SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - When Emily Dillard attended her first SCAD Savannah Film Festival as a college freshman, she wasn’t even a film student.
“I was just going because I loved movies,” Dillard, a SCAD alumna as well as producer and co-writer of the film “Our Side.” said.
She says she also went for the community.
“I think there’s almost no more exciting feeling than waiting for tickets to come out with your friends in your friend’s dorm room,” Dillard said. "The night when the premiere is like getting their early and like, ‘Hey, can you get there early? Can you save us a spot?’ If you can get college students to show up for something two hours early, you’re doing something right. "
But the festival became more than a good memory with friends. Soon after, she decided to join the film program. Fast forward a few years, and one of her own films is being shown at the same festival that inspired her to join the industry.
This year, you won’t see students and Savannahians lining up waiting for a movie or trying to catch a glimpse of some famous actor or actress, but organizers say you can still expect the red carpet feel, just right in your own home.
“You’re still going to get that engagement, interaction, previews, never seen before screenings, Q & As with huge stars," Andra Reeve-Rabb, SCAD’s Dean of the School of Entertainment Arts said. "Now you’re just going to get a front row seat, so everybody’s in the front row.”
The festival’s executive director says she wanted to make sure the same level of interaction would be possible in this virtual format. She believes they’ve accomplished that through the platform they chose, called Paragon.
“We’re able to have the opportunity for our patrons and attendees to chat in questions," Festival Executive and Artistic Director Christina Routhier said. "They’re able to communicate with one another throughout different times of the presentation.”
Those panels, Q & A’s and discussions will all happen live. Dillard believes the panels played a pivotal role in her education and her experience as a fan.
“I think it’s equally as important as what we get in the class," Dillard said. "The Savannah Film Festival in a nutshell is this meeting of creative film minds.”
Organizers say despite the challenges of planning a remote and virtual festival, there are some unique benefits. The festival, and in a way Savannah, will be accessible to a wider audience this year.
“I had someone email me from Scotland yesterday excited about going to the Millie Bobby Brown event,” Routhier said.
That extended reach has a special meaning to Dillard, who otherwise wouldn’t be able to attend the screening of her film at her alma mater.
“We’ve had friends text us. We’ve had crew members text us saying, ‘Hey, we’re going to be watching.’”
Despite all that has changed, the stars and the movies are still there waiting.
“Millie Bobby Brown, I mean Eleven from 'Stranger Things,’ Jennifer Hudson, Delroy Lindo," Reeve-Rabb said. "I mean, you name it, we have these extraordinary stars that are coming through, and for all of us to have this access to ask them questions. That’s what I’m most excited about.”
The SCAD Savannah Film Festival will run from October 24 through October 31.
To see a list of frequently asked questions, click here.