Cindy Mich is the founder of “Art is Alive” Film Festival. She is a writer and director, radio host, model, entrepreneur and teacher.
Question: Why did you get into doing film, and what is your background as a filmmaker?
Cindy Mich: Years ago, I started interviewing indie film directors and a few of them encouraged me to transition from writing for multiple mediums to include writing projects for myself that could be seen. I was being tutored by one of the best in the industry, and he helped walk me through the process in many ways. I actually ended up having a few health issues, and I watched a movie that influenced me into believing that if you heal the mind, the body follows. Hence, the decision to write a film that could help me heal. I went on to write three more, and am finally getting around to filming them!
Question: Tell us about your film festival?
Cindy Mich: My intent with this festival is simple: bring art alive again. I spent a span of two years covering film festivals as a member of the media, I began to discover that the main motivation for many of these events was not the movies. Because I am a leader and not one who lags, I took it upon myself to produce a platform whereby art would once again come alive. Less celebrity and red carpets; more about honouring the czars of independent cinema. Give filmmakers and fans a chance to mesh and make dreams happen. Show worthy work by astounding artisans. Lastly, help them to create more film through offering them more exposure and other essentials.
Question: What value does you film festival bring to the independent filmmaking community?
Cindy Mich: I have been told by attendees that my festival does the following:
actors, directors, writers and producers networking, and some are now even
creating new films together.
- Brings them
more attention via my film reviews and my radio show.
- Gives them
a larger audience by which to have their work seen by the community.
- Judging is
impartial so they know that winners were not picked due to any personal bias. I
as founder do not judge any film where I am familiar with or are friends with
- It puts the
big push on the art within cinema versus celebrities and red carpets. The value
stays with the work.
Question: How does an indie filmmaker distribute his/her film?
Cindy Mich: If you have the backing, it is best to go right to a guaranteed distribution via payment. The one that I find most popular is Distribber. Otherwise, doing the film festival circuit for a year, and choosing to attend those that solicit distribution company attendance. Further, you can hire an agent who can specifically work to solidify a distribution deal for you.
Question: At what period in the filmmaking process does an indie filmmaker need to start planning for distribution?
Cindy Mich: Honestly, I began looking at distribution option months before I began filming. If you are approaching straight distribution companies, do your homework well in advance so you can have the proper funds if there are fees involved. If you are looking at distribution in mass markets such as airlines, applications, and the like, they typically can take months to make a decision. Hence, if you are approaching them before your camera rolls, you have less worries as to missing deadlines or being delayed for distribution due to decision making.
Question: Indie filmmaking is a model based on zero-budgeting or small budgets. How do I get my film in theatres with such a budget?
Cindy Mich: In my experience, I have found that the franchise theatre chains gravitate to showing big budget films because they include celebrities so they know they shall draw a large audience. However, you will find in each state, they do have smaller independent type theatres that want to provide out of the norm screenings to get the community into their chairs. Sometimes, if you agree to do a week-long run, they will work with you in terms of budget. You need to target locations that are newly open, needing exposure, or those that are under- utilized.
Question: How can filmmakers finance their projects?
Cindy Mich: I actually conduct a panel on this type of topic. There is the traditional fundraising campaigns and private donations. There is product placement, creative contests and giveaways, and also certain banks that can offer a credit line for a filmmaker. You can also make sure to work out an immense amount of bartering or trade for services so as to keep it almost dirt cheap to create. Finally, offer them a point percentage of the film’s revenue or a producer title in exchange for financial backing.
Question: What films have been acquired or distributed after being at your film festival?
Cindy Mich: Numerous ones!
Question: Talk to us about your planning your film festival?
Cindy Mich: Typically, I start taking submissions about six months before the actual festival. I usually rotate judges, so I start hunting for them about two months in. I begin seeking sponsors at around the third month or so, as well as volunteers and media. Once we are about two months away or so, I keep promoting it on social media weekly. I also then write press releases and distribute them to get more attention. The two weeks before the festival is a mad house. Printing passes, burning films, gathering materials, arranging Q and A’s, as well as everything else! The first year, I basically had one volunteer, and last year we had four. I am hoping to get eight for this year’s event.
Question: Describe your future plans for your film festival?
Cindy Mich: Each year, we are adding new elements. This year, we are doing a special screening of a Frank Vincent film, and will do so for the next five years. I am doing a tribute to another Hollywood actor who has earned a lifetime achievement award. I eventually wish to add vendors, more panels, a few celebrity events, and also add more days and other artisans outside of just film.
Question: Tell us about what you think indie filmmaker needs in today’s world?
Cindy Mich: Lots of patience and persistence. It takes a good deal of time to get noticed. You must be creative and out of the box in terms of thinking, as people notice films that are not the norm. Do not be afraid to take chances by screening in locations outside of a traditional theatre. Also, in 2018, we have tons of new resources to distribute films, so get educated on these entities.
Question: Briefly write about your career?
Cindy Mich: I began writing at the age of 8, and won my first award at the age of 15. I have published three books, written for multiple mediums, and authored four films and three plays. I also created a nurses manual and assisted in a filmmaking manual. I was approached about 8 years ago about doing an internet based radio show, and now I am the host of two programs that together hold an audience of 90,000 listeners. I founded Art is Alive Film Festival three years ago, and in 2019, will be the founder of CIN TV – an independent TV network for showcasing all indie projects.
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