Arts, Dining & Entertainment

Vermont Comedy Festival founders plan to bring summer Film Fest to the region

Submissions are open for all categories

The guys who brought you the first ever Vermont Comedy Festival this past December are at it again with the first ever Vermont Film Festival. The comedy fest will be an annual thing and the hope for this is to follow the same blueprint. I sat down with founders/comedians Collen Doyle and Matt Vita, on a lovely spring day on the Rivershed patio, to learn about this.

The film festival will run Aug. 23-27 and the idea kind of came from the comedy festival. Vita said, “Collen has done a film festival before and we’ve both wanted to have one. This dovetailed off the success of the comedy festival. It seemed like the right time to do it.” 

Doyle added, “We were able to get the trade name for the Vermont Comedy Festival and able to get the trade name to Vermont Film Festival. There’s some overlap in branding and marketing and it has a similar feel and design which is getting extremely talented people from all over the country together in one place so that we’re able to network and celebrate each other’s work. One of the things I’ve noticed as a filmmaker is that so often you spend so much time making movies and movies come out, but you don’t get a chance to see what other people are doing or get a chance to show those films. Film festivals are a great opportunity to get together, evaluate other people’s work, see what other people are doing and have that time to do that.”

Pentangle Arts is one partner, and the Woodstock Town Hall Theatre will be the main location for the five days of the film festival. The Little Theater in Woodstock will also be showing films every day. Vita said, “We have some cool events planned like jazz on the water after the screenings, Woolen Mill Comedy Club [in Bridgewater] will be screening the comedic shorts and we’ll probably do a comedy show or two because we do that pretty well.” 

Doyle added, “We’re also partnering with First Stop Board Barn [in Killington] to bring an element of outdoor living and outdoor sports/extreme sports filmmaking to it.” 

Vita said, “We’re doing a whole action sports aspect of the festival. Randy at the shop has an outdoor projector so we’re going to have a big barbeque party there and show some films. It’s going to be super cool. If you’re a local dude making ski movies or if you have a cool edit from this season of you shredding, submit that, it could get on the screen.” 

506 On The River Inn (West Woodstock) is also an ongoing partner of the the festivals.

Just like with the comedy festival, they plan on having people immerse themselves in the area. 

Vita said, “A lot of these film festivals you go to, there’s not a lot of hang. You go and just consume the film. Some positive feedback we got from the comedy festival is people got to experience Vermont. People who had never skied before got to go skiing. They got to feel the love of the local community. We want to do the same thing, but in the summer.” 

Doyle added, “We’re not in the largest metropolis but we’re in what I would consider the quintessential Vermont area. In the summer you have access to hiking, swimming, kayaking, paddleboarding, mountain biking and more. If people are here for 4-5 days, they feel like they have an authentic Vermont experience.”

After the comedy festival, comedians who had never met each other are now touring together. They got to see fellow comedians perform, which was never possible before this. Vita and Doyle hope the same thing will happen with the film festival. “When you’re out, you’re crossing paths in various local businesses. You’re deepening those connections. Hopefully those relationships are something people can go out and use,” Doyle said. “If some of these filmmakers can collaborate on each other’s films, we would consider that a big win.”

When Collen Doyle started the Woolen Mill Comedy Club, nobody thought of the area as a destination for comedy but after doing the comedy festival, they solidified the WMCC and this area as a premiere destination for comedy. He said, “Similarly like with the work we’re doing with the film festival, it’s solidifying this area as a destination for film.” 

Many major movies and TV Shows are claiming to be in Vermont but they’re not shooting here like “Wednesday” on Netflix for example. 

Doyle explained, “There’s a certain level of prestige that’s associated with the brand of Vermont but they’re not contributing to our economy.”  This festival will.

Doyle continued, “This is a great opportunity for people to network. Our goal is to foster deep and meaningful relationships with people who participate and hopefully that helps as a springboard to their career. If you have a great Indie film, the number of routes that film can go to get eyes on it are sometimes limited. You can make a good movie but unless it’s purchased by a distributor, you’re not going to be able to see that film. With a film festival it’s a highly curated set of films that often you wouldn’t get a chance to see, especially to see that many great films in a short amount of time. It will be rewarding to see these, especially on a big screen. Nobody makes movies so you can watch it on your cellphone. Pentangle has a 360-seat theatre with a state-of-the-art projector. You’re going to be able to see the movie as it was meant to be seen.”

Matt Vita said they’re hoping to get a financial backer/partner to come in so they can offer a cash prize to the best film with the stipulation you have to use it to produce something in Vermont and come back to screen it next year. 

For more information visit: 

Submissions are open to all in any category, including: Best Feature Film, Best Short Film, Best Director, Best Performance, Best Documentary, and Best Action Sports. Films must have completed post production in the last 24 months to be eligible. Submissions are limited to one short film and one feature film per individual entrant. The regular deadline for submissions is April 30; the late deadline is June 5. For more information on submissions visit:

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