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The Tampa Film Review 2008 unauthorized review by film festival expert C. A. Passinault. A Tampa Bay Film exclusive!




The unauthorized review of the Tampa Film Review monthly film festival By C. A. Passinault



Note About This Tampa Film Festival Review

Since my last review of The Tampa Film Review, I have been very unpopular with the film festival organizers. I did not attend The Tampa Film Review in 2008, although I tried to attend the December Tampa Film Review to obtain a first-hand account on reported improvements.
I was denied entry to the Tampa Film Review.
This review is a result of many hours of conversation with attendees of all of the 2008 Tampa Film Review film festivals and reports from people who attended. I have done a lot of research on every Tampa Film Review film festival event in 2008.
If you disagree with any part of this Tampa film festival review, or are curious to see how accurate this review is, you can always attend a Tampa Film Review event yourself. I am confident that, after you experience it yourself, that you will agree with the points brought up in this film festival review, and with the film festival scorecard.
This review will not have the background information which I included in last years review of The Tampa Film Review. I don’t intend to bog down this Tampa film festival review with all that background information, as I don’t want to repeat myself.
I strongly recommend going back and reading the review for the Tampa Film Review 2006-2007. You will understand more about some of the points in this review if you take a moment to review the earlier review, which was originally published on Tampa Bay Film in January 2008, and was upgraded with more content added on October 24, 2009.

Oh, and another note for trivia fans. I didn’t use my professional camera to obtain the pictures for this review and the earlier review of The Tampa Film Review. I could not justify taking a large, expensive camera to Ybor, at night, for something like The Tampa Film Review. So, I used a consumer-level Nikon L10 to take these pictures. For what I used, it wasn’t bad, and I pulled it off. Both title images for the TFR reviews were taken with this camera, and those pictures turned out awesome.

