Rebekah Louisa Smith, Ph.D., “The Film Festival Doctor,” could have used her doctorate from the University of Wales, Aberystwyth, to teach. Instead she carved a niche career as a matchmaker – marrying films to particular international film festivals. She recommended three films for screening at the sixth year of Stephen Savage’s Idyllwild International Festival of Cinema (IIFC 2015).
“My interest was film audience research studies, how audiences engage with films on an emotional level,” said Smith of her academic focus during her four-year pursuit of her doctoral degree. “I developed quantitative and qualitative metrics for evaluation of that relationship,” said Smith. “After university, while working as one of the producers of Wales’ national horror film festival, the Abertoir Horror Festival, I realized the need new filmmakers have for managing their film festival placement process. There was no one to help them [the filmmakers] with the research and networking,” she said.
And with that, five years ago, Smith started her consulting company. Smith helps emergent filmmakers understand the film festival sector, and specifically helps them design, manage and implement their film festival submission strategies. She guides them in securing film festival invitations for individual films and gives them step by step advice on what to do before, during and after a film festival.
Smith pointed out in interview that a particular festival might suit one of a filmmaker’s films but not all. She breaks her strategies down into specific plans for feature, short and student film submissions. She also offers consultations in how to best use Neuro Linguistic Programming techniques to secure desired festival results and how to create online marketing strategies and campaigns as well as film development, finance and distribution methodologies.
“It’s about finding the right home for each film for each festival,” said Smith. Her company provides management services for film festival placement, social media campaigns, theatrical distribution and premiere and private screenings. With a nod to her academic roots, Smith’s company also provides workshops, teaching and festival consultancy packages to film schools, production companies, corporate clients and universities.
UK films that Smith is bringing to IIFC include the world premiere of a feature drama, “Solitary” by director Sasha Krone, a fantasy-thriller-comedy featurette “The Boy with a Camera for a Face” by director Spencer Brown and “Crude,” an “Eco-Thriller” from director Charles H. Joslain.
In her spare time, Smith writes short stories and pursues a spiritual path. She said she is excited to be attending IIFC 2015 and getting to know Idyllwild. Smith is assisting IIFC Festival Director and Founder Savage in gaining screenings in the U.K. and on the European continent for his filmed-in-Idyllwild feature “Vertical.”