1995 was a wonderful year. The San Francisco 49ers kicked the year off by winning the Super Bowl, my beloved UCLA Bruins basketball team won the NCAA National Championship, and stamps cost only thirty-two cents. Another memorable event from ’95 was the birth of the Temecula Valley International Film and Music Festival. That’s right, Temecula. Now in its 17th year, Temecula is a diamond in the rough that independent filmmakers should most definitely experience at least once.
I must tell you I have attended 14 of the 17 Temecula Valley Independent Film Festival’s; have had films play as a filmmaker and or producer, and served on the jury and various panels. Thus, I love this festival because it has provided me with countless memories, lifelong friendships and vital industry contacts. So, without further ado, here are five reasons why you should treat The Temecula Valley International Film and Music Festival (www.tviff.com) as a “can’t-miss” film festival.
Filmmakers, Not Actors, Are The Stars Of The Festival
Temecula’s founder and festival director Jo Moulton was at the Cannes Film Festival years ago watching the world’s brightest stars walk up the red carpet at the 2,300 seat Grand Theatre Lumiere on the way to their premiere, when she came up with the idea that her festival in would make filmmakers, not actors, the “stars.” Thus, filmmakers are treated like royalty in Temecula. Not only is there a red carpet for opening night, but also the festival is cultivated to support independent filmmakers. Furthermore, the festival staff has absolutely no attitude, and they are accessible and proactive about helping filmmakers enjoy their time at the festival.
Residents Of Temecula Are Primarily Conservative
Don’t cringe. This is a good thing, especially if you’re a filmmaker whose looking to test how your film will do with the average American audience. Not to say that Temecula residents are “average.” Actually, they’re quite educated and affluent. But, the people of Temecula are conservative, so their reaction to your film is a great indicator of how audiences will react throughout the United States.
One major truth most filmmakers fail to believe is that most audiences are generally conservative. Thus, a great way to see how your film plays to most of the country is to try to get it screened at the Temecula Valley International Film and Music Festival. While you may not like the results of what audiences think of your film, having this information is priceless when it comes to finding ways to sell your film. Remember, knowledge is power and Temecula’s structure instills filmmakers with all the power they need to market their independent film to moviegoers.
Location! Location! Location!
Temecula is about 90 miles southeast of Los Angeles and 60 miles northeast of San Diego. Since the festival takes place over five days in September every year (this year’s event ran from September 14-18), the weather is usually postcard-perfect, with warm sunny days and a cool breeze at night. Additionally, should you come out for the festival to screen your film, you can either spend one day taking meetings about your film in Los Angeles, or you can try to entice buyers and distributors to make the drive down to Temecula for your screening. While the latter is doubtful, due to horrendous Southern California traffic, it is, like all things, possible.
The other draw to Temecula is its thriving wine country, as they are in infused with numerous wineries. Thus, you may be able to convince people to trek out to watch your film, drink some good wine and enjoy the delicious climate.
The Music Element Is Fantastic
Ever since Temecula expanded to include a music festival ten years ago, I have had the pleasure to catch some amazing moments. From watching Ray Charles accept a Lifetime Achievement Award, to witnessing Etta James belt out an emotionally charged version of “At Last,” Temecula never had a shortage of musical talent. So, whether you want to “listen to the music” for your own enjoyment, or for your next project, Temecula serves up some amazing tunes just waiting to be heard.
The Panels & Showcases Are Priceless To Independent Filmmakers
Every year, the Temecula Valley Independent Film and Music Festival produces some pretty cool panel discussions and showcase screenings. The problem is, these gems are often times overlooked, because the festival itself is not on everyone’s “must-attend” hit list. For example, this past Saturday, September 17, director Oren Peli discussed his experience with making Paranormal Activity (2009). As we all know, his $15,000 indie went on to earn more than $190 million worldwide. Surely, a conversation with Oren Peli would benefit all independent filmmakers.
Additionally, classic filmmaker Peter Bogdanovich held a screening of his film, At Long Last Love (1975), at which he held a discussion about his work. Such an opportunity is expected at Sundance, Cannes and Berlin, but Temecula has constantly delivered similarly amazing opportunities for filmmakers.
Side Note: Peter Bogdanovich was also an honoree of the 2011 Temecula Valley International Film and Music Festival.
While I can’t promise Temecula will change your life, I can promise that it’ll change your view about how regional festivals can factor into the equation how your film finds distribution. Temecula is also a really damn fun event to soak up, and lets be honest, the “fun” factor is a major reason that any of us attend any festival.
Thanks again for lending me your eyes and I look forward to borrowing them again next week! Like always, you can follow me on Twitter at @Lonelyseal.