The Tampa Film Review entered its fourth year strong, but it began to experience mixed attendance and film programming beginning in theThe route to the Ybor parking garage is much better now. Come up the sidewalk to 7th avenue, take a left, and you're there! We didn't take any pictures of the actual film festival because we were not allowed in, and the pictures would not have been this good, anyway. Those people really should stay away from cameras! February 2008 Tampa Film Review. The Tampa Film Review did, however, have a successful run of monthly film festival events despite missing an October installment, and despite venue issues. The Tampa Film Review encountered turbulent, and stressful, times, too as it endured not one, but two, venue moves! During the moves, the organizers also managed to fix some of the technical issues that have plagued The Tampa Film Review since it began. I will say that 2008, in many aspects, has proven to be the best year for The Tampa Film Review.
This said, 2009 is looking cloudy for the future of The Tampa Film Review. There are new challenges ahead, and some sticking issues that threaten to undermine this monthly Tampa film festival series. We may be looking at the last days of this film festival series, and none of us want to see it end, despite the issues that we have with it. The Tampa Film Review, although still very rough around the edges after all these years, does show potential, and this film festival series could be awesome if the organizers work harder, pay attention to details, promote it to the general public instead of people in the Tampa indie film scene, and, well, actually organize it.
Oh, and film festival organizers, please note that there is nothing wrong with making money producing this film festival. There have to be at least 99 ways of making money with a film festival series and still make it free to the public, or, at the most, make it available at a small cover charge. Making money would also give you the cash flow to keep the quality of the event up and make attending fun, productive, and career-worthy (although it could be argued that this is not what the TFR is all about, and being free makes it more accessible; that's fine if all you want it a monthly gathering where you watch films of varying quality instead of a serious film festival).
That’s the problem with many Tampa film festivals. Everyone wants to run a charity, and not a business (and, yes, charities ARE businesses, if they want to be successful). In my opinion, the lack of a business-mindset is the number one problem with The Tampa Film Review, and I am simply amazed that they have been able to pull this off as long as they have with so little to work with. That alone is worth a bit of respect. Unfortunately, you can only wing it so long before the flawed organization and other issues begin to catch up with you. I don’t see how The Tampa Film Review can last much longer, and if 2008 has been any indication, that end may be closer than most would think. Indications are that the organizers seem to be losing interest in The Tampa Film Review, and there are reports about general apathy. I can relate to that, as we all face times in our careers where we stare burnout in the face. You either deal with it, or you throw in the towel. There is no middle ground. If you go through the motions and have a film festival just to have it, then it’s not fair to you, and it’s not fair to your audience. It’s also not fair to the filmmakers, who would simply be wasting their time submitting films to a mediocre film festival, which is the same film festival with the same issues, month after month. There is a saying that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different result. May I present to the jury The Tampa Film Review. There have been almost 60 TFR’s since it began in 2004, and in that time there has not been so much as a single innovation, or that much of a change (other than the venue merry-go-round). Hell, this year they finally managed to deal with some of the issues that they had with audio, and that’s a detail that should have been addressed four years ago when the film festival was getting up to speed. Feature? I think not. Audio is a basic part of the event which should be at least acceptable by default (perhaps they though that the TFR was a silent film festival with occasional audio highlights?). I couldn’t begin to tell you how much it hurts the viewing experience when the audio cuts out when you are trying to watch a film. Such was my experience many times at The Tampa Film Review, as well as the experience of those around me. There was one time, at its International Bazaar venue, where I was talking to film festival organizer Paul Guzzo before the film festival, as I arrived 30 minutes early and there was no one there yet (this was before the film and actor networking started running an hour before the TFR). Paul asked me if I could fix their sound system, which was the one supplied by the venue. I told him that I would make an attempt to do so. I took one look at it, and I couldn’t believe the way that it was wired. I’ve rigged systems before, but I’ve never seen a system so half-hacked in my life. I told him that I probably could rig it if I had enough time to figure it out and do some wiring. It would take me at least thirty minutes of tinkering with the mess to sort out how it was wired, thirty minutes to wire and rig it, and another thirty minutes to test it out and make sure it was working correctly. I stood there imagining disconnected wires all over the Tampa Film Review venue floor when the event was starting, and me sitting in a suit and tie, on the floor, in the middle of the wires clenching plugs. That would have sucked, especially since I would have been blamed by the people for crippling their film festival, and the venue would probably have not been too happy with me for tinkering with their equipment.
So, The Tampa Film Review forged on as-is. It managed, and the sound was sketchy, but bad sound is better than no sound at all. The audience, after all, was used to it. Once you’re acclimated to something, it becomes more difficult to notice what’s wrong.
In retrospect, I should have got with the venue owner and the Guzzos and took some time later to fix that sound system, or loan them that seven channel dual-amp Peavy board that I don’t use anymore (it’s a “Sherman Tank”, and a pain to move and set up, but it’s awesome once it has been set up- it can power four large speakers, handle up to seven microphones or inputs, and run enough sound for a venue of 1,200 people, or ten TFR’s at once). At least then The Tampa Film Review would have had some good sound. One of the regrets that I have, even after regretting helping with the production of The Quiet Place, was that I didn’t do anything to help them with their audio issues. For that, I am sorry, but then again, it really wasn’t my responsibility. It wasn’t my event. It was theirs, and if it had issues, it was their fault. It’s not like they didn’t have time to fix it.
Ybor City can be quite beautiful, despite the drawbacks. After attending a TFR, there are no shortages of restaurants to eat at. Just travel in herds for safety! Most TFR regulars will gladly herd with you without even thinking, as that is their way.I can hear the excuse of money coming up. I can imagine what they would say. “Well, if we had the money, we could fix some of those issues”. Let’s not talk about money. I I spent years pulling off the impossible with little, to no, money. Only in the last few years have I really started making it, and most of that has been working as a photographer. If you don’t have the money, find a way to make it. If you don’t have time to earn it and run something as time consuming as The Tampa Film Review, at least find some investors to get what you need, run it as a business, and respect your efforts enough to make money producing your film festivals. The Guzzos always seemed to find money to do their films. Why did the film festival become an afterthought? Well, maybe it technically wasn’t, but this is what it looked like to all of us.
If you can’t do something right, or don’t have the resources to do it properly, should you? One reason that I have not launched my own monthly film festival, the Tampa Film Showcase, at the time of this writing is that I need the resources in place to do it right. It needs resources in place, and it needs to be consistent each and every month. It also needs to do a lot more than just show indie films. It needs to set, and maintain, standards.
I have a business rule. It goes like this. If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well. If it’s worth doing well, you need to get paid doing it. If you don’t do it well, you sell everyone short, including yourself and your clients. If you do it well and you don’t get paid for it, you sell yourself short, and the time that you can keep up the effort of doing it well is limited. Eventually, you won’t be able to do it anymore because you won’t be able to justify the time and the energy expended into a project with so few returns. In such a scenario, a film festival becoming routine and popular would become a victim of its own success. It would quite literally implode with few resources supporting it, and the high demands, upon it.
