The New York Indie Theatre Film Festival (NYITFF) – now in its 4th season – is an event presented by The New Ohio Theatre in New York from February 6 to 9. The occasion is a gathering of filmmakers, actors, and other industry professionals who join together to present films, hold stage readings, panel discussions, , make connections, and more.
NYITFF is a unique event because it focuses on presenting films, web series, and digital content by artists who are otherwise predominantly known for their theatrical work. Both long and short films are welcome at the event, as are music videos. Marc Stuart Weitz, New Ohio’s ’s Producing Director and the producer of NYITFF, ensures that selections span a wide variety of genres, styles, themes, and moods, although horror and science fiction are especially popular this year.
One of the special events at the festival is the “6th Annual Film Race Screening,” run by an award-winning film and theater production company and multidisciplinary artistic collective known as F*It Club. For a fee of merely $20, anyone can enter a short film that was made during the 72-day submission timeline of the festival to compete for the grand prize. During a live NYITFF event, all will be screened and the audience will vote for the winner. Proceeds from the evening benefit F*It Club’s programming for 2020.
Recently, Marc Stuart Weitz, granted an exclusive interview where he discussed this event and more.
Meagan Meehan (MM): How did NYITFF come to be and how did it evolve over the years?
Marc Weitz (MW): I was literally walking down the street one day, thinking about all my friends in the downtown theatre community who have started to make films or web series, and I realized, “Hey, why don’t we have a festival where we can showcase all these theatre people making films!?” So that’s how it started. The first year, I just reached out to everyone I knew and friends of friends to see what they were working on. There was no open submission process because I didn’t know how this was going to turn out! Since then, we’ve started accepting submissions. We’ve also focused on creating spaces where content creators can gather together and network. And setting up industry panels where artists can learn about the business of making and selling digital content.
MM: Typically, how many movies, shows, and/or video media pieces are included in this festival and how many genres do they span?
MW: Each year we’ve featured somewhere between 30 and 40 pieces of content, spanning every genre you can think of. This year, the material seems to be darker than in the past. Fewer comedies, and more horror, thrillers, and romantic dramas. I think that probably reflects the times we’re in!
MM: What are some of the most memorable films you’ve seen at this event?
MW: I love all my children equally! Seriously, though, every one of the pieces is a labor of love, and it shows in the work. Rarely do people get paid a lot to make these works, and what the artists are able to accomplish on small budgets is truly amazing to me.
MM: Is there an award ceremony? What do winners receive?
MW: I know that awards are valuable to artists so they can build up their credentials but we haven’t had awards so far at the NYITFF, and I don’t think we will. It’s not our job at New Ohio Theatre to pass judgment. I really want to support the artists and get their work seen by more people. Sometimes our festival is the first time an artist has seen her work on a screen larger than a computer. And that’s a wonderful gift to give to an artist because you can see totally different things when it’s blown up to a big size.
MM: How do interested filmmakers go about submitting work to NYITFF and are any fees involved?
MW: We accept submission through FilmFreeway. This year’s deadline has passed, obviously. We’ll get next year’s festival set up sometime in the summer. There are fees involved, but they are very much in-line with typical festival submission fees.
MM: What are your ultimate goals for the evolution of NYITFF?
MW: Right now, we’re still a young festival. I’d like to get more sponsors and raise the visibility of this event. It’s a strange audience we’re looking for. Theatre audiences don’t necessarily come to see films; film audiences don’t necessarily care that a theatre person made one. But theatre artists bring a different approach to making digital media, and I want to support theatre artists in whatever they’re making. So, I really want to get the word out that something exciting is happening here.
MM: What can attendees expect from your forthcoming festival and is there anything else that you would like to mention?
MW: It’s going to be a lot of fun! There are lots of parties and networking opportunities. We’ve got our first-ever screenplay reading on opening night – with the cast featuring TV stars Annie Parisse (“The Following”) and Paul Sparks (Emmy nominee for “House of Cards”). And we’ve got our special closing night where we’re screening the feature film directorial debut of downtown legend Charles Busch. He’ll join us after for a talkback, so I’m really looking forward to that! I’ve been a fan of his work since I was a teenager. And there are panels and over 30 pieces of content. So, it’s going to be a weekend whirlwind of cinema!
This ultimate marriage of film, theatre, and social gatherings will be held at New Ohio Theatre (154 Christopher Street) in NYC’s West Village from February 6 to 9, 2020. Tickets range from $5 to $30 and can be purchased online at https://web.ovationtix.com/trs/pr/1004347 or by calling 866-811-4111.For more information, film descriptions, and tickets, visit http://newohiotheatre.org/nyitff