I had the absolute pleasure of interviewing multi-award winning editor, and the Founder of NoHo CineFest, Gustavo Sampaio.
Gustavo got his first break in television as an associate producer for ESPN. With his sheer will compelling him to achieve greater, he began teaching himself the illustrious craft of video editing and moved to California for an opportunity to produce live broadcasts internationally on FOX Sports.
After hundreds of successful shows on FOX, Gustavo joined CBS for an opportunity to combine his passion for storytelling with his innate talent as an editor and has won multiple awards for his exemplary work in investigative news and special reports. In a highly competitive industry, Gustavo has been a sought after figure in post-production working with Entertainment Tonight and The Insider daily shows and premiere events like the Oscars and Golden Globes. He was also hired by Facebook to edit the now famous ‘Community Voices’ campaign that has generated millions of views worldwide.
Rachel Dares: Tell us how the festival started and why you chose North Hollywood to launch your festival?
Gustavo Sampaio: It was 2013 and I had attended a number of festivals in Los Angeles in recent years with a few short films I made. The experience, unfortunately, had been underwhelming for the most part. With only one or two exceptions, most of the festivals had poor communication and the events did not bring much excitement.
I had already been living in North Hollywood for a few years and the Laemmle NoHo 7 Theater was brand new. It was clear that a lot was changing in the NoHo Arts District, with new restaurants and bars and new apartment buildings going up. I felt that it was a perfect opportunity to birth my dream and it was then that my wife and I kicked off our first film festival event in 2014.
It turned out North Hollywood was a great place to launch it. Aside from the new theater, the whole area is well known for being the home of many artists, as well as, production and post-production companies. It has a metro stop and a variety of places for nearby food. I believe the location has definitely played a part in our success.
Rachel Dares: What were some challenges you encountered in the beginning?
Gustavo Sampaio: In the beginning, the biggest challenge was to get people to know who you are and what you’re about. So, it was hard to get people to submit films to our event and to also get crowds to attend. We held a 4-day event and I guess we did relatively well for being a then 1-year festival.
Other challenges were in getting the community to know us. It was difficult to secure any sponsors the first year, so financially, it was pretty tough for us. But, we had made just enough in ticket sales to ease the pressure that year so it gave us fuel to keep going.
Rachel Dares: What’s your vision for the festival in the next few years?
Gustavo Sampaio: My first goal is to make us an Academy Qualified film festival. After seven years in existence, festivals can apply to the Motion Picture Academy, and if approved, the Academy will make it an official qualified event, which means that the short film that wins “Best Short Film” will be considered for the following years Academy Awards (Oscars). Academy Qualification will certainly make us a global focus in the festival world and will likely increase our film submissions dramatically.
After that, we hope to make North Hollywood a focus as a community for filmmakers and turn it into a festival that also offers business opportunities by offering a pitching forum as well as a market.
And finally, we hope we can become strong enough to bring significant influence and impact to causes that help people in need in many areas. It would bring true meaning to the event.
Rachel Dares: What criteria do you go by in accepting films for the festival?
Gustavo Sampaio: The bottom line is that we’re looking for good films. Story and performance are at the number 1 position for consideration. We’ve seen many perfectly polished and beautifully shot films that had a weak story or performance by the cast and we had to reject them. Conversely, we’ve accepted films that didn’t have a high level of production value but was incredibly entertaining. Although these days, the quality of films are so high that everything looks amazing. We accept all genres so we’re a very diverse festival. Especially now, that we’ve grown to a nine day event.
Rachel Dares: What tips would you give filmmakers to get their films accepted?
Gustavo Sampaio: Aside from the obvious, which is make a good film, I would say to make sure that you have all your required elements looking professional on the submission platform. That means, make sure the synopsis of your film is well written and brings an element of curiosity. Include a professional looking poster and offer some behind the scenes photos, as well as, some still images of key moments of the film. And the most important one of all, write a personal cover letter. Don’t make it something generic and cold. Make it directly related to that particular festival. It makes a big difference to the people reviewing your work and can give you an advantage. This essentially shows the festival that you’re passionate and that you care about the success of your film.
Rachel Dares: For those interested in submitting their film, how are they able to contact you?
Gustavo Sampaio: For all submissions, please log on to our website at: www.nohocinefest.com