On a circuitous route back to her hometown of Boise, Melinda Quick followed many forks in the road. After studying neuroscience, animal science and painting at Sarah Lawrence College—and spending a semester in Florence, Italy—Quick landed in a world she's comfortable in: cinema.
"When I was a kid, my favorite memories were going to the movies with my parents and asking, 'Can we go somewhere and talk about that for two hours?'" she said. "Let's put it this way, I spent nearly all of my allowance on movies."
In Florence, Quick fell in love all over again.
"It was an Italian film history class, reminding me of the dream-like beauty of cinema," she said.
After a stint working for Penguin Publishing in New York City, Quick spent the better part of 2014 making films for a nonprofit in South Africa. In 2015, she returned to Boise and began helping with the then-burgeoning Boise Film Festival. At the beginning of 2017, Quick took over as the executive director of BFF.
I don't think I'm the first person to tell you there is a graveyard full of film festivals that have lived and died in Boise.
It's hard, especially in the film community, where everyone has their own professional projects, but you want them to donate their time and energy to help a festival.
Can I assume you look at other film festivals with particular interest?
I really admire the Sun Valley Film Festival, and the Idaho Horror Film Festival is awesome—but in no way are we trying to ride someone else's coattails. I want the film community to be a safe place to share ideas. Our focus is on collaboration.
How might you make things different going forward?
I'm constantly cooking up new recipes. I definitely want to expand the festival from just one weekend to year-round events. Think about screening The Big Lebowski at a bowling alley or possibly The Neverending Story at Rediscovered Books. Or Strange Brew at a local brewpub.
In years past, the Boise Film Festival venues have been... how should I put this? Let's say they were 'unique.'
To say the least. It would be wonderful to screen at The Egyptian or The Flicks, but the cost is tough. We've had some fun showing our films at one-time movie locations like Ming Studios or the Boise Creative Center.
You've even used a local church.
One of the films we showed at that church cussed a lot.
A lot of them. We thought it might be awkward, but the people loved it, and the church didn't say anything about it. They were wonderful.
Let's talk about your just-announced Picture-Perfect Poster Contest.
It's pretty exciting. We've just made a call to all local artists—designers, painters, photographers, graphic artists—to reimagine a classic film poster against an Idaho landscape. Can you picture Pulp Fiction at Westside Drive-In? Or Jurassic Park at a local park? Submissions are due by [Wednesday,] March 15. We'll auction the poster off in June with half of the proceeds going to the artist and the other half going to support the festival.
I know September is far off, but have you begun curating this year's festival?
The submission process began in January. We'll probably get 100 to 150 submissions, and we'll select as few as 25 and as many as 40 films. There is no submission fee for any Idaho filmmaker or any film made in Idaho.
A lot of film fests insist on exclusivity from filmmakers or place other restrictions.
I'm OK with any film. If it's good, why wouldn't we want to show it?
Some festivals have made the mistake of wanting to be all things to all people. What is it that you don't want to do?
I'm very concerned about our reputation and visibility. Sundance is wonderful. South by Southwest is beautiful, but those are pretty exclusive events, and very pricey. I know it sounds a little crazy for one small festival, but we want to focus on collaboration in the Idaho film community. We want to highlight the Idaho film experience.