Every November, Seattle audiences have the premium experience of soaking in some of the best short films throughout the world at the Seattle Shorts Film Festival. 30+ films, six screening blocks, two days, one theater – it’s the best kind of festival experience, one with filmmakers, audiences, and industry members all in attendance.
Washington Filmworks sat down with Festival Director Daniel Hoyos to discuss what people can expect this year from the festival, as well as the role that a short film plays in a filmmaker’s career in the entertainment business.
WF: What does the program look like for this year’s festival?
Daniel: We’re expecting a big crowd this year, first of all. But for this year’s festival we’ve expanded from a one-day festival to a two-day festival and we are showing 31 fantastic short films from all around the world, hosting many filmmakers in attendance, and showcasing a range of films that are very eclectic this year. We have films that deal with social issues, climate change, poverty, and various other issues. We foreground important and relevant ideas through the medium of film, and pack as many as we can into one great weekend. And, as always, we have some really fantastic animation, too!
WF: What opportunities are there for short filmmakers to advance their careers at the festival?
Daniel: At the festival, we pride ourselves on having filmmakers network with one another – because we are growing at an exponential rate and yet at the same time exhibiting the films at the SIFF Film Center (a 93-seat theater), we have the filmmakers interact more with each other in one place and have a lot of press coming down. Additionally, we have two special guests with us this year – Lecy Goranson from Roseanne and Shannon Maree Walsh from Begin Again. It’s a great opportunity for filmmakers to network with industry professionals and get one-on-one time to ask for specific feedback for their films – such as what worked about the film, what can be improved, and how should it develop.
WF: What does the business of short films look like? How should filmmakers find distributors at the festival if they don’t have one already?
Daniel: The business of short film is very different than that of features – it’s a lot harder to get distribution for shorts because of time and length; but, at our festival, we do have press coming down with whom people can mingle and we have other industry professionals who can give advice on where to bring your short next. A good example is ShortsHD, a place where filmmakers can submit their films and have them shown on television which is very valuable. We tell filmmakers about all these various opportunities on what to do with short films once it’s out of the festival circuit so we really like to be that stepping stone for short filmmakers to get their careers started with us and launch them into bigger things.
WF: Speaking of bigger things, what kind of future do shorts have beyond the festival?
Daniel: A lot of shorts, believe it or not, have really good talent in it with A-list actors and have great production value. And because of this, a lot of filmmakers use their short films as jumping off points for a feature production. Many audiences watch a short film and see that the story can be expanded into feature length, so filmmakers take advantage of that perspective. One example is a film we showed a few years ago called The Curfew, which went on to win awards and eventually got turned into the successful feature film Before I Disappear.
WF: Why is it important for filmmakers to make short films? What do they get out of it?
Daniel: Other than being a stepping stone to making features, short films are an important medium because it’s a playground with no rules or limits. If you have an idea and want to make a short film, you can go ahead and make it with very little money – there are no rules with short films. We allow films 30-min and under; they can be about any subject the filmmaker desires and there are no constraints with such a possibility. Directors can test out ideas in a short – get their feet wet, so to speak, and then venture off into other directions.
WF: Why should audiences go to a short film festival when so much short film content is online for free?
Daniel: The reason that people should come to the Seattle Shorts Film Festival is that we show a lot of short films that are Seattle premieres and they haven’t screened anywhere else in the area, which is important because we have a lot of competition and our audiences like attending and having the premium chance of seeing these films first. And, generally, about 95% of our films are not available online so this is the only place audiences will see our films being screened; and the big screen experience is perfect for shorts with top-notch cinematography, acting, editing, and etc. But, ultimately, people should attend these kind of festivals to interact with three important kinds of attendees – the filmmakers, who can meet with one another and begin collaborations; the audiences, who can share their passion and excitement about short-form cinema; and the industry professionals, who are perfect people to both network with and gain incredible feedback from with regards to filmmakers’ short films.
Washington Filmworks thanks Daniel Hoyos for his time, insight, and information on the Seattle Shorts Film Festival. The festival is this weekend, November 14 & 15, and more information can be found on their website here!
Daniel Hoyos is a filmmaker, and director of the popular Seattle Shorts Film Festival now in its 5th year. After graduating with a degree in film, and communications in 2009 Daniel got his first job working for the nationally syndicated TV Show Biz Kids on PBS, as a production assistant. The following year he got hired at the international film festival “National Film Festival for Talented Youth” as the submissions and programming intern. Since then he worked at the “Children’s Film Festival of Seattle” where he helped program the week long 2011 festival, at the Northwest Film Forum. In 2012 Daniel produced his most ambitious short film to date “No One Knows” when 12-year-old Jason looks in his neighbor’s window, he learns he’s not the only kid living in an abusive environment. What he learns will change his life forever. The film was accepted into 18 film festivals, and premiered as an editor’s pick on the Shorts HD Network this January part of Direct TV.Daniel is currently the Indie Film Editor at I Am Entertainment Magazine handling all the featured interviews including a cover stories with Director Elgin James of Little Birds, and Director Maggie Kelly of ‘Dial a Prayer”. In 2013 Daniel became the festival director of the Seattle Shorts Film Festival “Our goal was and is to bring Seattle film lovers the best of short films from the globe.” The Seattle Shorts is an annual festival at the SIFF Film Center. This year’s festival will take place November 14 and 15th 2015 in Seattle, Washington.”