So you wanna build a filmfest? FunMill Films kicks off inaugural event Feb. 16

FunMill Films inaugural event kicks off Feb. 16
Not too long ago, filmmaker Kinsley Funari reached out to get my perspective on an idea she and her collaborator, Josh Miller, had. Could they launch a new filmfest in Cleveland and tie a film competition to it? She wondered if I had any experience in that arena and, either way, did I think the effort was worth the work it would take to get such an endeavor off the ground.

I had neither the experience and, truth told, I thought the work it might take - from finding a venue and vendors to unknotting the legalities of the competition - was probably just too frustrating.

I didn’t tell her that, of course. Because what do I know? So I wished Kinsley and Josh luck and figured I probably wouldn’t hear about the filmfest anytime soon.

Instead, we’re only a handful of days away from the inaugural FunMill Films Fest & Competition. The show opens Sunday, February 16, at 2 p.m. at Atlas Cinemas Lakeshore 7, Euclid, Ohio, and runs until 10 p.m. 

I sat down (virtually) with Kinsley and Josh to learn a bit more.

Filmmakers - and film fest organizers - Josh Miller and Kinsley Funari
MMM: Tell me all about the festival. What does everyone need to know?

KINSLEY: The festival is our version of a "mini-convention" for the Cleveland filmmaking community. We will be screening short films and trailers as well as showcasing sponsors and vendor tables. We have also designed our own competition. Those films will be screened and judged at the event where they have a chance to win awards and cash prizes.

MMM:  Why did you decide to launch this new festival?

KINSLEY: We were trying to think of an innovative way to crowdfund a feature film we'd like to produce, but we didn't want to just ask people to hand us money. We wanted to make sure whatever people were paying for they were also investing in their own art as well - so this was the solution.

JOSH:  It's a way to give this community another platform and opportunity to network. We want to bring a new kind of competition to Cleveland because we feel that there are so many talented artists in this city that deserve to have a chance to be seen.

MMM: How are you measuring success? What's your goal? What do you hope to achieve?

KINSLEY: Honestly, we're already so stoked that our competition is full with competitors and we're nearly full with film submissions [at the time of this interview]. I just want people to attend and have a blast. If we make enough money to produce our film, that would be the ultimate icing on the cake. My very optimistic goal would be that people like this enough to encourage us to make this an annual event.

JOSH: This event is a success. We set out to have a competition. That competition is full. As long as everyone involved sees what this really stands for - and why its actually for THEM -  that's all I want is for everyone to see that we are in this together.

MMM: Was it daunting getting a new festival up and running?

KINSLEY: Not really. This has just been so much fun for us. I think the hardest part is just spreading the word and making sure everyone knows about it.

JOSH: Personally I was more stressed over the fact that this is something we are doing for the first time. It was either going to work or fail. As soon as I started to see the response we were getting, I was so humbled. After that I'd say we just have been enjoying the ride.

MMM: I know you had a little bit of an issue with promotion socially. Were you able to overcome that?

KINSLEY: That was terrifying. Someone reported our event for some reason or another - who knows - but Facebook was actually able to fix the problem and verify us as legit in under a week so we're very lucky this didn't tank us.

JOSH: No matter where you go or what you do if you are doing something, and doing it successfully, there will always be people who will try to bring you down. We knew that going in. When it happened it was more of an "Okay, so now what steps do we take to fix it." If you are an artist you have to be prepared to deal with people like that. The people who stepped up, and stood for us really opened my eyes with the compassion we received.

MMM: Final thoughts?

KINSLEY: We hope everyone comes out to check out some awesome films and have some fun with us!

JOSH: See you at FunMill Film Fest and Competition!


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