On July 12, ShortsTV announced its partnership with Rock the Shorts, a festival of short films dedicated to showcasing talent from across a wide range of genres including animation, documentary, drama, comedy, thrillers and horror. This will be second such festival—which is gearing up to be an annual event—which will air on the ShortsTV channel on July 22, July 29 and August 5 at 7pm PT/10pm ET. Winners will be announced at a later date.
Rock the Shorts Founder and Festival Director Roxanne Marciniak is very excited about the festival and the organization’s partnership with ShortsTV. She recently discussed the event via an exclusive interview.
Meagan Meehan (MM): How did you initially get interested in short films?
Roxanne Marciniak (RM): I guess I started as a frustrated writer. I wanted to finally see one of my scripts make it to the screen, so I made it happen by writing, directing and producing several short films. After making my second short film “Non-Emergency” I was hooked. I had developed a great appreciation for the work and talent that goes into short filmmaking.
MM: How did the partnership with ShortsTV come about this year?
RM: In October of 2020, I signed with ShortsTV to have my third short film “The Three Bobs” air on their channel. It was then that my wheels were turning about the pandemic and how to keep Rock the Shorts alive. Since both Rock the Shorts and ShortsTV support short films, I thought that it was the perfect fit to air the festival on their channel. They said yes to the idea, and the partnership was born. We’re all thrilled to be working together to bring the festival to the ShortsTV channel this year.
MM: How did you establish this festival and select the films in it?
RM: I was inspired to establish Rock the Shorts based on my love for short films and experience as a filmmaker. As far as selecting the films, I watch every film at least twice in the beginning stages of judging. Then my team watches every film and they make notes. If we feel a film is an “award winner,” we will all make that note. Not everyone agrees, but there are many cases where we have all marked the same film as an award winner. This year was a little different because I knew the selections would be broadcast on ShortsTV. There was one film that was well made but it had teenagers playing Russian Roulette. I couldn’t accept it. With the pandemic and the emotional climate of the past year, I didn’t feel right about putting the film on TV.
MM: There are three different blocks of films, so are they categorized by theme or genre in any way?
RM: Each film block is a great mix of genres. The film block order is very important to me personally. I say this because I’m also a filmmaker who’s been to many film festivals, and I know that there are some bumpy film blocks. The worst was when my romantic comedy played immediately after a gruesome fatal car crash scene. It took me three minutes into my own film to get the last shot of the previous film out of my head. I thought to myself, ‘I will never do that to a filmmaker.’ We want it to be a smooth, emotional, yet pleasant experience. In the beginning Josef (Josef Csongei, Co-Festival Director) and I thought about having an all comedy block, but then we thought about the dramas and documentaries on our schedule, and it just didn’t feel right. We didn’t want people needing antidepressants after a drama block. This is when it got more challenging but very interesting. We mixed genres – including animation – but in a very thoughtful way. We might start with a drama, then go to an upbeat documentary, then to a thriller and so on. I personally pay attention to the tone of each film, how one ends and another begins. This year, ShortsTV chose the order of films, and they nailed it. There is something for everyone for three consecutive Thursdays.
MM: What can we expect from the selected shorts this particular year?
RM: This year we were blown away by the talent. We received films that were made in Sweden, Taiwan, Switzerland, Italy, Iran and France. It’s wonderful to see and experience what filmmakers around the world are making. We also love to support our local indie filmmakers. We are not short on talent.
MM: What is some of the best feedback you’ve gotten about this festival?
RM: Sending out the “not selected” letters is always tough. I know because I’ve been on the receiving end. I wanted to make these letters supportive and acknowledge the hard work that goes into making each short film. I received an email from a filmmaker thanking me for the letter and how much she appreciated how positive it was despite not being selected. I also received several emails from filmmakers that attended our first year, and it was great to hear how supported they felt.
MM: Prizes are being offered to the filmmakers, so what are the categories and how are the winners selected?
RM: When it comes to the winners, I rewatch all of the films my team and I chose as “award worthy.” There will be a vote if it’s too close to decide. The categories are Best Animated Short, Best Thriller Short, Best International Short, Best Drama Short, Best Documentary Short, Best Comedy Short and Best of the Fest. All winners receive certificates, and the “Best of the Fest” additionally receives an engraved acrylic trophy and the potential for distribution on ShortsTV.
MM: What other initiatives or projects are you working on right now?
RM: Presently, I’m working on a web series based on one of my short films. A forty-something Catholic girl with abandonment issues and a bitter mother tries to find love in L.A. How hard could it be?
MM: What are your ultimate goals for the future of Rock the Shorts and is there anything else that you would like to mention?
RM: Our goal for the film festival is to be an Academy-Qualifying festival. We’re still a young film festival but are moving forward trying to meet the necessary qualifications. We’d also love to honor someone like Vin Diesel who made his own break by making his short film “Multi-Facial.” He wrote, directed and starred in the film. Then, CUT TO, Steven Spielberg saw it and cast him in “Saving Private Ryan.” Everybody loves an underdog and a happy ending. There are many great success stories that began with a short film. Another great one is Wes Anderson’s “Bottle Rocket” starring Owen and Luke Wilson. It would be a dream to honor them as well.
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Rock the Shorts Website: https://www.rocktheshortsfilmfestival.com/
Rock the Shorts Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/shortsonly/
Rock the Shorts Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/rocktheshortsfilmfest/