My photography company is a business. I treat it as such. I take care of it, and it takes care of me. In any endeavor, you will only get out of it what you put into it. Stop trying, and you stop benefitting. Think that I go around undercutting my profits by selling cheap photography services or doing charity work? No, I don’t. I researched the photography market, and found out what was appropriate to charge for different services. I set my base rates, and prepared to market my business. I collaborated with professional models to invest in and to build a strong photography portfolio, always putting my best into what I did regardless of the hardships, and my portfolio shows the hard work, the love, the passion for photography, and the effort that I put into building it. As a result, I book work without having to pitch anyone any service. Once my clients look at my portfolio, they pay what I ask for because they see how my work can benefit them. My sell-through numbers astonish salespeople, and I really can’t recall anyone who ever tried to talk my rates down. I get what I ask for, and I probably would get more, although I wouldn’t know because I don’t take advantage of my clients. I practice good, fair business.
I also have one of the highest client satisfaction rates out of most service companies. My client satisfaction rate currently stands at more than 98%, which is something that I am very proud of. I put my best into everything that I do. It shows. I care about what I do. I care about what my clients want. I care about what my clients need. I do photography work for them like I would do it for myself. Every shoot that I do, I try to get results which are worthy of being showcased in my photography portfolio, as well as their portfolio. We mutually benefit, and it is balanced out quite well.
How many businesses do you know of where they simply don’t care? They don’t care! They only want to get paid! How long do you suppose that those businesses last? I’ve never seen any business run like that last.
I spent some time in a large retail store a few months ago doing a project. I talked to one of the salespeople. She was running around handing out flyers, and pitching product to people. She later talked to me, and complained about the lack of sales that she was getting. She blamed it on the bad economy. Without taking down to her and while remaining positive (yes, I can, and do, do this- I just choose not to when I don’t feel that someone is worth it), I told her that the economy was a scapegoat. I told her that retail businesses were panicking by marking down their inventory too quickly and too soon (50% discounts on their most profitable products two months before black Friday! Could it be that heavy discounting is what is putting these businesses out of business and not a slow economy?). The customer’s picked up on the panic, and it undermined their confidence in what the store was selling, regardless of how good the product was. As a result, most of the customers had the mindset of looking for discounted items rather than quality items. This temporarily raised sales, but it further cut into the profits because, while there were sales, there were few profitable sales. This fed into the panic that the retail store management were seized by, and became a vicious, downward spiral. One customer that I saw walked around the store, and she was talking loudly on her cell phone (I did not purposely eavesdrop, but her loud conversation made what she said impossible to miss). “Wow” she said, looking at tags as she wandered the floor, “There are some great deals here! You really need to get down here, and take advantage of the misfortune of others..... Wow, I really sound bad when I say it like that, don’t I?”
I was amused. She summarized what was happening perfectly!
Customers won’t care about you if you don’t care about them. Customers won’t respect you if you don’t respect yourself and what you claim to be doing. In this economy, and with retail in particular, the things that are happening are a self-fulfilling prophesy. It’s a bad economy if you believe that it is, and you allow your fear to dictate how you act. In the case of retail, the customers became discount-driven and it seemed as if their higher brain functions shut down. They were not rational, and like the retailers, simply did not care. They became more animalistic, like sharks in a feeding frenzy.
Of course, there is always a way to turn it around. It doesn’t take much get a customer to stop, think, rationalize, and think about how buying something can benefit them. At that point, they care more about how the product benefits them rather than the discount.
Going back to the salesperson, she kept lamenting about the bad economy and how people were not buying anything regardless of how hard that she tried to sell to them. She asked what I did. I told her that I made most of my money as a professional photographer, and I also make money as an event planner. She asked how much I made. Her jaw dropped when I told her. She asked how I could make so much in this bad economy without offering discounts. She asked my advice.
I was more than happy to help out.
First, take care of the customer. Genuinely care about them and what they are looking for- none of this fake B.S., either, because even actors fail to pull that off. Most people can pick up on things such as false modesty (and if they don’t, are they worth dealing with?), the fact that you don’t really care about them as a customer, and other B.S. Also, don’t pitch them. Pitch most people, and you make them more resistant to what you are selling. Instead, talk to them. Just talk to them, and be genuine about it. Listen to what they say, too. The customer will often tell you what they want. While conversing with the customer, demonstrate how the products or services that you are selling will benefit them, and fit those benefits into what they are looking for. You’ll sell, and you will never have to pitch.
The salesperson listened. She returned to the floor.
“One more thing” I said.
“What’s that?”
“Look at the people walking around. Those are opportunities. Every single one of them. Also, with all that foot traffic, it’s a great sales day! It will only be a bad one if you allow it to be.”
Well, I must say, she did quite well that day. She had some of the highest sales numbers in the store.
She came up to me smiling at the end of the day. “You, my friend, are a very unique person. You are very smart. Thank you for your help!”
I smiled, knowing that the customers won that day, too, and that they were helped.
Ah, another cool shot of Ybor City's Centro Ybor. See the burger restaurant below the stairway? Mmmmmmm. If The Tampa Film Review had THAT as a venue, we would have no choice but to give it a "10" for venue. Yes, the milk shakes are that awesome!So, what does all of this sales and business mumo-jumbo have to do with The Tampa Film Review? A lot, actually. There are a lot of analogies that fit, if you look for them, and I won’t insult your intelligence by trying to explain it more than it needs to be. Just think about it as you read over this review of The Tampa Film Review.
Simply put, The Tampa Film Review never had a business mindset, and although the organizers pitched the benefits, they never seemed to care about those who they pitched to (even if this was not the case, although the point is that no one could tell from what they observed). Worse still, they consistently failed to deliver the benefits which were promised, and this undermined the confidence of their audience. Many of the people who checked out The Tampa Film Review went once, usually to show their film or to support a filmmaker, and never bothered to return. Why should they return? How did The Tampa Film Review benefit them?
Hell, it was worse than that. I remember, more than once, where a group of people got up and left right after their film or the film of their friend played, right in the middle of the program!
The Tampa Film Review is not run like a business. It should be, but it never has. There is no way that it can keep going like it has been the way that it is being run. Something will have to give.
I would be shocked if The Tampa Film Review is around long enough for a 2009 review, and I really don’t want to see it fail. It still has potential, and it can be fixed!
Pretty much, the only way that The Tampa Film Review can fail as an event is if the organizers give up. As for its effectiveness as a marketing tool, however, that’s another story altogether. The Tampa Film Review can go on, month after month, technically a successful event, but also a failure. The whole point of a film festival is to EFFECTIVELY promote indie film. Effectiveness? How do you weigh that out? Well, who is your target audience? Professionals who can get distribution for your film? Investors who can see promise in your short film and can help fund a feature film? Is anyone who can benefit you present in the audience? No? Then how does showing your film at The Tampa Film Review benefit you? How is that effective marketing when you don’t reach your target audience and the effort does not support your professional business goals in any way?
I told the organizers with my last review that I hope that they would utilize it as a wake up call and make the changes that are needed. That review was never meant to disparage them or to slam them in any way. That review was born of frustration, of hearing too many complaints from people attending, and enduring many Tampa Film Review events myself. Something had to give. Someone had to do something, someone had to say something. I finally did.
I couldn’t begin to tell you how many people contacted me after reading the last TFR review and thanked me. “At last”, they would say, “Finally, someone said it. Someone finally said what we’ve all been thinking. Now, maybe things will get better”.
Oh, and most of those people were hopeful that the issues with The Tampa Film Review would be addressed. They didn’t want to see the Tampa film festival series end and fail, and frankly, neither do I. I do this review for the good of The Tampa Film Review organizers, their audience, the filmmakers trying to promote their films, and for my readers.
If nothing does improve, at least others can learn from the mistakes of The Tampa Film Review.

