National Film Festival for Talented Youth | Seattle Youth Film Festival | Student Film Festival

NFFTY at Cannes

NFFTY at Cannes


An interview with Tommy Yacoe, Director of Wragg is in Custody (NFFTY 2011).

Tommy Yacoe at Cannes 2011!

Q: What are some of your thoughts on attending the Cannes Film Festival?

A: Cannes was amazing.  Having spent the last four years in Seattle attending the UW, I was pretty isolated from “the industry”.  It really was like a crash course in the business side of independent filmmaking.  Being able to participate in the festival was something beyond my wildest dreams. I was accepted into the Real Ideas Filmmaking Program, using my NFFTY short film “Wragg is in Custody” (co-directed by Scott Blake) as a submission piece.  With the program, I shot a short film at the festival which screened out of competition during Closing Weekend.

I had two films in Cannes 2011, which was a huge honor.  While I was there, I had the opportunity to meet celebrities and attend premieres, but the real value of the experience came from the friendships that I made with great people from around the world who I hope to work with in the future.

Q: How has your experience at NFFTY and Cannes changed your life?

A: NFFTY was the first real film festival that I attended, and it happened to be less than a week before I left for Cannes. Both festivals were life changing because they gave me the opportunity to make connections with people from all over the world.

I really valued the youth experience that NFFTY provided as it was much easier to make connections than Cannes.  I’m talking less about business connections, and more about interpersonal connections, which to me are the most valuable. While I made a ton of amazing friends at Cannes, it’s also saturated with people trying to sell their script or secure distribution.  NFFTY on the other hand was full of people just like me who were talented and motivated, yet still trying to find their place in the film world, which was a great environment for meeting people who could be both friends and filmmaking contacts.  Both festivals were amazing and unique in their own ways.

Q: What is the fondest memory you had at NFFTY and Cannes?

A: All of the best memories from both NFFTY and Cannes were all about the friends that I made along the way. I realized that I could learn a lot and make stronger connections simply by being myself and listening to other people’s filmmaking experiences.

The most rewarding part of NFFTY was making friends with the whole troupe of filmmakers from Denmark, as well as several people from New York and Los Angeles.  After the closing night party, we hung out until the crack of dawn, and it was the most fun I’ve ever had. Though I was sad for it to end, I quickly shifted gears and flew to Cannes just a few days later.  I was living in a villa with 30 other young people, all of whom had come to Cannes to network and immerse themselves in the professional film world.

The most rewarding experience of the trip was seeing my short film “The Monks of Saint Honorat,” up on the big screen as a part of the festival, but the most unique moments came from shooting the films.  While I was directing my own film at the festival, I also assisted another person in my program during a late night shoot at a drag show.  At that moment I realized how often filmmaking has allowed me to vicariously experience different lifestyles, which I guess is one of the unique perks of the trade!

Q: What are your plans for the future?

A: I graduated this past spring from the UW, so I’m taking some time off before getting into anything too serious. I’m currently focusing my energy on wrapping up a documentary about higher education that I co-directed with Andrew Mitrak under the Sterling Munro Fellowship.  We hope to premiere in Seattle in September.

Q: Any word of advice to  young filmmakers out there?

A: The best advice I can give to young filmmakers is to stay positive and be fearless.  It’s a really exciting time to be a filmmaker because technology is no longer a limiting factor in the creative process.  As NFFTY has proven, basically anyone with a great idea and the technical know-how can produce something amazing, and it’s only going to keep getting better and better.

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