On the eve of perhaps the most anticipated Fantastic Fest ever (and I’ve attended all four of them), Cinematical chats with Fantastic Fest director (and Alamo Drafthouse founder) Tim League. I’ve had the pleasure of watching the Alamo grow while I lived in Austin, and am happy to call Tim and his wife Karrie, friends. It’s been amazing to witness their ascension from young mom-and-pop theater owners to film-geek ambassadors for Austin to corners around the globe. As much as people like Richard Linklater helped make Austin a filmmaking town, Tim and Karrie have done as much (along with allies like Harry Knowles and Louis Black) to make Austin a film loving town. Here’s some of his chat with Kevin Kelly:
Cinematical: Do you get a lot of submissions from filmmakers now because it has become big, and, “We want you guys to consider this?”
Tim League: Yeah. There were well over 1,000 this year. That is shorts and features. There are probably more shorts that come in through submissions than features do. But yeah, it is growing. We actually have to manage that better this year, because Karrie and I were still the frontlines on most of it, which ended up just eating so much of our time over the months.
Cinematical: What is the next step? Fantastic Fest continues to grow, would you guys open this up and have buyers come out and that kind of thing?
Tim League: I don’t know. We definitely encourage buyers now. There are a few folks that come out. Weinstein, Magnet, Magnolia, and IFC are definitely coming out this year, and some video buyers are coming out like Starz, and Synapse, and things like that. I am cautious about growth. I don’t want it to get too big because part of the charm of the festival is, I think, a real community that surrounds it. And if you get too big you are going to lose that. So we have grown every year. What we usually do is at the end of each year is we assess and we see how we did, and we get a lot of feedback from the people that came and see if they enjoyed themselves. We play it year by year.