Susan Johnston and the New Media Film Festival 2011
"This film festival is for Artists, Filmmakers, Producers, Directors, Above and
Below the line Crews, Thought Makers, & Implementers that brings stories
worth telling to life."
Susan Johnston is a spirited and passionate woman who has worked in Hollywood long enough to
know that the only thing you can expect from the business is that it is always changing. Which is one of
the reasons why she came up with the idea for a film festival in Hollywood that focuses specifically on
New Media. Of course, there is a good deal of discussion surrounding what constitutes the term "New
Media," but Susan is less interested in academic wrangling than in creating an event that will not only
bring people together and "provide opportunities for filmmakers," but will showcase work that is not
often found (if at all) in traditional film festivals. Some of the new media categories include:
• Digital Comics
• Mobile Phone Media
• SRC – Socially Responsible Content
• 3D Shorts
• 3D Features
• Web Series
• Shot on Red (Short Films & Feature-length)
• LGBT content
All in all, there are 16 separate New Media categories at the 2011 New Media Festival. A full list is
available at the Festival website.
Susan Johnston, founder of the New Media Film Festival
I was fortunate to spend an hour with Susan via Skype recently and she told me that she founded the
New Media Festival in 2010 after re-locating from New England, where she achieved significant results
in establishing the professional film infra-structure for the state of Rhode Island. Working in Los
Angeles, she "delved into International co-producing, talent producing, directing TV Development and
collaborating on innovative projects with her Award winning production company, Select Services
Films, Inc." In other words, she's been incredibly busy and has been involved in practically every
aspect of Hollywood filmmaking. She brings a lot to the table in founding the New Media Festival.
Her energy and experience are stamped all over the planning, screening and presenting of this unusual
The 2011 New Media Film Festival will take place on May 20 & 21st this year at the Los Angeles Film
School, Hollywood, CA. The Friday, opening-night films will have a 3D focus this year and will
feature the Los Angeles premiere of Bill Plympton's "Guard Dog Global Jam," along with several
other interesting films like "The Physics of Surfing 3D" by Greg Passmore and fascinating 3D/color
conversion of Harold Lloyd's classic silent "Saftey Last" (this I gotta see).
Saturday, May 21st will be an all-day affair with panels such as "Webseries SuperStar Creators" (which
will also feature the panelists works, film screenings, Q&A with filmmakers and producers, more
screenings, and a sweet "Rock N Roll Photography Exhibit" by photographer Jim Steinfeldt). At the end of
the day, there will be a big awards presentation where the Grand Prize winner and the winners of each
New Media category will be announced by some pretty cool folks (Sally Kirkland, Erin Gray and John
Saxon, for example). For a full schedule of the day's events, be sure to check the New Media website and blog. I plan on covering the event for Renderosity.com and should have an article and lots of
media after the Festival closes.
A New Media panel from 2010
There are some great prizes from top-level sponsors like Dolby, Sony Digital Cinema and the
International 3D Society, including use of professional production facilities, software, free training and
a lot more. If you are considering submitting something for the New Media Film Festival, there is a fee, but
it's very reasonable (and varies depending upon the category, plus it's lower for students). Check out the
FAQ at the New Media Film Festival 2011 website. Another neat aspect of the festival is that there is no
deadline for submission. Well, for all intents and purposes, I wouldn't submit during the awards
ceremony. Your main submission mechanism is via the New Media Fest website and it's very easy.
Check it out.
Susan Johnston with actor John Saxon
Getting back to Susan again, I spoke with her for about an hour and she told me about her goals for
the festival, how she came to team up with her partners, Noel Lawrence (Director of Programming)
and David Kleiler (Artistic Director), along with anecdotes about the festival and how they determine
which films will be screened. As I said, she's got lots of energy and has a great attitude about the
festival, and working in Hollywood in general: "it's a big sandbox and there's plenty of room for
everyone to play." I'm also impressed with her insistence that "story" be at the center of the festival. In
fact, it's part of the festival's motto: "honoring stories worth telling."
A conversation with Susan Johnston
I've condensed my conversation with Susan to about 15 minutes, but I think you'll find it enjoyable.
You can also check out the Facebook page and the blog for the New Media Film Festival for more pix of
Susan and updated info. Background information on the Team that runs the festival is here. And, if you
are planning on attending the event in Los Angeles, tickets for the two-day event are reasonably-priced
($75 for both days) and available through the website and, I assume, at the door.
My thanks to Susan for taking the time out of her busy schedule to talk with me.
Ricky Grove [Ricky Grove], Staff Columnist with the Renderosity Front Page News. Ricky Grove is a bookstore clerk at the best bookstore in Los Angeles, the Iliad Bookshop. He's also an actor and machinima filmmaker. He lives with author, Lisa Morton, and three very individual cats. Ricky is into Hong Kong films, FPS shooters, experimental anything and reading, reading, reading. You can catch his blog here.