The Portland Film Festival 2016 delivered an impressive eight day showcase of independent films that came in from all four corners of the globe. Completing only their fourth year and already making headlines as a nationally recognized festival (TOP Festival to attend by MovieMaker Magazine), we got the chance to sit down with founder/executive director Josh Leake to share with us his elaborate endeavor.
Q: Tell us a bit about PDXFF.
A: We launched PDXFF in 2013 and recently were told that our film festival feels like a festival that’s been around for many more years. We are fortunate to have been voted as a TOP film festival to attend by the press this year which allowed for us to reach a much broader demographic of national and international filmmakers from our start-up years. We’ve been grateful to have skipped our “terrible” two’s so to speak and present a festival that’s growing quite rapidly among Indie filmmakers from around the world. In 2015, we have over 1500 industry people attend with hundreds of filmmakers in attendance. this year we exceed both of those figures. Opening night this year featured a speed networking event that brought in over 125 people from as far off as Australia that had the unique opportunity to meet with distributors, which is the primary goal for most filmmakers.
Q: Your volunteer team has been highly recognized as one of the biggest and most dynamic components of your festival. Tell us about that.
A: One thing that makes our festival unique is that we are 100% volunteer driven. That model really brings people that are dedicated and are committed that love film.
Q: Tell us about your opening night film VIP guests that attend from MIDDLE MAN.
A: We were very grateful to have the Writer/Director Ned Crowley and his two lead actors JIM O’HEIR (Parks and Rec ) and JOSH McDERMITT (Walking Dead) join us during the entire film festival. Their attendance complimented our mission to bring recognizable names to our festival that support IndieFilm.
Q: What did you do differently this year than last year that helped your festival model?
A: In 2015, we were in over 15 venues around the city of Portland. But this year we decided to consolidate our entire festival into one venue that would create a much more intimate connection with our filmmakers, guests and local businesses in one area of the city. Logistically it turned out to be much more effective that lead to creating much more dynamic energy in a more controlled environment. We learned that having multiple venues around the city seemed more fractured regarding energy and engagement. But this years model proved to be a true winner for us all around.
Q: Tell us about your core leadership team and your programming.
A: We have over 20 staffers that help out with various aspects of our festival. But one new addition that really complimented our programming goals this year was bringing on SMARTHOUSE CREATIVE Co-Founder, Seattle filmmaker, producer and festival guru BRAD WILKE. Brad has been one of the most valuable programmers at the Seattle International Film Festival for many years. His programming team received over 3800 submissions this year that resulted in one of the most impressive screening schedules of over 120 films from around the world that included 51% from Female Directors. We also really pride our selves on being a ‘storysentric’ film festival that is not genre specific.
Q: Tell us about your educational outreach program throughout the greater Portland area.
A: Last year we featured over 90 workshops, classes, panels and events at over 15 different venues that highlighted multiple aspects of the filmmaking and creative process. Colleges we partner with each year include Clakamus Community College, Portland Art Institute and Portland State University to mention a few. This year we scaled down the outreach to compliment our new intimate connective creative outreach model to less than 30.
Media Inc highly recommends the PDXFF for emerging filmmakers to submit and and attend for 2017!