Festivals, Audiences, Networking, Funding and Inspiration with Founder/CEO of Bushwick Film Festival - Kweighbaye Kotee

(Kweighbaye Kotee) #1

Hi! My name is Kweighbaye Kotee and I’m the founder of The Bushwick Film Festival (BFF) and creator and host of[ Indie Cinema New York (ICNY)] on BRIC TV.

Founded in 2007, BFF is hailed as one of Brooklyn’s most celebrated events; recognized for contributing to the borough’s artistic and economic growth. I’m especially proud of this video campaign by POPSUGAR and DELTA highlighting my work and BFF: http://bit.ly/2fRHZpI

ICNY invites film and entertainment industry leaders to discuss upcoming film releases and events. Recent guests included Oscar Winner Caroline Waterlow and Oscar Nominees Raoul Peck and Sam Pollard.

I’m also the co-chair of the Arts & Culture Committee on the Bushwick Community Board and the Executive Director of a Brooklyn based non-profit that funds various projects including public art.

I was born in Liberia, attended public school in Newark, private school at Blair Academy and received my B.S in Media, Culture and Communications from NYU. I’ve been featured in various publications including NBC, Fox News, POPSUGAR, Delta Air Lines, UNWomen Huffington Post, Brooklyn Magazine, Bushwick Daily, Indiewire and Tribeca Film.

I know a lot about film festivals, building and interacting with audiences, building a solid network, sponsorship, raising funds, staying inspired and leading creative teams!

Thanks and I really look forward to receiving your questions!

We've got an AMA for that!
(Bri Castellini) #2

Thanks so much for being here today, Kweighbaye! When/why did you get into filmmaking in the first place, and when did you start noticing web series as an emerging and worthwhile genre?

(Bri Castellini) #3

@alwaysafilmgeek @ghettonerdgirl @OSTSG @barbaramcthomas @afbarbag @dj_tilney @ronVceo @movieguyjon @mintypineapple @SnobbyRobot @filmwritr4 @idgafwebseries @ZackMorrison18 @mkatiehunter @DarekKowal @Brad_Riddell @RDRICCI @Offbeat @whoisjonporter @jonathankyall @JonSosis @shrutesnladders @kimhoyos @Ian_David_Diaz @mdec24 @RobbieRuviews @OddLantern @floorthirteen @solostinlost @w-e-spear @olga_markovic @cec263 @Halen_Williamson

(Meg Carroway) #4

Hi! I’d definitely like to ask about building an audience! How is best to start approaching that, especially if you don’t already have one?

(Blair Hunter) #5

Hi Kweighbaye!! What is an automatic “yes” or “no” for you, in terms of submissions to your film festival?

(Kweighbaye Kotee) #6

Hi Bri! Happy to be here. I got into filmmaking during my last year at NYU. After our 5th year of BFF around 2011 we started getting a lot of questions whether or not we receive web submissions. After many inquiries we decided to begin accepting web series

(Jaime Lancaster) #7

Funding question here!! Aside from crowdfunding… what do you suggest for newer creators who need help paying their cast/crew? What should more of us be looking at in that area?

(Bri Castellini) #8

Awesome! How has fitting series into a traditional film festival structure changed the way you do things, or has it? Is it uniquely challenging to evaluate series as opposed to shorts and features?

(Ollie R) #9

Sponsorship is something I struggle with and would like to know more about. Especially just finding contacts/contact info for people who I could ask for that kind of thing. Any advice there? Types of companies best to ask? How to frame the ask? How to get in contact in the first place?

(Pablo Andreu) #10

Hi Kweighbaye, I used to work for an awards show (different industry), and there were certain things that had nothing to do with the quality of the piece that ruled out the submission e.g. their files didn’t meet our requirements, like exceeding our length. And there were other factors that made submissions more attractive, such as the uniqueness of their case study video, which would be a breath of fresh air in a sea of submissions that follow the exact same format.

I know it’s not an apples-to-apples comparison, but are there any things like that you’ve noticed that rule out a submission or give a submission a better chance in front of the judges’ eyes? Any insider tips would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you.

(Jessi Almstead) #11

Hi Kweighbaye! I am wondering if you have any advice on how, as a creator, to know if/when your piece of work is ready or good enough to start submitting to festivals? What litmus tests do you recommend that can help us determine the quality of our work?

Thank you for being here!


(Kweighbaye Kotee) #12

Hi Meg!

The best way to start building an audience is digitally. Your instagram and twitter followers, facebook friends and what ever other platform you use is your audience. Also you can start a blog or newsletter about your creative projects and slowly but surely people will sign up. One thing I use is hootesuite to manage various platforms aand mailchimp for newsletters. Another great way to build an audience is to start hosing events.

(Meg Carroway) #13

But how do I get people to follow me on social or sign up for my newsletter or whatever? I have all the tools but no idea how to use them I guess is the problem. I would be GREAT at managing an audience and keeping in touch, but I have to GET that audience first, if that makes sense!

(Pablo Andreu) #14

I’ve heard that building an email subscriber list is more important than all social channels combined in building your digital network.

Do you agree with that? How would/do you go about building that email database?

(Meg Carroway) #15

Co-signing this Q!

(Kweighbaye Kotee) #16

Hi Blair! Generally speaking when the entire programming team is absolutely blown away by a film. A perfect combination of solid story, great production quality, and actors.

(Jaime Lancaster) #17

What about an automatic “no”? (kinda like @Pablo’s question)

(Kweighbaye Kotee) #18

Hi Pablo!

Great question. In the case that a film is amazing and our programming team would want to screen it, the things that prevent us from screening film often time can be the length of the film (particularly for short films that are at longer lengths like 20-40 min) or if a feature film is 90+ plus and we just really can’t find a slot for it in our feature programming. Another reason that would be we have multiple films with the same subject, similar story line, etc. Also, we also pay attention to diversity of a film on and off camera.

(Anna Bateman) #19

What’s something people rarely take advantage of at/surrounding film festivals? For example, if I got into your festival with my web series, what should I do next?

(Anna Bateman) #20

How do you determine diversity off camera? Do you do a search for each crew member to determine it, or is that something you expect submitters to highlight in a submission? How would you even highlight that without it being kind of… icky? EDIT: when I say “icky” I mean it would feel weird to me to like list what makes each team member diverse in an application without being asked.