Film Festival Concept
The concept of The Tampa Film Review is remarkably simple. It is a monthly, bare-bones Tampa film festival with seats, a portable screen, a video projector, and a sound system. It was initially a good concept, albeit with flaws, because there is at least one other monthly film festival in the Tampa Bay area, and this one features professional networking.
The Tampa Film Review gained networking in 2007, with the Tampa Bay Film Industry and Actors Network holding meetings at the same venue as The Tampa Film Review right before the film festival. Although the networking meeting is conducted by a different group than the organizers who managed The Tampa Film Review, it is a symbiotic relationship. The networking meetings were scheduled and timed to lead into The Tampa Film Review event.
As someone who has actually endured this process, I can say that it doesn’t work well. The professional networking is not directly integrated into The Tampa Film Review, as the networking event is technically a separate event teaming up with the film festival, and it is not nearly as effective as it could be, or rather, should be. This is why the other monthly Tampa film festival has superior networking. The professional networking is a direct part of the monthly film festival, and it benefits from stronger organization because it is integrated into the film festival event and is managed by the same people (In my opinion, the TFR would be better, and run much better, if the people running the networking ran the TFR, although the improvement wouldn’t be much).
In 2006 and 2007, I know of many actors, talent, and filmmakers who had complaints about The Tampa Film Review. I heard many of the same complaints in 2008.
As a monthly Tampa film festival, The Tampa Film Review is a decent concept, but what undermines any potential of maximizing that concept are sloppy organization, an event which is marketed only to a niche group, and spotty execution of the film festival.
The Tampa Film Review still fails in one big area. It’s not a good platform for promoting serious indie films. How many distribution deals have been made through exposure at The Tampa Film Review? How many filmmakers have actually benefitted from submitting their films and getting involved?
The organizers see The Tampa Film Review formatted like a group of friends getting together to watch movies. While that is cozy and inviting in theory, it has proven to be useless for professional filmmakers.
Ok, I can deal with the “friends getting together to watch movies” theme. That’s cool if you’re not serious about filmmaking or are not into watching good, creative films. Anyway, let’s go with that. At least make it fun! How to you make that concept fun? How about a group of friends getting together to laugh at and mock bad films?
Oh, that’s right. The filmmakers are in the audience, too. That might not go over too well.

