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Patric Morgan


I am a freelance writer from the UK. I specialise in celebrity interviews and autobiography/biography. I speak to those at the top of their game. I found out what they have done, how they did it, and why they did it. www.patricmorgan.com
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Looking Good in Shorts – an Interview with LA Comedy Shorts Film Festival Director Jeannie Roshar.

“Comedy saves lives.”

If there was ever the need to exercise the chuckle muscles, The L.A. Comedy Shorts Film Festival is the shot in the arm that the movie industry needs. The festival is the largest comedy film festival in the USA. It is dedicated to introducing the newest and hottest comedic talent to the audience and industry in a four-day, fun-packed weekend of screenings, parties, industry panels, and a star-studded red carpet awards event. Moviemaker even named it one of 2009’s best 25 film festivals.

“Well, they say laughter is the best medicine.” says Festival Director, Jeannie Roshar. “With everything that’s going on with American Healthcare right now, we figure we are saving lives here! On a more serious note, comedy in Hollywood is very viable commercially, yet it never seems to win the big awards. We don’t like that.”

So back in 2008, Jeannie, her husband Ryan Higman, and their best friend Gary Anthony Williams decided to do something about it.

“Gary and I are also filmmakers, so when we decided to start a festival of our own, we basically created the exact festival that we wished existed. We had been taking our film around to a number of festivals, and so we kept everything we liked and improved what we didn’t like. One fest we really loved was San Diego Film Festival. They really treat the filmmakers right! They were a big influence for us.” recalls Jeannie.

But as with most things, cash is king. And 2008 was not a good year for finance.

“We started our festival in a recession. Obviously, it is extremely hard to get sponsorship right now, yet it is vital to our success. Our challenge always is how to put on a Dom Perignon event on a Pabst Blue Ribbon budget.”

The success of the festival is no small accident either.

“Running a festival becomes almost a 24/7 job as the date draws near, so I think partnering with my husband (Ryan) and our best friend (Gary) has only been a benefit. I think if my spouse was not involved with the festival, he might definitely resent the amount of energy and attention it takes. The only downfall is you do end up working all the time because we’ll try to take a break and go to dinner, but we’ll still end up talking about the festival!”

“Promoting the festival is a two-prong effort. First, we promote for entries to filmmakers and writers. We advertise mainly online with services such as Withoutabox and Moviebytes as well as Moviemaker magazine. Then we have the job to fill the seats at the festival. To do that, we hire the Carol Marshall PR firm. They also work with the Santa Barbara Film Festival and others. We’ve gotten great media coverage both years I think because what we do is unique. But, don’t think it’s all glitz and glamour. Gary and I pounded the pavement of Downtown Los Angeles handing out postcards too!”

Putting the festival idea into practice proved a real learning curve:
“When we started, we first went to Gary’s friends to get the big names to attend. Gary really is a great guy, and from my experience most people that know him are willing to do just about anything for him. Then we had The Onion and Funny or Die come on as sponsors which also helped. This year, we had big names that we don’t have personal connections to reach out to us because they wanted to be involved, which was great!”

But are festivals just a good excuse to down a few drinks and give each other slap on the back?

“Not at all.” says Jeannie. “Our festival benefits the movie and TV industry because we work directly with them; hooking up writers and filmmakers to the people looking for projects to develop. We get requests from all the top companies to see our films and scripts. They don’t have time to weed through thousands to find the good stuff. We’ve all done that for them.” beams Jeannie.

“This year we programmed everything from family-friendly animation, to comedy horror, to character driven subtle comedies, to raunchy just-plain-wrong comedy. But, all were laugh out loud funny.”

For more information on this year’s winner, pictures and videos, go to www.lacomedyshorts.com

 

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