INTERVIEW WITH… JASON CONNELL OF UNITED FILM FESTIVALS
We’re always excited to deal with festivals that have several screening locations, and by that we mean different towns, cities, countries – a tour if you will. Since we came across United Film Festival many years ago this festival has spread to six cities, meaning there’s a chance for repeat screenings for your submission. They have a rolling submission throughout the year, and it’s FREE! So do check them out. They’re just gearing up for the Los Angeles edition which kicks off September 5th-11th. Let’s talk to Jason, the man behind this bunch of festivals.
Tell us a bit about your job, and what you do…
I’m Jason Connell, founder of the United Film Festival. That was 12 years ago in Tulsa, Oklahoma where I’m from. We then expanded to the other 5 cities (Los Angeles, London, San Francisco, New York, Chicago) and in the last 4 years expanded our company with a distribution division, and other offerings.
What’s the United Film Festival manifesto that you like to promote, what’s your ethos?
The United Film Festival manifesto is “Promoting Independent films to a larger audience,” and that’s how we base every decision we make. We’re a filmmaker’s film festival, made by filmmakers for filmmakers and film buffs alike.
You cover six different locations, one of which being London. How important was it to choose the areas you have?
The festival started in Tulsa, since that’s where I’m from, but it was expanded to Los Angeles when I moved here and the other 4 cities were picked as they are larger cities with lots of culture for the independent films we screen.
You went from having set deadlines and submission fees, to a rolling deadline and making it free. How did this come about?
We wanted to review more content and without a submission fee we could do that which allows us to raise the bar on the caliber of our film festival (and review more films for distribution opportunities.)
With more and more festivals appearing everywhere, what’s the one thing you wished more festivals did?
What’s your advice to someone who gets a rejection from a festival?
Being a filmmaker myself, I understand it, but you can’t take it personal. Every festival has own criteria and if you search hard enough, there’s usually a film festival who will embrace your film.
Tell us the best and worst part of your job.
The worst part of the job is rejecting filmmakers (we’re a filmmaker friendly festival.) However since we moved to free submissions, it certainly softens the blow to filmmakers since there’s no financial loss. The best part of the job is great high-caliber filmmakers in an early stage and presenting awards to the filmmakers. It honestly fees just as good to give them as it does to receiving them.
Share with us one of your favourite films and tell us why you like it…
Going Dark: The Final Days of Film Projection is a great short film that truly shows the change from film to digital projection in a very interesting way.
Thank you to Jason for taking time to speak to us, do check out United Film Festival for more submission information and upcoming screenings.
Jason Connell is the president and founder of Connell Creations, a Los Angeles based film and television production company since 2004. The company was formed in Connell’s hometown of Tulsa, Oklahoma in 1999 where the focus was on creating short films, commercials and corporate videos. Connell is also the founder and director of the United Film Festivals which started in Tulsa in 2002 and then spread to Los Angeles & New York in 2007 and next to San Francisco, Chicago & London in 2009. The festivals have a rich tradition of screening exceptional independent films and have gained a respectable reputation in only a few years time. Connell’s distribution division, the appropriately named United Films, has grown rapidly and now represents an impressive and constantly expanding library of independent films.