Thursday, October 2, 2008

Interview with Richard Hooban, Festival Director and Founder of Zero Film Fest

Believe me, we're aware of the trials and tribulations that low-budget, indie horror filmmakers go through. That's precisely why we created this site, to help out like-minded people and have a place where they can read and learn about what other filmmakers have gone through. However, there's more to the world of indie horror than just the filmmakers, there's distributors, actors, writers and the film festivals, to name a few other facets. The film festivals are of particular interest, as not only are they a great place to find an audience, get some promotion and meet other people, but because the festival directors have to go through a lot of the same things as filmmakers do to get their festivals up and running. A lot of them have been around for a while, have big sponsors, are associated with some company and things like that... others just want to be what they are. Zero Film Festival is one of those. Zero is in their first year and they stand for everything that we stand for, promoting and finding an audience for niche independent film. We had the chance to talk with Richard Hooban, the festival director and founder... give it a read. And if you're in the L.A. area, go check it out or get involved!

Tell us a bit about yourself. How'd you get into indie film?

Zero Film Festival isn't about me, I'm just the current connecting and illuminating the bright lights around the world. Zero Film Festival is about the DIY filmmakers and other individuals dedicated to a life of creating...

Tell us about the Zero Film Fest… when and why did you start it up?

I first conceived of the idea for Zero Film Fest after my initial exposure to the "independent" film festival circuit. I looked at the ratio of submissions/acceptances at most of the "important" film festivals, and knew there must be a lot of filmmakers out there who poured their souls, time and money into projects they believed in- but projects that didn't fit a certain formula or lacked studio/financial/celebrity backing- which in turn were completely disregarded by most film festivals. I thought, "These filmmakers shouldn't be getting form - Dear Filmmaker- letters, they should be showing their films to appreciative audiences also fed up with paint by numbers "Indie" films chasing Hollywood's tail. Thus began Zero Film Festival!

Tell us about the process of starting up a film festival, what kind of hurdles and experiences did you have there?

In a way Zero Film Festival started itself. The initial conception was to organize the few stragglers around Los Angeles who made innovative and original films and who at the same time weren't oriented towards Hollywood. The need for a festival like ZFF was so strong that it spread like wildfire, and since the moment I said, "O.K., Zero is a festival, show me your films" the response has been so great, and we've received so much positive feedback, that we've been frantically evolving and expanding to meet the needs of our filmmakers.... Then the unsigned and indie label bands started contacting us...

What do you think of the festival circuit right now? What do you look to do the same and what do you look to do differently?

I met an old man with a beard from Austin who talked slowly about the early days of SXSW, when it was a group of friendly bands coming together to celebrate life. That sounded nice.

Zero Film Festival doesn't care about competing or integrating itself into the current festival circuit. Filmmakers looking for the Hollywood glitz and bright lights have other channels. We take an opposite approach to the mainstream festival circuit and are happy where we are. I guess it's secretly my dream to become the festival DIY filmmakers come to first, and after we've helped the world discover their talent, they can move onto the Toronto's and Rotterdam's or -hey, even Hollywood- we're here to help.

What can a filmmaker expect to get out of having their film screen at Zero Film Fest?

Besides the feeling of satisfaction of showing their film to a receptive audience? Besides the amazing after parties featuring some of Los Angeles' best independent bands? I guess it would circle back to the previous question.

When you're accepting films, what are you looking for?

We ask for each and every filmmaker to send us a letter to personalize the submission. And the letters we've received! Primarily we're looking for filmmakers who had an original vision and broke a lot of rules along the road to making it a reality. Obviously execution is also important. Surprise us.

Tell us about the future of indie film, where do you see things going?

Youtube. Netflix. The prohibitive cost barrier has been torn down. A lot of filmmakers talk about over saturation. Distribution just needs to catch up! As soon as art house cinemas can screen digitally at no cost, I see an explosion of originality. I see power being re-distributed from the traditional heavy hands into the hands of filmmakers and audiences. Cutting out the middle men. Zero Film Festival supports this.

What advice could you give to an up and coming filmmaker?

Make your film personal and keep your integrity. Throw out the Syd Field choke hold and re-invent your own language of cinema. As an art form the potential of communication is limitless, we've only scratched the surface.

What's next for Zero Film Fest?

We've got to keep some secrets. We're hosting launch parties once a month up to our festival. All of our energy is going into making December 1-6th the most fun and memorable it can be. As for the future... well, as I said, we've got to keep some secrets.

Where can people find out more about Zero Film Fest and how can they go about entering their film?

Check out our enigmatic website at, or our It's possible to enter your film into consideration through either channel or of course, the industry standard WAB, The more films we receive, the better our festival becomes.


Anonymous said...

great to read more about the festival, thanks!

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