headshot_ericDear Filmmaker,

When I first began working on the idea of the College Town Film Festival, I had one aim: to create a film festival where the interests of the festival directors would align with the interests and passions of working filmmakers, especially indie filmmakers.

It sounds simple… but I had been involved with many well-intentioned festivals that failed to understand this simple concept. So I knew I had to keep this straightforward goal in sight. With that in mind, I formed a small team that I felt shared this philosophy. That was over a year ago… and today we are about to launch the first leg of our film tour.  So I thought I’d take a few minutes and share with you why I am so excited about this new venture. Be prepared, some of this will read like pretentious bullshit.  I suppose that’s unavoidable when you write about ideas.  However, I can assure that our method for executing the film tour and each festival is highly practical. When we built our team, we concentrated on building a home-office of film lovers and filmmakers. But when we hired our advance team and festival crews, we relied heavily on savvy technicians and project managers with years of experience “loading-in and putting-on a show.”

At my first roundtable discussion with the CTFF team I said something obnoxious like, “I don’t want to be one of those festivals with a practical mission statement that ends up putting on a pretentious, self-congratulatory event.”  But at the end of that discussion, everyone knew I was serious about 1) artistic expression, 2) the indie spirit and 3) the value of aggressive creativity.  They also knew I didn’t give a damn about generating revenue, catering to the donors or preserving an imaginary legacy.  I just wanted to bring together academics, artists and business development folks, in a way that created value for everyone involved.

With CTFF we are genuinely reengineering the festival concept.  Our message is this: we want to promote and support your film; we want gather audience feedback from a focus group that includes several key advertising demographics; and we want to help you build a database that you can share with potential distributors and buyers.  We will help you arrange interviews with local publications… and our festival photographer will provide you with images that you can add to your press kit. Also, we will expand the award categories to can include acting, directing, and other disciplines.

Today, we are just another film festival… but trust me when I tell you i will do everything in my power to separate us from the pack.

It could be said that our mission is pretentious. But we back it up with a very practical approach.  I know we can’t save indie film with a lot of flowery high minded rhetoric.  But we might just be able to move the needle a bit… if we have a solid plan that focuses on the folks who create the product.

At the same time, we believe the following is a core component of our mission:

First, we want to support new collaborations between students and professionals… bridging the gap between higher education and vocational opportunities for film and arts students.

Second, we want to expand the potential market for indie films by fostering a relationship between new audiences and independent film, reaching young people who are never going to a film festival unless a film festival comes to them.

There will be a lot for us to learn, I understand that. But I promise that we will never stop trying to add value to your project and striving to improve your festival experience.  If we do it right, it might turn out to be an important catalyst for  filmmakers, students and yes, even the occasional professor.  Thank you and good luck.

Best Regards,

Eric Zudak