Film Festival Venue
Ah, I am happy to see this change for The Tampa Film Review. Although the new venue is actually the original venue in Ybor City, inside a small storefront, this is a good thing. The venue is much better suited to be used for a film festival, as you do not have any drunks vomiting or obnoxious shoppers interrupting films with noise. The Tampa Film Review venue is smaller that the International Bazaar was, but it gets major points for being much more comfortable, and appropriate, for a film festival. It also has good air conditioning, which is very important in Florida, as none of us want the stench of sweating fanboys with our films.
From what I could see from the glance that I had of it, the organizers have learned to put the screen at the back of the store, with a good amount of seating arrayed simply in front of the screen. The screen can be seen from the storefront, so pedestrians can see movies playing as they stroll by, and I can see them becoming curious and going inside (I know of a certain Ybor photography studio which was set up the same way a few years back, but the photographers shot a lot of nude and questionable work, and I’m not sure how well that went over with the people walking by). This is a good thing, although I certainly hope that cars going by on busy 7th avenue can’t see the screen. If they are distracted by a large movie screen, I could see potential liability if it is blamed for an automobile accident. This is speculation on my part, however, as I don’t think that it is easy to see from a car.
Ahem. On to the venue location. Ybor City is a seedy place, and it has never had a great reputation. It has one of the highest crime rates in the Tampa Bay area, and its night clubbing party atmosphere is fake and trashy. This said, I talked to many people who work in Ybor City, specifically ones who work in Centro Ybor around the Tampa Film Review venue. I found out that crime had gone down. Walking around, it did seem a bit calmer than before, but I still came across some sketchy people. I even talked to a criminal lurking over at Subway, and avoided becoming a crime statistic! I also witnessed two drunk bums fighting on 7th avenue, but it was easy to avoid them by walking around them and continuing on my way with my Subway sandwiches.
Anyway, speaking of walking, what I like about the new (old) Tampa Film Review venue is that it is twice as close to the main parking garage, and you no longer have to cross 7th and 8th avenues to get to the film festival. This, in my opinion, make it much safer.

