Preparation is well underway for this year’s ReelGood Film Festival and we’re marking off the days like a film leader countdown.
Taking some time out of his immensely busy schedule, the event’s director, John Roebuck, took some time to answer STACK‘s reeling questions about this unique film festival.
How does ReelGood differ from other film festivals?
The real difference between ReelGood and other film festivals is the structure of our screenings. Instead of showing a long string of short films, one after the other, we play 20 or so minutes of shorts on the hour, every hour. In the breaks, there’s food, drinks and music. I don’t think that there’s anything wrong necessarily with the long-session form of short film screening, but it isn’t perfect, and it doesn’t have to be the only way of approaching a short film festival. A lot of RGFF audience members have told us that shorter sessions mean they are more likely to concentrate on each film. Ten or so short films in a row can be draining.
ReelGood has been advertised as an appealing option for the folks who get bored at long festivals – what is it that keeps people engaged during ReelGood?
With our structure the way it is, socialising has grown to be a huge part of RGFF. You could come along and not watch a single movie and still have a great time, although obviously you’d be missing out on some really great stuff. We want fun to be an integral element of the festival, and we want to aim our attention at it as much as possible without taking away from the main focus of RGFF, which is the showcasing and appreciation of top-notch local films. RGFF feels like a social gathering that’s punctuated with films. If you’re getting sick of the people you’re talking to, you can go watch some films. If you want another drink, the film sessions only go for 20 or so minutes.
What types of films will be shown at ReelGood?
[This year] we have the most diverse line-up we’ve ever had. Our target audience is people who enjoy getting out and about and experiencing quality stuff in whatever form it might take. We have a zombie film and we also have a serious relationship drama. The method is variety.
You’ve said that this film festival removes “the barrier between the film, the filmmaker, the festival and the audience” – how does it achieve that?
RGFF is an extension of the website ReelGood.com.au and one of the principle aims of the site is to support local filmmakers. Filmmaking can be a tough and extraordinarily discouraging pursuit. We want Australian, and particularly Melburnian, filmmakers to feel that they have ReelGood backing them. We want filmmakers to collaborate with us and tell us what they want or need out of a film site and a film event. The best way for ReelGood and the festival to evolve is with the filmmakers.
We encourage the filmmakers to come along to RGFF, and mostly they do. We encourage them to talk to the audience members and vice versa, and we try to make a point of highlighting the people who made the films. Without wanting to sound too negative about other film festivals, especially since there are many great ones, festivals can be more about the festival than the filmmaker. That’s appropriate sometimes. With RGFF it’s not.
Why is it important to you to showcase Australian films?
One reason is that there is a negative stigma surrounding the Australian film industry, which is baseless because there is a wealth of quality Australian films out there, contemporary and otherwise. Another reason is that the filmmakers who have films being showcased in RGFF are independent filmmakers, a lot of them up-and-comers, and all very talented. It’s essential that these people have platforms to exhibit their work.
What is it about the short film medium that speaks to you?
RGFF is predominantly a short film festival because a lot of independent filmmakers are restricted to short filmmaking. Filmmaking can be a cripplingly expensive art form, so when you’re just starting out, it might be that you can only make short films. We’re there to support promising filmmakers. That’s why it’s short films, although we are playing a feature on opening night, EMO The Musical – which was a huge hit at MIFF recently – followed by a Q&A with its makers, and we’re very excited to be doing so.
Do you find it constrictive holding the main festival over the course of just one day?
Not so far. It would be nice, perhaps in the future, to hold the festival over both a Saturday and Sunday, but if we started thinking about extending it more than that it would probably offset our structure, and diminish what it is that makes RGFF so great. You can have too much of a good thing.
One way in which we would love to expand is by shutting down Rupert Street (the street that Schoolhouse Studios is on) and have screenings in the cafes, bars [and other venues] that are close by, and line the street with food trucks and whatever other good things we can think of. It’d be a neat way of broadening the festival without losing the core architecture.
Come be a part of this unique film festival on the following days and buy your tickets here;
March 3rd @ 7pm
March 4th @ 9:30am – 11:30pm