The Flick Chicks

Patty Fantasia

Patty Fantasia | The Las Vegas Lift-Off Film Festival is Taking Flight

Submit to DeliciousSubmit to DiggSubmit to FacebookSubmit to Google BookmarksSubmit to StumbleuponSubmit to TechnoratiSubmit to TwitterSubmit to LinkedIn


The Las Vegas Lift-Off Film Festival is Taking Flight

By Patty Fantasia

The Las Vegas Lift-Off Film Festival held its second year run in Las Vegas with screenings from Friday, June 24th through the 26th and a special winners’ night on June 27th at the Brenden Theater located in the Palms Casino Resort. Now celebrating its fifth year The Lift-Off Film festival Global Network considers itself to be the provider of the only worldwide exchange of true independent cinema and in addition to Las Vegas hold similar events in several cities including L.A., Liverpool, Amsterdam, London, Vancouver and Tokyo with Sydney and Singapore soon to be added to the list.

Co-Founders James Bradley and Ben Pohlman met at the Oxford School of Drama in England where they became friends.  After graduation they went to London together as professional actors with a keen eye on filmmaking. The pair explained, “Organically we grew into filmmakers and set up our own production company where we would make corporate films and the occasional passion project. Very quickly it became obvious to us that some festivals weren't doing much for filmmakers, looking to seriously start their career. There's a lot of celebrity delusion out there and obvious self-agenda which ultimately has a negative effect on students and amateurs looking to make a more serious move into the business.”

Lift-Off PictureThe road ahead was fraught with lots of challenges, however. First of all their network is at its absolute baseline a competition. It is a rewards platform where the prize is a form of worldwide distribution so being responsible for what amounts to rejection for some participants as always been tough. They have tried to limit this frustration by providing decent solutions for those that submit projects to them. James and Ben went on, “Rejection can sometimes be tough to take so we feel that by being honest and by giving our filmmakers and submitters as much information as possible as to what the industry expects, what potential employers want - then we can help them to move forward in their career, on to the next project with greater success. Filmmakers aren't just one film, and this is a huge learning process, a process we want to help with.”

Some of the value that Lift-Off strives to give filmmakers is using their submission fees so that all audiences worldwide are provided with free entry to their screening events. In addition, all awards are determined via audience choice with winning films in any Lift-Off City then being screened in all of the other festivals during that season. Soon filmmakers will also be afforded the chance to become part of the organization’s On-Demand Initiative, which should be going live around the end of December.

“We are still in the planning stages; however we hope that the On-Demand service will be able to give our filmmakers remuneration for their work. So far the early signs in our research and development is looking good,” the co-founders shared.

One of their concerns in terms of the company’s growth is the amount of time and energy it takes to develop an audience for a new location. Both James and Ben believe it’s a process that builds month by month, festival by festival for each of the events individually and that generating bigger audiences takes approximately two years worth of word-of-mouth marketing along with a really strong press campaign and social media strategy.

When choosing a new location they look for a strong filmmaking community and examine what the standard of films is coming out of that area through the submissions they receive from other festivals. They look at the cost of travel and venues versus the engagement factor for the worldwide public submission audience then if they predict the balance is right they start making calls and then presto within a few days there’s a new Lift-Off city.

As for adding Las Vegas to their festival circuit the duo said, “Las Vegas and Nevada has some of the best artistic filmmaking talents around but nothing we would call much real or honest support. After running our festival in London we choose to expand into the US and have Vegas as a destination where we could discover new talent and showcase some of the best indie film from all over the world. It's a two way agenda, we aim to give opportunity and we aim to inspire those who engage with the Lift-Off Network.” In fact, James and Ben feel strongly about engaging the Las Vegas film community year round and not simply around the time of their annual event and are also encouraging local filmmakers to submit their projects for the next L.A. event being held in August.

Despite the challenges and enormous amount of work required in order to make Lift-Off function, there is also a great deal of satisfaction. The network has had filmmakers who have found agents, get exciting press exposure and become more realistic in viewing the industry as a business so they can start their professional life in film. One of their screenwriters from Las Vegas Lift-Off 2014 is now shooting the script from that event, which they hope will be a huge success. The co-founders love giving people opportunities and helping them build their confidence and talent while gaining a wider understanding of the bigger industry from a global level and realistic standpoint rather than from an LA or tacky celebrity level.

Lift-Off LV-Poster-1024x640

Right now Lift-Off is flying high with their expansion into new cities; seven festivals in 2016 and then a jump to 10 in 2017. “Our plan is to become the Academy Awards of grassroots cinema, a Lift-Off Season Trophy will be as important to a filmmaker’s career than anything else. We want to be the ‘Big-Break’ that the right artists deserve. Too many are never given a chance and most are forgotten. Give us time, but we're here to change things,” Ben and James promised.

James and Ben
Founders Ben Pohlman and James Bradley.

Q and A2
Q&A session at the Las Vegas Lift-Off finalé.

Actress Kristina Hernandez accepting the Best Narrative award for 'Stealth' on behalf of Melissa Hope.

Trophies 2
Our collection of trophies.

Actress Kristina Hernandez with local UNLV radio presenter Jerry R. Smith

April Kagan David Rosen
Local film-makers April Kagan and David Rosen. - get some good Joomla extensions now!




You are here: Home Features Feature Articles Patty Fantasia Patty Fantasia | The Las Vegas Lift-Off Film Festival is Taking Flight