Film Festival Vendors
Once again, there are no vendors. Would it be cool if there were? I suppose that it is too much to expect vendors at a monthly film festival. Well, at least for now.
The Tampa Film Review doesn’t seem to factor in vendors, so I don’t see this changing. In all fairness, however, the other monthly Tampa film festival in Saint Pete doesn’t have vendors, either.

Film Festival Organization
I keep hearing the same old story. The Tampa Film Review has not improved much with organization, and the organizers still do not screen the films properly. The Tampa Film Review is still loosely organized, and it’s not seen as being very professional. The organizers, to their credit, have been trying to improve the organization, and it has improved a bit, but they still need work.
Perhaps they could partner with a professional event planner? I’m all for that, as long as it is not me. The Tampa Film Review is not the type of film festival that I would be interested in running. My idea of a film festival would be an effective one with no technical issues and an extensive program of benefits. That’s not The Tampa Film Review, and frankly, I don’t think that The Tampa Film Review could be brought up to my standards even if its issues were fixed. The problem? The core audience, which is the Tampa indie film clique. They need to be banned, and since there are not that many of them, it wouldn’t hurt the film festival at all. You know the saying about how a few bad apples spoil the bushel. Well, these people would surely do their best to sabotage and improvements, much like the bitter, disgruntled employees of a company undermine change after a merger or a takeover. Fire them, and bring in fresh people with good attitudes, I say.
Sometimes, it is best to start over fresh, and discourage the participation of anyone who would work against the goals of the film festival. I certainly don’t mean profiling people or discriminating against them, but those who aren’t with the program need to be shown the door. Check your egos and your fake politics at the door, or leave with them.
99% of most attendees, however, won’t be a problem.

