Film festivals are not easy to run. Their creation includes some educated guessing, some of it right, some not so right. And you know that cliche, it takes a village? It does. During the actual festival, your mind zeroes in on the minutiae, to the point that you feel like a one-person show. And when the last award goes out to the winner, and the curtain comes down, the sense of relief is palpable.
For 15 years, the writer of this article experienced those sensations as founder of the Atlantic City Cinefest. Year 16 is gathering steam. You think it gets easier with time. It doesn’t.
Bill Horin is in his sophomore year as the head of CUT International Short Film Festival, which he and David Todd McCarty founded last year. David is a consultant this year, leaving operations to Horin. That he made it to year two is a testament to his festival acumen. It’s carved out a niche as a home for all short films. Horin liked a lot of what he did right last year and changed a lot of what he didn’t. But there is a year two and that’s the key.
He hopes the changes make CUT an even better cut of festival.
The Dates: Horin discovered that the October date in 2022 conflicted with the Philadelphia Film Festival. “To grow we need to reach the Philadelphia market,“ Horin says. The Levoy also couldn’t spare an extra day the same weekend this year. “We knew we wanted to expand,” he says. And let’s face it, the weather tends to be better in September.
He relocated the date from the third weekend in October—one weekend after our 2022 festival—to the third week in September, September 22 and 23. With an extra night added in.
What Else is New? A program book, a necessary appendage to recitals—and yes, film festivals if for no other reason than it’s a souvenir—proof that you attended and you can always sift through the book and recall which films you liked best. The program book will also include a map highlighting places to eat and things to do in downtown Millville.
Submissions: Filmmakers from all over the world submitted films to the festival last year. A small percentage came from New Jersey and Horin hopes to change those numbers.
“We have reached out to regional high schools and colleges that have film departments to encourage students to enter. Last year we waited too long to do that. We are offering discounts and fee waivers for many New Jersey films as well. That should help,” Horin says.
This year, Horin will screen one of his own films: Showtime The Story of the Walter Webster and the Off Broad Street Players. The troupe is the closest thing to a local theater company.
“We also plan on using some of the short intermissions to show promotional spots for our sponsors,” Horin says.
About the Budget: “Considering it was our first year and there were a lot of start-up costs, I thought we might lose money, but we didn’t. We made a few thousand, most of which went into this year’s festival already so we can grow.”
The festival is non-profit, run through Horin’s Art C South Jersey Inc., where he serves as executive director.
Interested in submitting your film to CUT Film Festival? Visit FilmFreeway.com
Also, watch for another article to be published in SNJ Today closer to when the film festival runs in September. For tickets, visit njshorts.com
Year One Expectations
What surprised you about year one? “The response from the filmmakers and those who attended was amazing, even better than we expected,” Horin notes. “The quality of the entries was exceptional. Selecting winners was a surprising challenge. The support from the City of Millville helped a lot.”
What disappointed you? “I would like to have seen more city leaders in attendance, both government and business. I was also hoping for more media coverage. I’m working on that this year. Attendance was consistent but it could have been better,” Horin says.
21st Century Tech: CUT is also offering streaming for those who can’t make it to New Jersey. “It’s not the same as being there in person of course but it will give people everywhere the chance to experience it and maybe get to know the Levoy Theatre and the City of Millville. especially filmmakers from other parts of the country and the world,” Horin says.
Reviews of Year One
CUT got some positive reviews, always something to crow about. Two of them are published here.
“Good start for this little New Jersey Film Festival. Happy to be part of the inaugural event and I can see them growing even bigger moving forward!” —Lee Chambers, producer/director, Pilot Butte, SK, Canada, Winner Best Comedy 2022
“I’m so honored to have received the annual award for Best Actor from the CUT International Short Film Festival 2022. Many thanks to the jury, it’s the best recognition I could imagine to end this year. I’m really grateful to receive this award knowing there were 38 films, shorts and micro shorts in the same competition, with many others talented actors, some with a screen time over 20 minutes, against my 2 minutes & 35 seconds. Thanks again to the jury for awarding my performance in Lou, I can’t thank you enough for this real honor. This award will motivate and feed my work to push it further.” —Jimmy Condaminas, producer/director/actor, Paris, France, Winner Best Actor 2022