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Changes in the wind for FilmOut San Diego

SAN DIEGO – Basking in the glow of a mega-successful 15th annual LGBT Film Festival, the FilmOut team has tweaked its future plans to take advantage of the growing library of quality movies that appeal to the community. This will mean more LGBT movies year-round.

The FilmOut board of directors held its annual meeting Monday night, elected board members and officers, reviewed the past year and looked forward to the new year ahead.

The 16th annual LGBT Film Festival is tentatively scheduled to run from May 30, 2014 through June 1, 2014. The Opening Night film and after-party will be on a Friday night, followed by two full days and nights of movies. The Closing Night party will be on a Sunday night, as usual.

Fans of FilmOut will note that the festival will now take place over three days instead of five, making the festival even more competitive for filmmakers who submit movies for consideration. Last year, more than 265 movies competed for the 35 open slots, and the programming team led by Michael McQuiggan said that a number of excellent films didn’t make the cut-off. Because of that, FilmOut now plans to shift gears on the monthly screenings to showcase contemporary movies in addition to the classics that audiences clamor to see. FilmOut also decided to expand the number of movie marathons, always held on a Saturday.

"We decided to be more strategic in terms of the titles at the festival, so we are streamlining the 2014 lineup into a three-day film festival," said McQuiggan, FilmOut's longtime programming director. "The reason being is that having films on Wednesday and Thursday limited people because of the work week, and frankly people were missing out on some great films.

"So now we have a more compact 'best of the best' 25-film series for the actual 16th anniversary film festival. However, this may change year to year, depending on supply and demand; which will lead up to our 20th anniversary which, of course, will be a massive blowout festival."

McQuiggan explained the new mission of the eight monthly screenings.

"The goal is to make four of the eight monthly screenings new LGBT films to keep the best of new LGBT releases alive throughout the year," he said. "This will kick off with the July 20 San Diego premiere of 'Petunia' and the short film 'Remember To Breath,' and then to use the remaining four monthly screenings like we have in the past. I can announce that a few of these titles will be 'The Ritz,' '9 to 5' and 'All About Eve.'"

The movie marathons are being tweaked, too.

"Our next marathons will be in October: Thrill-O-Rama 2 (thrillers for the Halloween audience); and February: Marilyn Monroe-A-Thon. And at some point we have been discussing the possibility of a Best of the 1980s Teen Angst Comedy Marathon, Monty Python Marathon and a Marathon of 'The Godfather' Trilogy. These will run on a Saturday and will include four to six films," McQuiggan said.

FilmOut fans will end up as the benefactor of more movies, especially current ones.

"This will benefit FilmOut because we will continue to bring the best possible LGBT films to San Diego throughout the year in addition to offering the best in genre cinema that is sorely lacking in San Diego. Not to mention that it builds our FilmOut brand and keeps bringing people to North Park to visit the Birch North Park Theatre and to visit all the restaurants and shops that make this a popular neighborhood located in the heart of the city," McQuiggan said.

Elections and duties assigned

At the annual meeting, directors and staff reviewed the past year. Highlights:

• New branding effort gave a unified look from the FilmOut website to public relations.

• First-ever use of billboards elevated public awareness of FilmOut and the LGBT Film Festival.

• Beefed-up Social Media presence on YouTube, Facebook and Twitter paid dividends by bring attention to FilmOut events.

• Noticed an uptick in the younger demographic, an organizational goal to broaden the FilmOut audience.

• Saw a big uptick in visitors from Los Angeles and Palm Springs, possibly because FilmOut scored a number of West Coast premieres before film festivals in Los Angeles and San Francisco.

• Daily coverage on SDGLN during the month leading up to the festival helped build anticipation and sell advance tickets.

• Festival ticket pre-sales exploded and total admission sales more than doubled over 2012.

Bob Bouchard, Rick Goldenstein, David Gonzalez, Jeff Howell, David Swietlik and Ken Williams were re-elected to the board of directors.

Goldenstein was re-elected president of the board of directors, Bouchard was elected treasurer and Swietlik was elected secretary. Howell was named Associate Programming Director, Gonzalez was picked as Social Media and Promotions Director, and Williams was selected as Film & Media Relations Director.

Longtime staff members McQuiggan (programming director) and Kaleb James (festival director) will retain their positions with FilmOut.

Goldenstein said FilmOut continues to encourage applications for board membership, and there is room for up to five more directors.

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