Todd Looby recently became the executive director of BendFilm Festival. Looby spent eight years as construction manager for Chicago’s biggest firm, teaching himself filmmaking on the side and eventually making the leap to full-time filmmaking in 2008. Looby’s second narrative feature, LEFTY, screened at festivals across the country and was named in “The Top 10 Movies of 2009…” by the Chicago Tribune’s Metromix. His follow-up, Son of None – a narrative short shot in Liberia – won the Special Jury Award at Slamdance 2011 and won Best Short at the Boston Film Festival.
His latest narrative feature, Be Good, stars indie-favorites Amy Seimetz and Joe Swanberg and was called “well acted, crafted and observed” by Variety. In addition to his filmmaking, Looby has helped program Slamdance since 2011. Prior to working at BendFilm, Looby was the executive director of a successful non-profit that runs a boarding school in Liberia.
When asked about the challenges of his new role, Looby said, “It’s hard for me to talk in terms of ‘challenges’ because I typically gravitate toward things I don’t inherently know how to do or are not yet good at. That’s not to say I find any individual part easy – quite the contrary. But I am interested in how to make each facet of this job fun.”
He continued, “For instance, many people don’t like fundraising because you have to talk about ‘money,’ but I’ve always seen fundraising as a way of connecting people to a passion. And so far, the fundraising I’ve done has allowed me to meet some amazing people who are really supportive and enthusiastic about the fest. Having them in my corner gives me a lot of confidence that we’ll put on one of our best fests yet come October.”
Looby feels that he and the board are charged with finding the best films that fit their mission – solidly independent and something that speaks to people in the region. He finds programming really exciting because “there was a time when big festivals ate up all the good films. But now those festivals have to reject a lot of really excellent films and those films – and the filmmakers – receive their just dues at BendFilm. It’s also an opportunity for our audience to see incredible stories they might not otherwise be able to see in theaters.”
He pointed out, “There are so many moving parts to a film festival and there is a high probability for error for a multi-day, multi-venue, multi-media, multi-activity event. However, I have met several of our volunteers and they are all extremely knowledgeable about how the fest works and they take their jobs seriously. We all want to show people an incredible time within the theaters, at the parties, and the incredible setting of Bend, Oregon. I can’t wait to celebrate with our audience.
“My head is filled with ideas and excitement for how to make BendFilm stand out even further and how to celebrate such an amazing place as Bend, Oregon!”