INTERVIEW WITH… JORDON HODGES FROM RIVER BEND FILM FESTIVAL
The River Bend Film Festival has been running for 7 years so far, and happens across three days in April. It boasts a programmes for shorts, features, music videos, documentaries, and a script category too. The earlybird deadline is October 1st, with their regular falling on November 1st. There is a later deadline in December, but we hope that you’re learning that earlier is better (and cheaper!). Let’s hear more from Jordon Hodges, Director of Programming…
Tell us a bit about your job, and what you do…
I became the Director of Programming of the River Bend Film Festival this year; taking the honors from the noble Joe Haase, which is big shoes to fill. Right now I am watching many films, finding the ones that make me feel something. — The festival happens each April in downtown South Bend, Indiana which happens to be the area I am from. Though I have been living in Los Angeles for the past 5 years, I am really proud of where I came from and it is a privilege to take on such a position at RBFF which is a staple in the community I reign from. Naturally I have been attending the festival for quite a few years and gotten to know the team. In 2013 they hosted the Indiana premiere of the feature Sand Castles – I was the lead actor/writer/producer of and was shot on location in Northern Indiana and Southern Michigan in the Fall of 2012. It was a great success, a packed screening room of 300 with a wonderful Q&A; even legendary actor Clint Howard came from LA in support of the festival and Sand Castles.
The festival’s run for 7 years now, what’s the biggest change you’ve seen?
Before Director of Programming, I was the Creative Ambassador and before that a festival goer. The seed of that would one day be RBFF started about 12 years ago at Indiana University South Bend, where a group of film lovers started hosting screenings and having conversations. Years later that would be the River Bend Film Festival lead by Tim Richardson (President) and an extremely passionate team. Festival’s take a long time to develop and find it’s true voice and RBFF is on the cusp of being a premiere competitive festival for the Midwest. We have high standards and big dreams, we are on the rise. Each year our attendance grows, more filmmakers submit and we continue to get great guest and keynote speakers. The festival has also gotten more competitive and valuable for filmmakers and writers to win in multiple categories. We also have special awards; Hollywood Writer Stephen Susco (The Grudge, Grudge 2) gives out his own special ‘Susco Award’ each year.
Can you talk us through the selection process behind River Bend Film Festival?
We watch every single film, rating it in all categories. But at the end of day we ask… “Is this film entertaining and does it have something to say?” Our program is tight and the process is tough. It is quality over quantity. Being a filmmaker myself, I am looking for unique voices and the execution of it. So exciting when you find a film you love and you might not have ever gotten hear or see it otherwise. That is rewarding and special. — If I can give 2 tips for filmmakers: Have good sound and good actors… Supported by a good story of course.
What do you wish more filmmakers did, in any part of the process?
Research the festivals before you submit. Do not blind email programmers for a waiver on the submission fee. I attended Sundance and other festivals each year and if we personally invite you, then we will waive it. I understand you get through post and you have no money, I’ve been there. Open a credit card or mow some lawns. If you are asking a committee to sit down and spend time to carefully consider your film, then pay the submission fee. It isn’t about 10 or 20 bucks or whatever, it is the principal that if you want us to invest in you, then show us you’re serious and River Bend is worth it… I cannot speak for other programmers, but to me it looks very unprofessional.
Why should filmmakers submit to your festival?
Because we program potent films and a team that rocks. This year we made the decision not to play films against each other either, only one film will play at a time. Plus, we are in downtown South Bend, it is a amazing Midwest city… Not far from the beautiful University of Notre Dame campus. Go Irish!
What’s your advice to someone who gets a rejection from a festival?
I personally have been rejected more times than I can count… EVERY filmmaker has. What I have learned from being on both sides of the fence is this: Most the time it has nothing to do with your film. Now if your film isn’t great and you know it deep down, then you already know the answer. But if you know you have a good film, then it is just a matter of a limited programming schedule, local audience wants, or your story / feel is too close to another film we like have to make that hard decision of choosing one. — Do not take it personally. Every film gets rejected… and actually we need a better word than rejected, it is far too harsh…
Tell us the best and worst part of your job.
Worst: Letting a filmmaker who is either alumni, friend of the festival, etc. that we are not going to screen their film because of a variety of reasons.
Best: Having no expectations when you start to watch a film and it blows you away.
Thanks to Jordon for taking the time to tell us more about River Bend Film Festival. Do check out their website for more information and submissions details.
Actor Jordon Hodges, best-known for playing Noah Daly in the award-winning Sand Castles (2014), was born in Goshen, Indiana on March 2, 1987.
Jordon’s interest in acting came while studying Fine Arts at Indiana University of South Bend (IUSB). During his sophomore year he enrolled in ‘Acting I: Fundamentals of Acting’ as it was the only class that would fit his schedule to remain a full-time student and still receive financial aid. His first audition experience was a class requirement for a local play and with no training Hodges was cast. After the run of the play he dropped out of college to train as an actor in Chicago. He landed his first feature role in the indie college comedy Fraternity House (2008).
Hodges got more serious about acting in 2010 when he moved to Los Angeles. He quickly gained some attention for his versatility in two back-to-back leading roles inImpulse Black (2011) and the early 1900’s period feature Mary’s Buttons (2012), which landed him festival acclaim and his first actor nomination.
During 2011/12 Hodges was also assembling a team in Los Angeles while writing the screenplay for the future multiple award-winning Sand Castles (2014). It began filming on location where Jordon grew up in Northern Indiana during October 2012; with him in the lead role and producer.