I Was a Screener for BIFF -
I Was a Screener for BIFF (Beloit International Film Festival)
If you see a film at Beloit International Film Festival that you especially like (or dislike) there’s a chance that I’m responsible. You see, I was a screener for BIFF.
Like many of you I’ve had a life-long love of movies. It doesn’t particularly matter what genre—sci fi, comedy, drama, documentary—I pretty much like them all. (Ok, maybe not “fight pictures”. I mean, I saw Raging Bull and could appreciate it as a great film but it didn’t make me appreciate boxing.) I even took some film courses in college.
Volunteering During Retirement
When I retired last year I intended to get more involved in community organizations and BIFF was on my list. I figured when the call went out for volunteers a few weeks before the festival, I’d sign up for some shifts at one or more of the venues. As it turned out, last spring I got an email from Becky Rogers, one of the BIFF head honchos, asking if I would consider becoming a board member. I was in deeper than I had planned.
BIFF’s board is definitely a working board. Every board member is expected to shoulder some of the responsibilities and everyone does. Around mid-summer I got an email from Executive Director Rod Beaudoin asking if I would want to review some of the films for the upcoming festival. There was no way I could say no.
700 Film Submissions to Review!
Screening films for BIFF is a monumental job. Film makers are desperate to get their work shown to an audience and film festivals are one of the best ways to do that. And it seems they all know about BIFF. There were more than 700 submissions for the 2015 festival and each of them had to be reviewed for consideration.
BIFF uses two main websites for accepting submissions, Film Freeway and Without a Box. Film makers register with the sites, indicate which festivals they wish to submit to and either upload the film or include a link to another site such as Vimeo where the film can be screened.
BIFF screeners such as myself would get emails from either Rod Beaudoin or BIFF Creative Director Greg Gerard with the links to the films they wanted us to review. We were to give the film a rating from 1 to 5 (with 5 being highest) along with a short summary of our feelings about each one. (Intermediate ratings such as 3.5 or 4.2 were allowed.)
10 years of BIFF = Best Selection Ever!
Over the course of about 4 to 6 weeks I screened at least 50 films, sometimes as many as three in one day. Quite often a film would be reviewed by more than one screener and the ratings averaged together. Rod and Greg have final say on what films get in BIFF but they came to trust my judgment enough that if I gave a film a low rating it simply didn’t make it.
(One film was bad enough to get a 1 and it was truly one of the worst movies I’ve ever seen.)
Overall the quality of the submissions were very high, but only 2 out of every 7 submissions would ultimately be chosen, so Rod and Greg had their work cut out for them. This is the 10th year for BIFF and I’ve been in the audience every year. Having seen many of the films for BIFF 2015, I can honestly say that this is the best selection ever.