It's one of those moment every screenwriter waits for: my phone rang. A number from the 310 area code. A producer who had read one of our scripts, Girl in Trunk, and wanted to talk about an option.
After we talked business, I had to know: how did the script reach him? This is how: Miv Evans.
Evans is a businesswoman from the UK who settled in Los Angeles in 2005. Now she is a freelance entertainment journalist and writes film reviews for four outlets, starting with Century City News in 2009, and now including Yahoo! She is a member of the Motion Pictures Association of America and has sold her own work to BBC TV and REN Media International, Beverly Hills.
Most importantly for indie filmmakers, she is the founder of the Trailer Film Festival. The audience for the Trailer Film Festival is exclusively industry. The fest books a venue and shows over two dozen selected trailers once a year to producers, distributors, and managers. Scripts are also accepted.
The first two events were attended by executives from Paramount, Fox, Disney, PBS and many other high profile companies. But the festival screening itself is only a part of what what the festival does.
All the trailers that are accepted are uploaded into an Online Screening Room and for a year after the event executives from production, management and distribution companies login to take a look. They then request DVDs and scripts for trailers that they like.
The festival now has a database of over 700 industry professionals, which include Universal, Warner Bros, HBO, ABC and Lionsgate.
What is unique to this festival is that they let filmmakers know as soon as there is any interest in their project. That's where my phone call came from: a producer had let Evans know what he was looking for, she sent him our script, and within days I got the call.
I asked Miv for an interview so that more filmmakers can learn about her great fest.
Q: Why is this festival needed?
Miv: Filmmakers spend thousands of dollars on entry fees and, even if they are successful, they still haven't sold their film -so what's the point? People in the film industry don't have time to sit for days to watch films, but they can find time to log into a screening room.
Q: This festival is mostly about trailers. But you also take scripts. How do writers fit in to this model?
Miv: Most festivals are about awards, and getting their crew members and families to buy tickets to see their finished work on screen. We are entirely focused on sales and distribution, which is what we believe is the real goal and what can launch filmmakers' careers.
We decided to take scripts without trailers as they can be included in the screening room in their own category and are of interest to the same industry members who look at the trailers with scripts behind them. We have had success with getting the industry on board because they can view work without worrying about the 'unsolicited' aspect, which is prevalent throughout Hollywood. They know they're not going to get sued for downloading a script off the Trailer Festival website, but legally can't take scripts direct, which is why it's impossible for unrepresented writers to get their screenplays read.
Q: You have very particular tastes as a reviewer -- in fact, it seems you don't like anything.
Miv: Recently, I gave a positive review to Magic Mike and raved about Searching for Sugar Man and Marley. I can't remember all my past reviews but the films I respond to are the ones that entertain me, or draw me in. There are a few foreign films that did this. I think the last American film I liked was Margin Call. It was low budget.