Welcome to the FIRST ever ‘Friday Exclusive’ (name tentative). You’re probably wondering “what the heck is this Friday Exclusive thing?”. Well, it’s our version of a spotlight or a Friday feature, and an opportunity for us to sit down, interview local event organizers who are doing incredible things in the industry and pick their brains about how they got to where they are now.
For the very first Friday Exclusive, we’re honoured to have none other than a man of many talents and the Director of the Hamilton Film Festival, Nathan Fleet! Side note: Nathan was also the very first person to express interest in using our event listing and ticketing services before we launched in May 2016, so having him as our first Friday Exclusive guest couldn’t be more fitting.
And just in case you were wondering, Nathan is the one on the right. The guy on the left just happens to be Daniel Baldwin, no big deal.
If you’re unfamiliar with The Hamilton Film Festival and the incredible work that Nathan does, I would highly recommend checking that out and get familiar with it… especially if you’re in the Hamilton area! Hopefully this interview can shed some light on that and then some.
So let’s get right to it!
Q | Birth of Hamilton Film Festival – how did it all began?
A | The birth of the festival goes back to a small indie screening at the Staircase Theatre called “Lost and Underground” that was run by Lorne Kredle and Brian Van Adel.
They would screen indie experimental films at the Staircase Theatre around year 2000. I had heard about it and went to some screenings. The Staircase became a stop for something called the Canadian Traveling Film Festival and I got involved volunteering at the door.
It was in 2004 then manager Rob Newberry and I sat down and talked about an annual event and we agreed to call it Hamilton Film Festival. The festival was a Staircase Theatre event. I took it over in year 10 and have been working on expanding the event.
What was once a single screening is now a 9-Day event that includes the Canadian Film Market (Film sales and Industry Development), the Hamilton Film Expo (A celebration of indie film) Lights Camera Hamilton (An initiative to help grow the local industry)
Q | Tell us a bit about the first movie showcased at the Film Festival
A | Well, we didn’t have a program with the titles but I remember 3 of them. What Makes Your Heart Sing by Laura Hollick, With Intent by Derek Dwyer and Marshmallow, a Super 8 short I directed.
That was the first and only time I put one of my own films in because I wasn’t running the fest at that point.
Q | Alright, this might be one of my favourite questions. What makes a film great for you? Are there certain qualities that make a film better for you?
A | I review films, and instruct the jury to do so as well, the way I watch a film in the theatre. Sit back and enjoy. It’s really that simple. I love great acting and a great story. I can forgive quality if it has those.
Unfortunately, bad audio almost always gets rejected. In fairness, I often reach out to the makers during the selection process and ask “is this final audio?” Just this year I watch a really good film but the audio was poor. Luckily I reached out to the filmmaker and it was a fixable technical flaw.
Q | What role have film festivals played in your life so far? Why are they necessary? How do you get the most out of them?
A | I have been making films for about 20 years now and have been submitting and attending just as long. Running the Hamilton Film Festival happened because the Staircase asked me to and what better way to stay in Hamilton and watch Indie films!
You have to realize, there was nothing like this in Hamilton back then. AGH had an experimental film screening called Photophobia, which has been revived, but if you made indie comedy, drama, docs…there was nowhere to screen them.
Back then festivals rejected digital copies. They only accepted film prints or expensive Beta copies. We showed DVD and VHS and filmmakers loved it. You need festivals more and more because theatrical release for indie films is almost unheard of. Movies are made to be watched on the big screen with an audience.
Goal #1 at HFF is the theatrical experience.
Q | If there is one or more thing(s) you can think of that would make the film industry better, what would it be?
A | I love where the industry is going. So much great stuff out there it’s hard to complain. Budgets / financing is an obvious answer here but that is the case with anything, anywhere in life.
I do hope that bigger films start to utilize Hamilton talent more often. That would really help the local industry. We’re contributing to that with the Lights Camera Hamilton initiative.
Q | What’s new in this year’s Festival? (November 4th – 12th 2017)
Would love to tell you but I can’t until mid August. Music is the theme this year so live concerts will be on the menu and we’re opening the festival like never before! 12 is my favourite number and this is the 12th annual so I said to myself early on that I just want to have fun.
It’s a huge undertaking but this year I want some of my favourite things so I can enjoy it like an audience member would. The Canadian Film Market is returning which is a huge plus! Distributors picked up some films because of it. That has never happened in Hamilton before. We’ve never had a market so we started one.
Whenever someone says “I have an idea I want to run by you” I usually have YES in my head. I love trying new things. We’re not run by a board so we can turn in any direction at any moment. The rocker in me prefers that. For that reason you will see some new stuff at HFF this year!
Picture: The Zoetic Theatre screening of The Red Maple Leaf (sold out)
Q | Any tips for all the budding film makers out there to get featured at the film festival (or any film festival)?
A | Easy. Make a great film. We’re around every year so take your time, make it great, we’ll be waiting with open arms!
Q | And final question! How did you come across Brüha, why did you initially use our platform and what has your experience been like so far?
A | You guys got in touch with us during our first Hamilton Film Expo. I loved (and still love) working with the team because everyone is really nice, very responsive and wide open to ideas.
We definitely work together on, and during, the event. It doesn’t feel like a separate thing. I also love the fact that you’re Hamilton based. I can come and see you anytime! We aim to earn the “Hamilton” in our title and Bruha definitely fits. You can bet our 12th year will include a whole lotta Bruha!
Well, that’s about it for our very first Friday Exclusive! A huge thanks again to Nathan for being willing to take part in this and sit down with us to talk about The Hamilton Film Festival.
If you’re still curious to learn more about the festival and interested in attending this year (which you SHOULD), be sure to follow along and watch out for updates on their social pages: @HamiltonFilm (Twitter), @HamiltonFilmFestival (Facebook), and @HamiltonFilmFestival (Instagram).
Until next time,
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