Film Festival Entertainment
Well, things haven’t improved much here. The Tampa Film Review simply isn’t much fun, and a lot of people don’t bother coming back once WOW! There is hope for Ybor City yet! We found this cool Galaga / Ms Pac Man arcade machine at a rooftop bar. If The Tampa Film Review has classic arcade games and other video games for when the audience gets bored of a film and wants to wait for a better film, we would have to give them a great score for entertainment! Fun stuff! My top score in Galaga, by the way, is 159,000, wave 9. Top it!they sit through one (that is, if they last that long). This has led to weaker attendance in 2008.
Sitting though bad, poorly made films is still a big issue. This is largely due to the lack of screening of the films by the organizers, but I understand from conversations, with those-in-the-know, who have indicated that this could be because of a time crunch. The organizers may not have much time to screen films and to program a two hour film festival. Might I suggest that they get the help of some volunteer screeners who can watch the movies, rate them, and then give them synopses of what the films are about, and how good they are?
It really wouldn’t make a difference, though, because the organizers have made it clear that the main idea of The Tampa Film Review is to be a place for all indie filmmakers to show their films, regardless of their quality. While I like this idea, and I applaud them for their professed principles, this does not necessarily work as a film festival. You have an audience who has to sit through all those films! Don’t bore them. At the very least, entertain them!!!!!!!
Fortunately, The Tampa Film Review plays short films. Unfortunately, most of those films suck, and you have to endure the bad ones to find the occasional gem.
The experience of The Tampa Film Review has improved, from what I gather. While the video projector remains mediocre, there was at least one Tampa Film Review event where they used a stunning high definition projector. They have mostly fixed their audio issues, too, and this is a great thing (could it be that they did so in response to my last review?). Ok, guys, you’re making progress. You gain points.

Film Festival Attendance
Attendance for The Tampa Film Review in 2008 is reported to be slacking, and a big issue with that was the changing venues. After the International Bazaar, The Tampa Film Review briefly moved into a studio before they were forced to move again, finding their way back to the original venue. A lot of people had trouble finding the venue/s, and the organizers didn’t communicate what was going on very well. The Tampa Film Review lost some of its audience through the move, and the present venue cannot handle nearly as many people as the International Bazaar. This said, they are not nearly at capacity at their existing venue, so this is not significant. You have to have a full house before venue capacity becomes an issue.
Ah, and the main issue with attendance remains. The Tampa Film Review serves primarily as a club for a small clique of indie filmmakers and film fans. The Tampa Indie Film Clique is still the resident group, and they make it hard for any professionals to network and to get involved with Tampa indie film. This is a big reason why there really isn’t a Tampa indie film community. There is only a Tampa indie film scene, with a Tampa indie film clique masquerading as a Tampa indie film community and using these film festivals as a way to satisfy their feelings of self-importance. Many times, professionals do stumble in and try to get involved, but they are quickly discouraged. The Tampa indie film clique is generally nice to those who they do not perceive to be a threat to their careers, but if they feel that you are competition, insecurities flare and things get nasty. They will size you up, set you up to fail, slander you, try to undermine your credibility, and gang up on you. You get treated like this from people who have little to offer you to begin with, too, which is ridiculous.
Is it really worth attending if the core group is a small clique who really don’t have much to offer?
With all of the time that I spent attending The Tampa Film Review, I made three professional contacts and people who I consider to be friends. I keep in touch with them outside of The Tampa Film Review, and I will add that out of all of my hundreds of professional indie film and talent contacts who I have, not a single one of them came from The Tampa Film Review or would ever want to become involved with The Tampa Film Review. I tried bringing actors and talent to The Tampa Film Review in the past, and they all were not impressed. None of them wanted to come back, and they tried to discourage me from attending, too. With that many people walking away, could it have been a sign that there was a lot wrong with The Tampa Film Review.
Maybe not wrong, but the feeling of many professionals is that it is really a poor investment of time to attend and to get involved, and that in itself is a symptom of many issues.

Admission Value
Well, The Tampa Film Review is free. That’s good, I suppose, but the realty is that you get what you pay for. As you have to watch a lot of crappy films, and the networking prospects are limited, you expend a lot of time at each Tampa Film Review with very little to show for your attendance. Most of the films are poor quality, the main people are boring, and the organization is sloppy. There are the good people and the good films that appear from time to time, but they don’t last. They are often lost in a sea of mediocrity.
With gas prices, and parking which is not free, there is a cost to attending the Tampa Film Review, even if it isn’t directly. Since most of the good films which have been shown at The Tampa Film Review, or will eventually show at The Tampa Film Review, are also available online or on the Tampa Bay Film Online Film Festival, is there a point to attend The Tampa Film Review in order to watch indie films? Sure, you might bring up professional networking, but trust me when I say that The Tampa Film Review is a poor professional networking opportunity, even if you attend the Tampa Bay Film Industry and Actors Network meeting held before The Tampa Film Review. I attended three of them, only had time to talk to four people and hand out cards before The Tampa Film Review started, and was not too impressed with the people who I did meet.


