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I Create Birmingham: Chloe Cook & Josh Vasa

“Our organization’s commitment to downtown Birmingham and the theatre district has been in place since day one and we’re so happy that our annual event in the district has inspired people to believe in the viability of area.”

Name: Chloe Cook & Josh Vasa
Occupation: Executive Director / Operations & Production Manager at Sidewalk Film Festival
Creative Industry: Film & Media

 

1. Festival ticket sales are a very small part of your operating funds. How can people help support you additionally? How can people support you outside of the Festival Season?
Sidewalk is a federally recognized 501c3 non-profit organization and though we work VERY hard to earn a significant percentage of our income (approximately 70% is earned through ticket sales and corporate marketing sponsorships) we also depend on grants, donations from individuals and fundraising events like the upcoming Salsa Showdown. We’d love to have all of your readers join us for the Showdown, Saturday, May 28 at Avondale Brewing Co. It’s a fun event with salsas, queso dips, guacamoles, live music, a kids zone, and of course Avondale beers. Tickets are only $10 in advance and they’re on sale now at www.sidewalkfest.com

 

2. This is Sidewalks 18th year. What can festival goers look forward to? What’s new in 2016?
We’re super excited to have the newly restored Lyric Theatre among our list of screening venues this year & feel certain our audiences are going to enjoy the addition. We’re also working on some really cool Virtual Reality offerings for this year’s Fest that I think the community will be excited to learn more about.

 

3. What are some big highlights from the past 18 years?
Tough question! It’s hard for me to narrow it down but here goes- in many ways, the fact that the Festival got off the ground in 1998/1999 is pretty amazing. Our three founders, Kelli McCall Franklin, Wayne Franklin and Erik Jambor were really visionary and they rallied an incredible group of supporters early, many of which are still involved all these years later, like our current board president, Michele Forman. Our organization’s commitment to downtown Birmingham and the theatre district has been in place since day one and we’re so happy that our annual event in the district has inspired people to believe in the viability of area. We’ve screened too many incredible films to list them all here & entertained some of the best & brightest independent filmmakers, both traditions we intend to continue for a long time. Lastly, over the past several years we’ve received national/international recognition from a variety of media outlets (something for the whole city to be proud of)- Top 25 Coolest Film Festivals in the World- Moviemaker magazine (2015, 2014), and Top 10 Places for a Fabulous Film Festival- USA Today (2013) to name a few.

 

4. The Scramble Filmmaking Competition just ended. What was different this go-around?
Scramble is one of our many educational offerings- to put it simply, a Scramble asks filmmakers to conceptualize & create a short film, start to finish, in 48 hours. And we mix it up by providing different parameters each time. The results are always really interesting and impressive.

 

5. You work with a lot of filmmakers in the community. What programs/services (current and hypothetical) could they benefit from? What sort of offerings currently exist that filmmakers can benefit from? What do you wish existed?
We currently offer monthly networking and educational programs for filmmakers (Sidewalk Salons), quarterly hands-on learning opportunities (Technology & Technique Workshops), an annual short filmmaking competition (Sidewalk Scramble), and an annual high school film education program (the Sidewalk Youth Board).
We would love to expand our educational offerings and filmmaker resources – just a few of our ideas and hopes for the future – monthly Technology & Technique Workshops, a writer’s workshop/screenwriting lab, after school programs for school age youth, and a Birmingham Metro Area Film Office, to name a few.

 

Tickets for the 2016 Sidewalk Film Festival go on sale May 1st. For more information visit www.sidewalkfest.com.