One of my favorite events is back this month: Indy Film Fest on July 17 – 26! It’s the 11th year for the festival but will be my third attending. In 2012 and 2013, I had the chance to screen a few films and write reviews that were posted on the festival’s website. You can read all about my 2012 experience here.
They aren’t doing reviews this year but I love this event, so here I am blogging anyway. I thought I would share a few things I’ve learned over the last couple years to help first timers have a great experience and fall in love with the fest.
- Have a game plan. The festival is 10 days of non-stop movie madness. There are films playing all day, every day in multiple theatres at the Indiana Museum of Art. You could just show up and take your chance on whatever happens to be playing – a festival roulette of sorts. But, your safer route is to check the schedule in advance, watch trailers/read synopses and plan out your week. I like to get the printed version on opening night and highlight my choices (nerd alert!), but you can buy your tickets in advance on their site and build an online schedule too.
- Take a chance on something different. If judging a book by its cover is wrong, judging a film by its trailer or synopsis can be too. Get outside your comfort zone and see a film that might look a little strange or is something you would normally skip. Last year they showed a documentary about these crazy good, super intense Tetris players. On paper, it sounded like the strangest, quirkiest movie and I debated not going. It ended up being one of my favorite films that year. And on the other end of the spectrum, there’ll be some that look great based on the trailer but might fall a little flat for you. You’ll never know unless you show up, so keep an open mind.
- Stay for the Q&A. By far one of the coolest things about the festival is getting to meet the directors, writers and actors of some of the films. Last year director/writer/producer/craft beer drinker Joe Swanberg spoke after the screening of Drinking Buddies. It was awesome to hear him talk about the process of making the film, what it was like working with the cast, etc. It can be incredibly nerve-wracking to sit through a screening (sometimes their very first) and watch the audience’s reaction. Even if you didn’t love the film, stick around, learn about the creative process and show your support of people who are putting it all out there for you to judge.
- Don’t skip the shorts. The festival screens full feature films but also shows several shorts, which are typically 40 minutes or less. The shorts programs can be hit or miss but great short films pack the punch. One of my favorites two years ago, Cadaver, was just shy of 8 minutes but it was incredibly moving and worth sitting through the other shorts to see.
- Bring a jacket. There are few better ways to escape the summer heat than sitting in a cool theatre. But about 10 minutes into each film, I’m inevitably freezing in my shorts and tank top. Layers are clutch.
- Thank a volunteer. The Indy Film Fest board is comprised of volunteers who all have full-time jobs. They work year-round to bring amazing, unique, cultural events to the city. During the festival, a crew of additional volunteers puts in countless hours helping make each screening flow smoothly. A quick thank you as they take your ticket goes a long way.
- Get connected. Follow Indy Film Fest on Twitter and like them on Facebook to get the latest updates on the schedule of events, after parties, giveaways and more. And of course I’ll be posting my 140-character reviews that week too.
The goal of the Indy Film Fest is to create a shared experience around film and I guarantee you will walk away from the week feeling inspired and energized. The festival is your chance to get in some culture, support independent artists and further position Indy as a Midwest mecca of movies. Who needs Tribeca or Sundance when you’ve got the Indy Film Fest?
Pass the popcorn and let’s start the show!
What did I miss Indy Film Fest veterans? Sound off and share your tips!