ATM: How does your film festival bring a film purpose for exhibition, exploration, and a creative nature?
TB: This is a great question. I would love to answer this question. What is cool about our film festival are the creators happen to be filmmakers themselves. I am a filmmaker and as is co-founder Tomik Mansoori. Theo Dumont has been in the festival game for 15 years with his film festival Hollyshorts and Alexandra Chando, our festival manager, is also a great actress. She has starred on her own television series for several years and she is now directing. I would like to think about this as a film festival by filmmakers for filmmakers. All of us understand the plight of making a film, being in a film, and how much a festival can pivot your movie for the better.
We have all been in the business for years and gone through the festival circuits. I have been competing in festivals for the last decade. I wanted to cherry-pick a few things I learned from those festivals and apply them to MammothFF to make it different but familiar.
ATM: All films start in the film festival phase. This is whether it picks up distribution and goes to the Oscars or just remain an indie film. They all start here. It is more like an NFL draft pick. The distributors are the recruiters. There is a misconception to some people in the nonentertainment that think a film just magically appears at the theatres, on the television, and streaming platforms.
TB: This is a great way to look at it. This is another thing we like to think about too. The first world premiere that we ever showcased at this film festival starred Sophie Turner, of Game of Thrones. This was an indie film and for this to be our first thing out of the shoot, the bar was immediately raised very high and set a tone for what we set out to accomplish. If you get accepted into this film festival, you also have a chance for distribution, that’s something we’ll continue to build on. The idea of, you can be bought and sold at the Mammoth Film Festival. This is our purpose. A poor analogy if you will -If you are here, it’s like being an athlete well on their way to being chosen into the NFL draft. You are going to play for the Dallas Cowboys or the Kansas City Chiefs, ha.
ATM: What characteristics do you feel this film festival give off that is like its animalistic title?
TB: This is such a lovely question and a fun one to answer. I am a Texan at heart, and I was born in Texas. I live in LA now. There is a saying in Texas “Everything is bigger in Texas.” With a name like ours, everything is bigger in Mammoth. Our huge world premieres with huge talent and mega movie stars like Zac Efron, Jennifer Morrison, Xzibit, Josh Duhamel, and Lamourne Morris. All of these stars walk the streets of Mammoth Lakes, California during the festival. They’re eating where you’re eating and skiing where you’re skiing. We go big with events. We have an 80s Ski Lodge party that is going to be an absolute blast. We have a celebrity charity bowling tournament. We have an exhibition hall called MammothCON, which is going to grow into its own convention. All of this was established in our first year. We were called the biggest first-year festival ever organized. If that’s is not mammoth, I don’t know what is, (laughs).
ATM: How do the definitions of togetherness and mentorship infuse themselves into the festival’s mission statement?
TB: This is a great question too. It takes some film festivals years and years to develop interactive film discussions. The togetherness of the people who speak on our panels offers a huge amount of mentorship. The interaction we can have with people who sign up for our panels, they get direct access to talk to these producers of who’s representation precedes them.
ATM: How does working in the business side of the film and performance side bounce off each other?
TB: I started off just doing acting and filmmaking. Now, I am doing 1 or 2 projects as an actor a year. 1 or 2 projects as a filmmaker a year. To go in having the business side, you really appreciate each other’s job. Building a festival is like doing ten movies at the same time. There are so many moving parts.
ATM: How does the area’s weather climate impact the ways a person might perceive the festival?
TB: Well, we have been compared to Sundance in only our 2nd year due to the landscape of Mammoth Lakes, California. It is a beautiful ski resort town and a wonderful place to house a film festival. They are calling it “California’s Underground Sundance” already. It is kind of unfair for us because Sundance has been going on for almost 30 years. We are only a 2nd-year film festival. My goal is by 2022 to be in the top 25 film festivals in the world. With the number of movies, we are able to world premiere and screen with the caliber of our talent. We are well on our way. The snow and the landscape here are what makes our film festival special. Thank you, Town of Mammoth Lakes.
ATM: I would also assume Texas has taught you some things. There are life traits. How do your Texas roots spread throughout your job in carrying out of the responsibilities?
TB: I had a great mentor Suzanne Weinert. She is also the president of the Austin Film Society. She is a great Texan producer. She really took me under her wing. Me being from Texas, I spend a lot of time doing movies in Austin, Texas. I got to compete in SXSW a couple of times. The comradery that the Austin film circuit has, trained me to carry on with that comradery we built with Mammoth Film Festival.
ATM: Every state as a slogan they go by. For example Virginia is the state for Lovers. Texas is the state for Friendship. How has friendships and partnerships helped you?
TB: They are everything. Tomik Mansoori is not only one my best friends but also my business partner in this whole thing. He and I have gone through hell and high water every day as the co-founders of this film festival. We have people with us like Theo Dumont, Alexandra Chando, Nicole Castro and Dylan Efron. If we were not close friends, then I do not think we could bear the difficulties there are to put this festival on.
ATM: How does going through the process if it being hell and high water metaphorically do you all make the waters become calm like the Mammoth Lakes in California? How do you make it ease and stay calm?
TB: All of us throw the pattern away and throw our egos away. There is no handbook on how to make a successful festival. We do not know really what our festival is going to be until submissions come in. We have made sure we never lose control of the boat on the open water. We take it one day at a time. We have really ambitious goals for this festival. We depend on each other and take a lot of deep breaths. There’s’ only 5 of us. We know that at the end of the day what we are doing and the organization we formed is doing great things for some many people. But we’re happy to be creating what I’ve heard called, “secret star studded, underground film festival that only the who’s who know about.” (laughs).