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Film Festival Today's Interview With Guy Magar

FFT: What made Action/Cut Filmmaking Seminars decide to do 
a short film competition?

Magar: The Action/Cut Short Film Competition was launched in 2004 due to the
many requests from filmmakers and graduates from our Action/Cut Seminars. 
They kept asking what to do with their short films as there are few fests/competitions 
devoted to short films, and most of those do not have substantial prize packages to help 
the winning filmmakers move forward with their careers...which should be the whole point 
of winning awards and prizes at fests. 

We started the Action/Cut Filmmaking Seminars five years ago, and it grew to become the most
acclaimed 2-day seminar on filmmaking in the industry...we have given over 60 events in over 
15 major film cities and internationally from Canada to Malaysia. 

Since we are an educational service for filmmakers and screenwriters, we decided to change the 
short film contest landscape and create the most important and career-changing competition in the world.

We stress the importance of making shorts at the seminars, especially with the recent availability
of digital cameras and home editing systems, and the importance of getting recognition/awards/prizes
at film festivals and contests to launch film careers. 

Since Action/Cut is an industry-driven company, it became a natural extension to launch this annual
competition to not only discover the next great filmmakers from around the world, but to open Hollywood
career access doors for the winners and truly enable them to move forward which is what every filmmaker
hopes for when they win a competition...but no others do what we do or can provide film industry access,
and over 125 cash and industry awards valued at $50, promote the films by streaming them
online for the world to see!

FFT: You've been doing one of the top filmmaking seminars for years now,
what have you learned from doing it?

As challenging as it is to do 12 seminar events per year across the country and juggle those 
events with my own directing work schedule and writing assignments, it has been a personal joy to meet 
so many filmmakers and screenwriters all over the USA and Canada. What I learned confirmed the reason 
I started the Action/Cut Seminars...which was to provide in 2-days, intensive filmmaking knowledge at a 
pro industry level. 

After I graduated from 2 top film schools, when I started my professional career, I realized 
what I was missing and desperately wish I had but is not available in film academia institutions...and that is 
to spend just 2-days with an industry director/writer willing to open his/her intimate work process and share 
actual scenes' progression step-by-step and shot-by-shot...allowing participants to read the actual scenes, 
discuss how to shoot them within a tight schedule, work out a shooting plan, and then executing it by seeing 
the actual dailies of those scenes and then seeing the finished work. 

This is what I was never taught because it can only happen with a working director/writer with 
accessibility to these learning tools which is what Action/Cut is all about...from page to film. I learned that everyone who takes Action/Cut greatly appreciates this pro workshop and leaves with a new methodology 
about how to translate any scene to the screen with the best possible approach. Screenwriters race home 
to rewrite their work after they learn how to write "visually". We have received thousands of thank you 
letters and testimonials, of which many are on our site, for the unique filmmaking knowledge they learned 
at the seminar. That has been the most gratifying as I know how difficult it is to get started and pierce 
through the closed doors of the industry.


FFT: What makes your competition different from the rest?

Magar: First, we are not a festival. There are hundreds of those and we didn't need one more. So we decided to make it a unique, industry-driven competition...there is no other that we know of anywhere. Our judging panels are all working filmmakers, screenwriters, agents, executives, Hollywood as we wanted a competition that would be strictly based not on hype or public screenings but on truly discovering the next generation of great filmmakers and rewarding them with more prizes than any other festival or contest including networking career access meetings. Then, since we do not have public screenings, we decided to promote the winning filmmakers by streaming their work on the internet for all to see. The exposure we provide our winning films is like no other in the world. Only an industry-oriented competition could do this for filmmakers and this is why it is so unique and different from any others.

FFT: Have any of your students made a short film based on the knowledge gained at your Action/Cut Seminars?

Magar: Many have, and not only shorts, but feature-length films. The 2004 Action/Cut Best Fiction Winner is an A/C Graduate and so was one of the 2004 Semi-Finalists.  We have heard from many graduates thanking us for setting this competition up and many are planning to enter it with their shorts which they made since taking the seminar. At our very first seminar, a participant expressed how intimidated he was about directing and wished he could understand the process as he had a burning idea to make his first feature. Well, within a few short months after experiencing Action/Cut, he directed his dream feature project. His feature went on to win more than 20 awards around the world! He sent us a thank you which we list on our home web page with a list of most of his awards as it was too long to list them all!

FFT: You are offering some unique prizes, how did you come up with them?

Magar: We wanted to do something different and special for the winners: the one Grand Prize Winner and five First Place/Best Winners in each of the five categories. We organized an overwhelming amount of prizes because we felt that if industry judges chose them as most deserving then we wished to do all we could to shower them with career-changing awards. We came up with a combination of prizes which include Cash Prizes from Action/Cut, numerous Networking Career Access Meetings Prizes comprising of actual meetings/conferences with Hollywood players, and Sponsor Prizes from industry companies designed to empower these filmmakers to further develop their careers...over 125 prizes valued at $50,000!

The list is long but includes for example meetings with industry directors, writers, agents, award-winning designers and cinematographers, distribution deal offers, producers' reps, exposure at certain festivals and streaming on our website to promote the winning films, filmmaking software products, and industry press releases that will make available private screenings of these winners to Hollywood folks. Our Call For Entries begins every year on January 15th and deadlines on May 15th and entry forms are available on our website. We look forward to a great annual competition in providing this unique short film contest to worldwide filmmakers.

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