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Shelia: But it works the other way too. Someone called me and said I have this film, would you take a look at it, and she told me who it was about, and I said, well, if it’s a film that’s going to be selling someone or a product, we don’t do it. And I’m glad I said that, because that’s exactly what it was. And I had to tell her it’s not a film we can show, across the board, technically it was good, but it’s not a Sedona film. So we have a lot of local people with connections, there’s a film school here, and sometimes the films are awful. And having to say to your family and friends it’s just not going to work for us, to say No… poor Debbie has to do it all the time.
How did this year’s cash prizes come about?
Connie: In a series of conversations with Patrick and a couple of the other people who had been donors, some for a very long time and some less so, that we really wanted to be on a par with some of the festivals that did encourage more and better submissions, and also to make an incentive for filmmakers and hopefully increase the number and type of submissions we get. And it just really sort of happened, one particular person was the incentor, and others were the incentees, and it just happened in the space of about four minutes. We were convinced it would make our festival even better. And part of it was our enormous trust and faith in, and affection for Patrick, and how very, very important he is to this festival. I can’t begin to tell you how much. He is the festival’s heart and soul. It’s such a happy place, when you walk into the office it’s a happy experience. People like the Weinsteins love him, and send us films like Transamerica and Mrs. Henderson Presents. This is an important thing for our city. It makes an enormous financial contribution, now at five days. That’s why it happened so quickly; it just seemed like the right thing to do at the time. We’re hoping this year to be able to quantify for the city what the economic impact of the festival is.
Patrick: We’re going to track where festival attendees are coming from, how they heard about us, is this their first time in Sedona, are they planning on coming back. We’ve found in the past that people come to the Festival, and make this their trip to Sedona.
Debbie: People call us four days after the Festival to ask us what are the dates for next year, so they can schedule their timeshare around it.
Patrick: Nick Nolte came here in June, and it’s a really good case study in how this festival is different. He came to us as a surprise, as a gift from somebody, because we treated her daughter so well when she had a film in the festival last year. And she wanted to repay the festival for kicking off her daughter’s career. She knew Nick, and behind our back said, would you do me a favor and come up for this screening?
Shelia:: He stayed until 11 p.m., shot a commercial for us.
The Sedona International Film Festival & Workshop takes place Feb. 28-March 4. For tickets and updates, see www.sedonafilmfestival.org.