Interview with Melanie Addington, Executive Director of the Festival, 38

What do you think has made the Oxford Film Festival so successful?

We are very hospitable. When we started, there was no YouTube, and no Netflix, no way to watch independent film except for coming to our festival. That always made us sort of popular locally. We started travelling to other festivals and really marketing, and hearing from filmmakers that we treat them better than other festivals do. We make sure there are lots of parties, we really take care of them. We pay for a hotel room, we pay for a shuttle. Eventually, we’d like to be able to pay for flights. We treat them so nicely that people just keep coming back and talking about us. And I think that helped grow the success of the festival. Having a full-time director focus on it has helped, we’ve tripled our sponsorship budget, doubled our number of submissions, and that’s because there’s somebody full-time focusing on it.

What is your favorite memory of the Festival since you’ve been involved?

There have been so many memorable moments over the years but I think one of my top favorite memories was getting to take James Franco and Tim Blake Nelson to Rowan Oak for a private tour with Bill Griffith and watching these two filmmakers become fanboys seeing where Faulkner lived and his book shelves and typewriter and more. It was neat watching them be fans after helping them get through their own sea of fans earlier that evening for the premiere of As I Lay Dying.

Where do you see OFF heading in the future?

The future of the festival depends on sponsorships and community support. We’d love to continue to grow. This festival has been named one of the top 50 in the country for the past three years, and I think it could grow to be one of the strongest events to happen in the state. I’d like to see the attendance increase. We’ve added free programming so people that can’t afford it can be involved. We’re really trying to grow the festival not in length, but sort of in quality. One of the things we’re hoping to increase over the next five years is year-round programming. So something every month from us. And really focusing on the filmmaker experience.