We first spotted Festival Sayulita when it launched last year, and it seemed to be the kind of festival that merged everything you like about a music festival as well as the community spirit of a film festival. This year they’re back and we can safely say it’ll be bigger. A line-up that boasts music, food, beer, film, tequila, and surf – we knew we just needed to speak to one of the five founders, Storm Richardson, to find out more. Regular deadline to submit is 1st November and can be done through FilmFreeway.

Tell us a bit about your job, and what you do…

Well I wear a lot of hats, as do all of the organizers of the festival. But my primary job is handling the submissions with our partner Risa Mara. Film is just one aspect of our entire festival, along with Music, Spirits and Surf, so there are a lot of moving parts and a lot of different things to do. Imagine putting on a film festival, then adding one of the largest pro-longboard competitions in Latin America, and then throwing a huge concert, all while bringing in amazing spirits from all over Mexico to lubricate the entire weekend. It’s a ton of work, and we are very lucky to have all the support that we have.

Reading about Festival Sayulita we get a real sense that it’s more about the communal experience rather than just watching films as an audience member. What do you think makes the festival stand out from others?

Being that it’s not solely a film festival broadens our audience, and can actually bring people in to so a film festival, when maybe normally they wouldn’t. I think this festival stands out from others for that reason, as well as being an incredible community effort to build a new cultural center for our little town. What also amazes me every day is that in this tiny town in the middle of nowhere, there is this deep, deep pool of talent and creativity, and we get to harness that to create and amazing event.

This will be your second year; what’s stayed, what’s changed?

Year 2 is seeing a bigger push on the surf and music fronts. Our Logfest surf competition is going to be the largest longboard competition in Latin America, with a $10,000 US purse. Our music day, which will be an outdoor festival setting on an amazing piece of land donated by the Rodriguez family, is going to showcase 8-10 bands, with some amazing bands headlining. And just by it being our second year, more filmmakers are interested in the festival. Our first year we had such amazing directors, DP’s, etc. attend, and they’ve gone home and become great ambassadors for our festival.

What do you look for in a film when you’re in the selection process?

Production quality is important to us, I would say that’s a pretty big one. Also, being in Mexico we love seeing spanish speaking films, or at least subbed titles, but we don’t require it because our community is an international one. We’re also interested in subject matter of course. Films that carry a story that’s relevant to our community I think resonates more with us.

What’s your advice to someone who gets a rejection from a festival?

I would tell them obviously not to be discouraged. Sometimes a film can be great, but it just doesn’t fit for our programming.

Tell us the best and worst part of your job.

The worst part of my job is easily the rejections. It sucks to tell someone that their film didn’t make the cut. Regardless of the quality, plot, material whatever, these filmmakers put a lot of work into their projects, and it’s too bad we can’t just take every film. The flip side is notifying entrants that we want their film is pretty gratifying.

Share with us one of your favourite films and tell us why you like it…

We have not finalized our selection yet, but we have pre-selected some amazing films for 2015. Out of the films we’ve already approved, I would have to say my favorite is Valley Uprising.  It’s an incredible story about the history and evolution of rock climbing in Yosemite Valley in California. It was really well made and the personalities that are involved in this story make it an incredible film to watch.

Thank you so much to Storm for taking time out to talk to us about Festival Sayulita. Remember the regular deadline is 1st November. Happy submitting!

Storm’s bio:

Storm Richardson lives in Sayulita full time with his wife Courtney. Transplanted to Sayulita from Costa Rica 5 years ago, Storm & Courtney opened the Sayulita Public House a couple of years ago and Storm has been trying desperately to improve the quality of beer served in Sayulita ever since.

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