For those truly interested in filmmaking, this year’s Festival was the place to be. The event delivered nine days of movie bliss combined with panels, interactive events and the chance to meet some of today’s film prodigies to find out firsthand what it took to get their films made. And with over 1,000 entries and 285 films screened, the competition was fierce.
The best of the fest received awards, including Best Documentary winner Killing in the Name, directed by Jed Rothstein and produced by Liz Garbus and Rory Kennedy. The film follows Ashraf Al-Khaled as he tries to understand the nature of terrorism after 27 members of his family were killed on his wedding day by an Al-Qaeda suicide bomber. Also among this year’s winners: Way of Money (directed by Tilman Braun) won Best Creative Commercial; Stanley Pickle (directed by Vicky Mather) won Best Experimental; Zero (directed by Christopher Kezelos) won Best Animation; The Man Who Married Himself (directed by Garrick Hamm) won Best Comedy; Paraphernalia (directed by John Williams) won Best Drama; Between Heaven and Earth (directed by York-Fabian Raabe) won Best Foreign Film; The Activist (directed by Phillip Montgomery) won BEST of FEST; and The Gift (directed by Carl Erik Rinsch) received Special Recognition.
In addition to screenings and social events, the Festival offered insightful Coffee Chats where attendees could sit and interact with industry experts to discuss key topics, such as how to get your film in front of an audience. I attended one chat with Laurent Boye from JAZO P.R., the public relations representative for the Festival. Boye has also handled movie publicity for the Cannes, Berlin, Toronto, Sundance and Dubai festivals.
“On top of having so many winners whose movies become eligible for an Oscar nomination, we try to bring you tools to make your feature,” said Boye. “A lot of short film festivals talk about shorts. At L.A. Shorts, we know your next step is a long-form movie.” And what is Boye’s advice for those ready to tackle promoting their short film? “Please make a plan,” Boye said, noting that filmmakers should know which festivals to submit to and when to submit. “Make a budget including submission fees, shipping, travel, accommodations and duplication. Making a short is an investment of money and time –– treat it like a business.”