Rebecca Norris is a writer and filmmaker with her production company Freebird Entertainment. Her award-winning self-produced feature film, Cloudy With a Chance of Sunshine, is currently on the festival circuit. Rebecca also writes the Writers on the Web column for ScriptMag where she explores the production process of creating web series, and enjoys teaches screenwriting classes and webinars through Screenwriters University and The Writers Store. Rebecca is also a busy script analyst who has read for multiple contests and production companies. Follow Rebecca on Twitter at @beckaroohoo!
Once in awhile you come across a film festival that really does it right. Today I’d like to review such a festival: the Breckenridge Film Festival in the resort town of Breckenridge, Colorado.
In my recent article – Film Festivals – A Guide to the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly – I talked about characteristics of ‘good’ festivals, taking into account organization, filmmaker-friendliness, community interest, and so on. Breck Film Fest is one of the most organized and filmmaker-friendly festivals I’ve ever been to, and has an impressively strong following from the community, so if you’re producing your own work, it deserves to be on your radar.
My husband and writing partner Kevin Resnick and I were honored that our feature, Cloudy With a Chance of Sunshine, was chosen to screen at this year’s festival in September. Since I had never been to Colorado before, we jumped at the chance to go.
First off, the festival assigns you a liaison for the duration of your stay – that’s right, your own concierge to personally assist you while planning your trip and to help you navigate the festival. As we learned, these liaisons are community volunteers who are giving their time for free just because they love filmmakers. Our liaisons, Eileen and Chris, couldn’t have been nicer or more accommodating, welcoming us at the opening night party and coming to a panel we spoke on. Since we arrived a bit late in the day, they were even kind enough to pick up our badges and drop them off at our hotel for us.
Speaking of our hotel, Breck Film Festival offers free lodging to the filmmakers. Free lodging! Having paid thousands of dollars for lodging over the years at various film festivals, it was a real relief to have two nights of our lodging covered. (Additional nights are offered at a steeply discounted rate.) Our lodging wasn’t just a normal hotel; it was a ski vacation condo with full kitchen, next to the mountains and a lovely lake, kindly donated to us by the owner of the unit! This was our second clue of how much this community loves filmmakers.
Our condo was situated right near downtown Breckenridge, which is just about the most idyllic ski town you can imagine, chock full of cafés, shops, restaurants, wine bars, chocolatiers, and, of course, a lift to bring you up to the ski hills. I could have spent the entire trip scarfing Double Chocolate Coconut Crunch deliciousness from Mary’s Mountain Cookies (and nearly did, but I had to push past my cookie habit and actually get some business done.)
Almost every event in the festival was situated downtown, so it was an easy walk to most everything. There were multiple opportunities to mix and mingle with other filmmakers: a filmmaker welcome party, opening night party, industry party, closing night party, filmmakers brunch, wrap party, and so forth. Normally these events can be a burden on an already strained filmmaker’s pocketbook. However, at every party we attended, the festival supplied free drink tickets, so nary a dime had to come out of our pockets, other than to tip the bartenders. That was an unexpected treat!
Speaking of free food and drink, those were offered in abundance all day at the Filmmaker’s Lounge, a storefront for filmmakers to chat with each other and grab a quick bite, glass of wine, or craft beer in-between screenings or panels.
As far as screenings, many of them were packed with members of the community, which was fantastic. Our screening night, which featured three comedy shorts before our feature, was nearly sold out, with over 150 indie film lovers in attendance! It was amazing to see how tied in the Breckenridge community was and what a great job the festival did at advertising our screenings and getting folks to come out, even on a chilly September evening.
One thing that differentiates Breck Film Fest from others is the value it places on short films. At many festivals, shorts can fly under the radar while the features get all the attention. In this case, it was actually the reverse, where short filmmakers had the lion’s share of the screening slots and award categories. If you have a short film, I highly encourage you to submit it to Breck Film Fest so you can have the chance to really showcase it.
In fact, since we came with a feature, the focus on short films was the only drawback to the festival, in our opinion. The festival asked for our feedback, so we let them know that we’d love to see more award categories for features, and also more opportunities for comedies to have a chance to shine.
We had a wonderful time at the festival, and were very pleased with the response our film received and the new friendships and relationships we made. The volunteers from the community were so hardworking and everyone we met made us feel warm and welcome. We can’t wait to go back again, and stay longer next time!
I know as writers and filmmakers our festival submission dollars can be limited, and so Breck Film Festival should be at the top of your list for a festival that provides great value and exposure for your film.
Learn more about the festival at: breckfilmfest.org
Submit your film to Breck Film Fest on WithoutaBox HERE!
- More articles by Rebecca Norris
- TRUE INDIE: Film Festivals – A Guide to The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly
- Austin Film Festival 101: Why to Go & How to Plan Your Trip
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