The Idyllwild International Festival of Cinema celebrates its 10th year with increasing industry recognition and competition among indie filmmakers to be accepted into what has become a festival for making major placement and distribution deals.
Founder and Festival Chair Stephen Savage noted that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, in recognizing the festival, this year approved the festival’s application to be accredited for screening academy-eligible shorts. Savage, who is now a staff writer at Paramount Studios, as well as a successful filmmaker, declined the certification for short films and will reapply next year for academy feature film accreditation for 2020.
“To be eligible for Academy Award nomination and consideration, every film must have a theatrical release,” said Savage. “The Rustic screens first-run movies and would be an eligible theater. If we receive feature academy accreditation that puts the festival in a whole different category.”
Savage notes the festival has come into its own over a relatively short period of time. “Ten years,” said Savage. “Ten years of what called ‘The Greatest Little Film Festival on Earth,’ and the LA Weekly touted as a ‘Mini Sundance.’ I couldn’t be more proud of how far this festival has come, and of my partner, Trinity Houston, and the IIFC team who have made it all possible.”
As an ongoing part of its programming, the festival offers seminars for filmmakers and festival patrons on subjects of interest to both. This year organizers are hosting one seminar — “Film Distribution, the New Frontier” at 11 a.m. Saturday, March 9, at the Rustic. The seminar will focus on how to get scripts bought, and how to get placement and distribution deals with what is becoming a totally new marketplace, with streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon beginning to dominate during awards seasons.
Netflix is in the process of building its first studio complex in New Mexico to become even more competitive. As an example, “Roma,” a Netflix original directed by Alfonso Cuaron, was nominated for several Oscars without a major rollout in traditional academy-certified theaters. Since Netflix does not release box office numbers, there is no official take on how well “Roma” did in its limited academy-eligible theater screenings.
Savage said it’s a whole new world in film, for the most part favoring independent filmmakers. “You don’t have to have some big movie studio deal for distribution,” said Savage. “The Hollywood establishment system is changing. Only Disney makes movies in-house. Just about every film is ‘independent’ by definition. Paramount and Warner Brothers are distribution companies.”
Panelists include Eric Bork, Chris Tung, Roger Goff, Cassie Jaye and Mark Cartier.
Bork is a primetime Emmy winner for his shared work with Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks for Outstanding Miniseries on “Band of Brothers,” and “From the Earth to the Moon” with Hanks, Ron Howard and Brian Grazer; Producers Guild of America winner for Outstanding Producer Long Form Television for “From the Earth to the Moon” shared with Hanks, Howard and Grazer; and 2018 winner Sherman Oaks Film Festival for Best Short Film, Director and Screenplay for “I Got This.” He will discuss high-end film distribution in this changed marketplace.
Tung is a producer and Netflix Originals executive who will talk about how to get package network deals and distribution with streaming companies such as Netflix. “You can go with your 10- to 48-minute film scripts to people like Chris and Netflix will start from the script,” said Savage. “You don’t have to beg some big movie studio for distribution.”
Goff is an established entertainment attorney who brokers deals on behalf of filmmakers seeking distribution, as well as music licensing for films. As an attorney in the film industry, Goff has handled financing and production for more than 100 films, including the Academy Award-winning “Dallas Buyers Club,” “Welcome to the Rileys” (produced by Ridley Scott), “Splinter” and “American Gun.”
Jaye, familiar to IFCC audiences, began her film career as an actor but in 2008 moved behind the camera to become a noted documentarian. In February 2008, she founded Jaye Bird Productions and directed her first feature documentary “Daddy I Do.” “Daddy I Do” premiered in 2010, won numerous awards at film festivals around the world, and became an educational tool to promote Comprehensive Sexual Education in schools. Its success encouraged Jaye to continue pursuing directing.
In February 2012, Jaye premiered her second feature documentary “The Right to Love: An American Family,” which chronicled the fight for Marriage Equality in California and won four Telly Awards. Jaye has been celebrated for her attention to nuance and balanced approach when directing films about politically controversial topics.
Multiple award-winning writer/director Cartier was given his first job out of the Sundance Film Festival by Kerry McCluggage, former chair of Paramount Television. While at Paramount Pictures, he worked in development. Working as a creative executive, Cartier’s first mentor was producer David Foster, who taught him that hard work makes good luck.
Founder of the production company North of Two, Cartier continues to work as a writer, development executive and producer in Los Angeles. Savage noted that North of Two bought four films shown at IIFC 2018 and is currently brokering them to get placement with Netflix or Amazon. He also will discuss distribution in today’s market.
This year’s seminar runs for an hour and is a must-attend for anyone interested in the business of film as it is currently being conducted.
The IIFC website,, offers interested festival-goers the ability to view trailers on many of the films accepted for 2019