There will be 6 sessions with two on Friday night then 4 sessions on Saturday. Tickets are $10 per session or you can buy a two day pass for $30. Check out their website for more info. Tickets can be bought here
Ross was nice enough to answer a few questions for us. Here are 10 Questions With Ross
10 Questions With Ross Bigley
This year we have a total of 53 films screening this season; it's our biggest, most jam-packed line up that we've ever had. One of the things that has become apparent through the years is that filmmakers are making shorter short films. The perfect length is now around 4-7 minutes. I don't know if festivals had an influence on that or not, but as a festival director we do prefer shorter films. It means we can program more in a block of programing, it means a chance to bring in more of an audience.
2. How many are from Milwaukee and Wisconsin filmmakers?
Typically 80% of our submissions are International films. Then 10% from L.A./NY/Chicago and a few scattered states, and 10% from Wisconsin. And, every year you don't know what you get until they all come in. For us, we are extremely lucky that our reputation as a quality festival has reached far and wide. We are well known in the United Kingdom, South America, France and are big in Sweden. They write about us and we've filtered through the film-making communities all over the world. This year, we got the same number of International fare, but the local % grew. It grew so much that there were difficulties in deciding what should go in. Ultimately we picked 36 films from Wisconsin most from the Milwaukee area.
3. How has local films evolved over the years?
Well, when we first began 20 years ago it was primarily experimental films. UWM's film school is focused on experimental filmmaking, but as the technology grew more affordable we've seen an explosion of filmmakers outside of the UWM system. Filmmakers with different backgrounds and points of view. There are hundreds of filmmakers in Milwaukee and more than one institution to study film, I've taught film at MIAD, there's AI, MATC and filmmakers who don't even go to a film school. But as a filmmaking community we are young. When you got other areas like Chicago, New York and L.A. we are young. So there are some growing pains that we should work out. When I have Industry judges view the work we talk after wards and they discuss the quality of the films, and it comes down to execution of concept and how well you tell the story. Right now because you have the toys, the dolly tracks, the drone shots, the crane shots, etc it still comes down to story and execution. Production value is nice but you need to say something original. It is improving, and the quality is getting better. The work this year from Milwaukee is very strong. These filmmakers have something to say.
4. Where do you see the local film scene in 10 years?
I think as technology expands so will the filmmaking community. I think the UWM cuts might also hurt that institution, and AI will be gone in a few years. So we could have a much more diverse and different filmmaking community. 10 years ago it was pretty much experimental films and a few on the outside. 10 years from now it will be much different and you got to change with the flow or you become irrelevant. Our festival is looking ahead and making plans, and we will also have to make changes to stay in the area. I myself might not be around here in 10 years, I do have other things I want to do and I can't be in Milwaukee to do them, but I'll still back to run the festival. Local filmmakers need a venue to show their work.
5. How many submissions did you get this year?
I have yet to count every email, but through Withoutabox and Film Freeway we got to 470. Add in all the emails and those asking for waivers I say its about 530. And I watch every single one all the way through.
6. What other countries will we be seeing films from this year?
We usually get films from about 22-25 countries, this year it was 37 countries. Tom Marshall who won Best Film for "big_boy74" is back with a superb film called "dark_net", another previous winner, Fabrice Bracq has a new film titled, "Dad in Mum". There's also films from Poland, Iran and France.
7. What would you like to tell us about the Voices Heard program?
As I mentioned earlier the filmmaking community was different 10 years ago. One of the things I noticed was the emerging group of multi-cultural filmmakers. We had in the past got few films from local filmmakers (until this year), so we didn't get much from minority filmmakers here in Milwaukee, and the UWM film students are primarily white. And MKE Film generally pulls their Milwaukee Show from that group. Yet with AI (Art Institute) here in Milwaukee that student body is very diverse. It is primarily made up of Milwaukee's minority community. Its a very diverse group and its growing. I felt that it was a group that wasn't getting their voice out to the public, hence the title Voices Heard. This is the first time in Milwaukee that there is a showcase dedicated to the local minority filmmaker to bring out the city's diversity. Rubin Whitmore and I have been friends for 20 years and I thought he would be the best person to curate that program. He selected the films, and it is being judged by some heavy hitters in Hollywood, local community leaders and professionals, there will be a "Best Film" and an "Audience favorite". Milwaukee Production Rental is sponsoring the prize package as well. This line up of diversity has even spilled over into our regular programing. So this festival is the most diverse group of local filmmakers you will see in the city. And if we are successful we have discussed spinning this off into its own festival. I want all voices heard in the local filmmaking community.
8. Can you tell us about some of the adversities and challenges of putting together a festival like this?
Time, time is always a factor and challenge. Plus money. I don't collect a salary and that's fine with me, but we are better known outside of Wisconsin than in it. Hopefully some of the changes we are planning will get us as well known inside Wisconsin.
9. What do you like most about Short Films and what made you want to put on a Short film festival?
I was a part owner of an Art Gallery in the 90's and I felt there wasn't a venue for filmmakers, that's why I started this in 94.
10. You said that in the future that the festival might be considered an Oscar qualifying festival. That sounds very exciting. Can you tell us about the process and where you are with the process?
We qualify and have been in discussions with them. Next year we are making slight changes to fall more in line with how they do things, so with luck our festival will be the only Oscar qualifying fest in Wisconsin. Still it's early, but the talks were promising.