exhibiting in small towns high in the mountains there won't be any local movie theaters. We need to transform local spaces into acoustically amazing spaces.
3.) Media exposure. Our primary goal is to be the example of what every festival should be. We need other film festivals to know what we have done, to see how we have turned their stodgy business model on its ear and to feel pressure from filmmakers who hopefully will ask the question "If the NMIFF can do this, why can't everyone?"
4.) Plane tickets, hotel rooms & food for our annual artists.
5.) General festival operational expenses. From cell phone bills to graphic artists, from vinyl banners to caterers, festivals are expensive. We have eliminated every unnecessary expense we can. However, there will always be overhead in running such a complicated event.
Our festival director is also a filmmaker. He's spent three years working on the award-winning spy thriller, A Lonely Place For Dying. Our associate director is a visual effects artist with a minor in business. Together, their network of friends and family have done projects far more complicated than a four day film festival.
"While I was in college I worked as a theater assistant manager and projectionist. Then, I became a filmmaker. I never thought my first job in this business would be so important, but it prepared me for understanding exhibition and promotion." said festival director Justin Eugene Evans.
"Everyone told us this would be incredibly difficult. And, then we held two screenings of our own movie; one in Albuquerque and one in Los Angeles. And, we realized...this is easy. If you have a work ethic and care about people then this is incredibly easy." said associate director Marc Leonard.
501(C)3 MEANS YOUR CONTRIBUTION IS TAX DEDUCTABLE:
The New Mexico International Film Festival is a 501(C)3. That means your contribution will be tax deductable.
CHANGE THE WORLD:
Culture is a critical component of any society. And, cinema is a critical part of American culture. Cinema culture is under attack from corporate consolidation. The sleepy, ad hoc collection of privately run festivals in our nation do not understand their own importance. They do not realize they have the power to be an alternate distribution system.
Your contribution will help us change the fundamentals of film festivals in America. Help us grow so that we can show the entire industry what a festival can and should be.
WE DO NOT STRIVE TO BE BIG:
But, we do strive to be the best. And, we have checks-and-balances, post-mortems, high quality equipment and that intangible burning in our stomach that demands we do this right. Ghandi once said “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” We accept that challenge. Will you join us?