First Time Fest is a four day, multi-faceted event in New York City. Its mission is to showcase and celebrate new and exciting work by first-time screenwriters, producers, directors, editors, composers and cinematographers. The event will be held at The Players in Gramercy Park and the Loew’s Gramercy Theatres.
The historic and renowned Players Club will be the anchor for First Time Fest. This landmark venue of stage and screen could not be a more fitting home for our event. In addition to lunch, dinner and other networking events, the Players Club – celebrating its 125th anniversary during the Festival – will be the host for First Time Fest’s panels and most other non-screening related activities. This will include the How They Did It series: filmmaking case studies that will be moderated by award-winning filmmakers and will present a diverse group of successful and accomplished masters of industry.
The featured films of First Time Fest will represent a finalist pool of 12. Each of the 12 finalists will have their works screened during the Festival before an audience of industry professionals and the general public. A panel of five jurors will then judge each of the films. Four of these judges will be film industry elite, while the fifth judge – unlike any other festival in the world – will be the collective “Voting Public” or VPs. These VPs – 120 on each of the Festival’s days – will be selected by lottery from amongst the thousands of movie-goers expected to attend First Time Fest. And 12 special VPs will be selected in a nationwide contest to represent the country at large.
In addition, filmmakers will participate in an immediate Q&A “Hot Seat” process with the celebrity judges (in front of the general public and VPs) and also benefit from continued mentoring beyond their initial screenings. In future years, viewers at home will also be able to participate online, through a dedicated subscription site, much like Netflix or HuluPlus. These offerings are forward-thinking technological strategies to embrace the inclusion of the broader public and to provide longevity for the First Time Fest.
The Grand Prize winner of First Time Fest will be presented at an exclusive gala on the final day of the Festival and will receive the offer of a full-distribution deal arranged through a partnership between First Time Fest and Cinema Libre Studios, a successful international entertainment company based in Los Angeles, California. Cinema Libre has produced over 15 award winning international films and has distributed more than 100 films over its 20 years of operations. Beyond distribution, the winner will be provided international sales representation by Cinema Libre and will also receive a host of other major prizes.
First Time Fest will also present other prizes during the Awards Ceremony, including: “Outstanding Direction,” “Outstanding Screenplay,” “Outstanding Cinematography,” “Outstanding Editing” and “Outstanding Score.”
The Players is the oldest and most exclusive arts organization of its kind. The club was founded by Edwin Booth and Mark Twain, and its membership includes the greatest stars of stage and screen. Each of First Time Fest’s twelve finalists will receive high-level industry mentorship and a one-year membership to the Players.
First Time Fest and the Players will also be presenting the first John Huston Prize for Lifetime Achievement in Cinema to one of the world’s greatest cinema artists. It will truly be an event to remember.