I hope you have as much fun watching our videos at the 2016 Bentonville Film Festival (BFF) as we had attending / working at the fest.
GS (1/2 of Grace Squared)
Disclaimer: Opinions are my own and not the views of my employer (or past employers or future employers)
What is BFF?
The Bentonville Film Festival’s mission is to provide a commercial platform for female and diverse voices. It’s the only festival that I know of that guarantees distribution to the winners on all platforms – theatrical (through AMC), digital and television (through ARC, Anchorbay/Starz, TV1, or Lifetime), and home video (through BFF’s founding sponsor Walmart and the other sponsors previously mentioned). It was co-founded last year by Academy Award Winner Geena Davis and Hollywood Exec Trevor Drinkwater.
Why is it in Bentonville, Arkansas?
We work most of the year out of Los Angeles but last month was my first time visiting Arkansas in my life! Geena Davis explains on Jimmie Kimmel:
BFF offers tons of awesome educational panels.
For example: “In Control Of Her Own Destiny. Friday, May 6, 11:30am, Crystal Bridges Museum. Moderator Alex Cohen (NPR); Panelists: Geena Davis, Kimberly Paisley, Nia Vardalos, and Meg Ryan. For an industry that offers so few opportunities for women and minorities, increasing numbers of talented women are pushing back by taking control of their own interests rather than depending on the powerful commercial studios. This panel will feature celebrities who have taken control of their destiny by starting their own production companies and making their own films.”
There are a lot more panels, but I had to mention this one. Being a female and minority and coming from a middle-low income immigrant family with no family connections in the entertainment industry, it’s been a bit challenging to obtain acting and directing roles. So I decided to attend law school and obtained production certifications in order to produce my own work. I am thankful to also be working for a company that helps others like me in the industry! #ILoveBFF
Who/What is Grace Squared?
Grace Chong (GC) heads Finance and Grace Santos (GS) heads Business & Legal Affairs. Together we are GRACE SQUARED. GC: “We’re both Asian and have a selfie stick” 🙂
We visited Jared (who is BFF’s Volunteer Coordinator), introduced a few films, and walked around downtown:
How we negotiated our terms with a television executive to get a tv show for us:
Brian was supposed to be our Crystal Bridges Museum tour guide:
GC explained to Brian and I what NWA means and it is not with attitude:
And of course we had to visit Walmart, BFF’s founding sponsor:
I’m trying to work on last minute contracts for the fest but GC and her snapchat:
We don’t just have videos, we also took lots of photos!
Lots of great places to shop in Arkansas too (according to GC, she’s the fashionista and shopper of this duo and I just follow around with a cam):
We met Joey Lawrence (“whoa!”), Catalina Rodriguez, and Candice Barley of “Saved By Grace” at 21C:
And also got to hang with wonderful Geena Davis Institute’s Social Media Manager Christy Lee Hughs and filmmaker Anna Elizabeth James of BFF’s showcase film “Emma’s Chance”:
A League of Their Own Reunion Game!
BFF’s co-founder Geena Davis starred in the awesome “A League Of Their Own” so BFF has a reunion game every year with the actors of ALOTO and the original real life players.
Either I’m a loser with no friends or I am super VIP showing up to the Darius Rucker concert in this by myself:
Sold out show!
When we went to BFF’s music events at The Meteor, we caught ARC Entertainment’s General Manager, Scott Moesta working on his laptop lol:
Meet Scott and Vinko of ARC Entertainment and also Rodney – BFF’s Director of Research:
Artist Patrick Hunter is so talented! He paints a portrait to clips of music and it is timed perfectly! This time, he chose to paint Prince to Prince music at the Opening Party of the Festival. I cried. #RIPPrince
I also met jazz musician Marcus Johnson at BFF’s Opening Party. He’s like me – not just an artist, but also has a law degree and attended the University of Miami! We’re posing with M&M’s (one of BFF’s sponsors is Mars) and on the white carpet (one of BFF’s sponsors is Clorox … get it white instead of red carpet?)
The Box Office!
David Lightfoot and Pam Lightfoot are so freaking cool! Always supporting BFF in so many ways! The day after the festival, they invited a few people still left to yummy barbecue at their place. Here’s a pic I took of David, Paul Prado (BFF’s awesome Director of Filmmaker Relations), and you know Brian.
How I became both staff and filmmaker at BFF
Thank you Olivia Lerner for hiring me! Our Alchemy LLC was the largest independent distribution company in the United States and managed legal and accounting for BFF. Last October 2015, she hired me and here’s a picture of some of the business and legal affairs department at the company holiday party: Olivia, Aaron, Trevor Morishita, and me. It’s unfortunate that companies go out of business, but I’m thankful for the friendships I made at Alchemy and for that company bringing me to my BFF family.
Also thank you Catherine Dent and Tessa Blake for bringing me into the AFI DWW family! More about that program here. I produced Silk (link here) and Election Night (link here) and Election Night screened at BFF 2016 so I got to be both a BFF Staff Member and BFF Filmmaker! 🙂
Thanks for reading/watching my journey! Hope to see you at the festival next year and also at our smaller events throughout the year in Los Angeles, New York City, and Bentonville (probably more cities soon!)
The professional videos and pictures of the VIP are here:
http://www.BentonvilleFilmFestival.com – http://www.BentonvilleFilmFestival.com
http://www.facebook.com/BFFfestival – http://www.facebook.com/BFFfestival
http://www.twitter.com/BFFfestival – http://www.twitter.com/BFFfestival
http://www.instagram.com/BFFfestival – http://www.instagram.com/BFFfestival
Posing at our Los Angeles office when I first joined BFF in 2015, with Wendy Guerrero (head of Programming), Gina (head of Sponsorships and Marketing), Courtney Lawless (Gina’s right hand pal & wonderful BFF social media!), GC (head of Accounting/Finance and ½ of #GraceSquared)