Two Fredericton filmmakers network at prestigious film festival.
Fredericton filmmakers Ryan O’Toole and Jillian Acreman recently returned from the 2015 Cannes Film Festival where their film Pop was screened as part of Telefilm Canada’s Not Short on Talent showcase – an impressive turn of events for a local film that first debuted last November during the Silver Wave Film Festival.
“The film was received quite well,” said O’Toole, who wrote and directed the film. “We only went to one of two screenings but no one booed or walked out, so I’d consider it a success!”
“I was holding my breath,” adds Acreman, the film’s producer (Columbus Avenue Pictures). “Truth be told, the Cannes audience is a deadpan audience, so it can be very difficult to gauge reactions until after the screening ends. I was very relieved to receive positive feedback from several viewers after the program.”
The trip marked O’Toole’s first time attending the Cannes Film Festival.
“It was great to watch an audience experience Pop on a big screen,” he said. “Lots of people have been watching it on a laptop lately, which is fine, but it does a lot better in a theatrical setting. One of the major perks of any film festival, which often gets overlooked, is that your work is displayed in the way it was meant to be seen. It seems that that happens less and less with cinema, which is a shame, because there’s a major difference.”
Acreman had attended the festival on two previous occasions but this trip was her first experience exploring the marketing side of the event.
“We learned quite a bit about the value of putting together a strong pitch, things you really need, and things that are often forgotten or lost in translation,” said Acreman. “Pitching has never been my strong suit, especially when it’s my own material. Talking about another person’s work always comes more naturally. Moving forward, I have a much stronger appreciation for the finer details that go into selling a project in a super limited amount of time.”
Working closely with a publicist provided by Telefilm Canada, O’Toole and Acreman were able to make several new industry contacts and gain valuable insight into the language of pitching and promoting their work.
“We noticed a great deal of emphasis placed on selling the filmmaker as much as the film, which I found very interesting,” said Acreman. “We tailored our pitches to that model, with me promoting Ryan as a director, and Ryan promoting the film. Giving each person involved a specific objective really changes the whole dynamic and organizes the flow of the conversation.”
While Acreman is about to begin work on her fifth short film, Marigolds, which features O’Toole in the lead role, the two will have to wait patiently to learn how the next chapter in the Pop story will play out. Regardless of the outcome, the experience has no doubt been an inspiring one and will certainly motive both artists well into the future.
“The best thing we can do as independent filmmakers is to stay current and be on everyone’s radar,” she said. “If we can meet and stay in touch with the people who can help elevate us professionally, that’s a valuable foot in the door.”