The Tacoma Film Festival was established in 2006 by Tacoma’s one and only nonprofit art house and movie theater, The Grand Cinema. The festival is an annual tradition celebrating independent filmmakers and their artistic talent on the silver screen. The 13th annual Tacoma Film Festival will run Oct. 4–11 and submissions to enter the festival are still open for feature and short films, music videos, virtual reality and 360° film experiences. The deadlines for early bird and regular submissions have passed, but the late submission deadline will be open until May 7. However, if that’s still too soon, they also offer an extended and final deadline of June 25.
The Tacoma Film Festival showcases a selection of films from not just the Pacific Northwest, but all around the world. This platform provides a training ground for the film community and makes a great place to connect and exchange ideas with other emerging filmmakers. It’s a great opportunity for those who are itching to show off their work, and it might even draw in the next creative collaborator.
In recent years, several UW Tacoma students have been featured filmmakers at the festival. Long Tran, a UWT junior, and Nikkia Atkinson, a UWT alumna, are among these students. The duo collaborated on a short film called “Dinosaurs in the Hood,” which was featured at last year’s festival. This film is based on a spoken word poem by Danez Smith that empowers African-American men and fights their negative representation in media.
Tran has had two other films that were accepted in past years. “Trapped,” his first film submitted to Tacoma Film Festival in 2015, is a documentary profiling the experience of his former classmate, Brooklyn, who came out as a trans woman in high school. This documentary inspired Tran to later recreate a longer version entitled “Trans,” which was also accepted into last year’s festival. Both “Dinosaurs in the Hood” and “Trans” were produced as class projects that eventually grew into something greater.
“There’s no surefire way to get into a film festival. The only tip I can give is make an amazing film with a great story, visuals and sound design, back with a dedicated cast and talented crew,” Tran said. “However, I’ve gotten rejected more than I’ve been accepted, it’s a rather costly game.”
Tran has been recognized by many local and national media outlets including NBC News. He’s also won several awards and nominations for his films, and many of them have been screened in major cities across the United States and in the United Kingdom. Currently, Tran is working on several different projects, including a short film he wrote, directed and edited called “Jap,” which is an avant-garde, fictional reexamination of Executive Order 9066 told in a modern-day context as it pertains to interracial relationships and Asian masculinity. Tran has also entered “Jap,” into this year’s Tacoma Film Festival and many others.
If you’re interested in submitting a film for the Tacoma Film Festival, here are a few tips compiled by Tran and Darcy Nelson — director of marketing and communications at The Grand Cinema — to get connected and save some money.
Students may receive a $10 submission discount with proof of enrollment to a school. Just email them at firstname.lastname@example.org before the film is submitted.
Washington filmmakers may receive a complete fee waiver with proof of residency. Make sure to email them before the film is submitted.
Returning TFF filmmakers’ submission fees are waived. Email a waiver request along with the film’s title and year it played in TFF.
May 12, The Grand Cinema and UWT Film Club will be hosting a free networking event called 253 Film Summit for local filmmakers, students and those interested in the media industry. Learn, connect and create with professionals from Smarthouse Creative, Washington Filmworks, UW Tacoma, Alma Mater Tacoma and The Grand Cinema. It’s free, but registration is required.
Submit Early! According to Nelson, “the earlier you submit, the sooner we’ll see your work before that of others. Think of it a little bit like a job application, where it’s best to be seen in the front of the pack.”