TAOS SHORTZ on Drones, LGBT Filmmaking and the Hunt for the Extraordinary

We had a chat with their Festival Director Anna Cosentine about the festival, finding out about their Drones section, the current trends in filmmaking and why you should make your film as out-of-the-ordinary as possible…

It’s an easy mistake categorising New Mexico as a sparsely populated land of UFO’s, hispanic culture and sweeping desert.

Because there’s more to it than that – including a festival named by MovieMaker Magazine as one of the ’25 Festivals Worth The Entry Fee’. Taos Shortz film festival is a pioneer in the region, spearheading the growth and appreciation of independent cinema throughout the 47th State since 2007. The festival is also a pioneer in another regard – in that of film submissions. Indeed, Taos Shortz was the inaugural partner of FilmFestivalLife!


Andrew Wilkin, Film FestivalLife: Anything new that filmmakers should know about Taos Shortz?

Anna Cosentine: For sure. This year, we have many new things going on. We have invited a lot of recorders here to our festival – from Hollywood or New York for example – to create some stories on Taos Shortz. We’re also pursuing some production companies, to procure a famous actor as a celebrity speaker.

One extra thing our filmmakers should definitely know about is our DRONES IN CINEMA seminar. It’s free and popular – there were 150 people there last year  – with 10 drones flying around teaching the audience how to use them in cinematography. It’s an undoubted highlight within the TAOS SHORTZ program.

What types of films are you looking for?

Anything that exhibits REALLY good storytelling. We pride ourselves on content and also expect high-quality production, editing, sound and cinematography. The cream of the crop! From 2 to 28 minutes, in any genre. Just one thing: we don’t take music videos.

We particularly love our Out of the Ordinary section, which includes films of all genres. They don’t necessarily have a straight narrative and a lot of these films exhibit a dreamlike quality. We’re also fans of one shots – they are often exhibited in our Out of the Ordinary section, for example…

When filmmakers get selected for TAOS SHORTZ, what can they expect?

Okay, Taos is tough to get to – a 2 and a half hour drive from Albuquerque airport – but when you’re here? It’s worth it.

We love our filmmakers and we put them up in nice hotels, provided by our lodging sponsors. Taos is a small, eclectic and walkable town, similar to Park City. There’s no need to run around and there’s plenty of time to get everywhere. We’re an intimate group – filmmakers in the past who’ve screened their works here have kept in contact with, and gone on to be amazing friends with one another. There’s one word for it. Camaraderie!

What else? We offer them a festival pass with priority seating, discounts and free or discounted food and drinks. And if they want to see anything else within the area, we can organize trips for them.

Are there any trends you see in short filmmaking?

Every year is different. This year we seem to be seeing a lot of films about transsexuality or regarding questions of sexual identity. It really seems to be in the mind of many people, especially young filmmakers from the US after the legalisation of gay marriage. So refreshing to see!

In the past, we’ve had a lot of typically ‘depressing’ films – particularly when the economy was in the pits. Last year we received a lot of fantastical stuff. It’s always interesting to see the wave.

In an age of VOD, why are film festivals still important?

It’s like going to a concert. There’s that energy that comes from communicating with people on a face to face level or watching your audiences faces when they see your film. We’re all human – we have emotions and like to interact. Filmmakers are inherently social, they exhibit their idea and absorb some too – you can’t do that in front of a computer screen.

Anything else about the festival?

We are really excited about our emerging artists category. This is where you can see lots of first time directors and directorial debuts in competition. No lie – we really get some amazing stuff from first time filmmakers.

I just wanted to add that we are the only short film festival in New Mexico. In Taos, we are the only festival. Local audiences and people from the area are all so excited to have quality festival in their reach. It really comes alive.

How have you found your experience with FFL?

Well, Taos Shortz was the inaugural partner festival of FFL. We came on board because it’s so cutting-edge and to this day, we are 100% happy with FFL. Here’s what’s what. It really gives us the better quality films, and that’s what we’re looking for, after all…


Anna Cosentine, Executive Director
Taos Shortz Film Fest
07 Apr – 10 Apr, 2016
Taos, United States

Submit to Taos Shortz on FilmFestivalLife:

Earlybird Deadline: Sep 11, 2015
Regular Deadline: Nov 22, 2015
Late Deadline: Dec 11, 2015


Read more FilmFestivalLife stories:

:: LIFF and the Challenge of Defining ‘American Independent Film’


Andrew Wilkin

Andrew Wilkin is the Client and Community Support Coordinator at FFL. His editorial background has involved working at unlike. His film experience has included a position at moviepilot. Reach him at andrew@filmfestivallife.com

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