The Tampa Film Review is something to do if you don’t have anything else going on. If you want to discover what the current Tampa indie film scene has to offer, it’s a good way to do that, but if you are looking for more, forget it.
If you are a professional filmmaker, professional talent, a production professional, or an entertainment professional, your time is better spent elsewhere. Do you really want to hang out with amateurs and watch films that, mostly, are not worth the time spent watching them? Most of my experience at The Tampa Film Review was watching films worse than the ones that we made in school in the early 90's, or meeting people who really have no clue what they are doing; people who did not have much potential to make it in indie film.
Time is valuable, people. Watch how you invest it. If you don’t have much going on, and have some free time, checking out The Tampa Film Review might be something that you could consider. If you have something better to do, however, then it is hard to justify attending The Tampa Film Review.

The Tampa Film Review Film Festival Event Scorecard

Please note that a score of 5 is average.

Concept (1-10): 5
-1 deduction from previous score.
Tired concept of people getting together to watch indie films of mixed quality. It’s simple, but extremely limited. The professional networking is not effective, either, as there is little time to meet others and to network after the networking meeting ends and the film festival begins.

Venue (1-10): 8
+2 improvement from previous score!
Much better than the venue last year. The current venue is the first venue from 2004-2005, and this full circle is a good one. Close to the parking garage and you don’t have to cross two streets to get there. Additionally, no obnoxious shoppers to distract you from your indie film goodness!

Vendors (1-10): 1
Same as previous score.
Hello? Vendors? Maybe the TFR is too small and too short for vendors. There are none.

Organization (1-10): 5
+2 improvement from previous score!
Much improved, although the organizers seems to be more apathetic about things. The improvement seems to be more about getting into a routine than actually planning and executing a film festival.

Entertainment (1-10): 5
+1 improvement from previous score!
It’s more fun that it was. A few better films and some unintended comedy. It’s more fun if you go and quietly make fun of the films to your friend sleeping beside you. Better yet, try bad film transference, where you pretend that characters in the film are people that you know. This was great fun for me and friends when we watched bad films such as the late 80's remake of “The Blob”, and the recent horror film “Devil’s Den”! Since the TFR shows shorts, however, this may not be easy to do, since most films are short and have few characters to mock.

Attendance (1-10): 4
-2 deduction from previous score.
Lost in Ybor........ How many muggings happened as a result of the wandering flocks of film fans searching for the secret venues of The Tampa Film Review? This, and questionable programming and the trademark TFR organization, led to lower than average attendance for most of 2008. Oh, and skipping the October TFR was a bad move. Were the organizers afraid of the large horror film festivals in October, and they gave up and rolled over without a fight? It would have been interesting to see what attendance would have been if there was an October TFR, although at least they would have tried.

Features (1-10): 4
Same as previous score.
Well, there are films. And announcements that were probably easier to listen to. Oh, and there was networking, but that didn’t work well, either. That’s about it, again.

Admission Value (1-10): 4
+1 improvement from previous score!
It’s still free, and still what some may refer to as a guilty pleasure. Watch bad films, and like the proverbial box of mystery chocolates, you may luck out with an occasional good film, but usually not before choking on some bad ones. The venue is closer to the parking garage, which limits the danger of the walk in many ways. Did I mention that it was free? May I add that you still get what you pay for?

Overall Event Score (1-10): 5
+1 improvement from previous score!
A little better, but still a flawed Tampa film festival. With a year to make improvements and to fix what was wrong, this is a case of too little, too late. If you are interested in checking out The Tampa Film Review, if only to see if this review was right, do it while you can, because we expect this rickety train ride to derail in 2009 and crash into a ditch. If you do it, do it just to say that you were there once!


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UPDATED 12/05/09




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