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The Mammoth Film Festival has been offering guests a unique, fun-filled experience in Mammoth Lakes, California, since its inception in 2018. Cofounded by Tomik Mansoori and Tanner Beard, there’s more to love about the festival than just the films.
Mansoori and Beard combined their passion for the arts with their appreciation for the festival’s host city, showing a whopping 90 films over the course of four days.
“People travel from all over the world to attend and it’s our responsibility to make their time with us special,” Mansoori says. “Anyone can show films and sell tickets but what’s important is to create unforgettable experiences and an environment where the filmmakers can be seen and heard.”
The festival boasts a wide variety of content, from feature films and shorts to episodes of television, as well as foreign language movies and documentaries. Icons of the craft, such as Quentin Tarantino and Dante Spinotti, have even taken part in the event over the years — and you never know which other famous faces might make an appearance.
To learn more about the Mammoth Film Festival and Mansoori’s inspiration, check out the rest of our Q&A with him below.
- What made you decide on Mammoth Lakes, California as the home for your film festival- Mammoth Film Festival? And how did you source this location?
The location for us was everything. It’s close enough to drive from Los Angeles but also just far enough to make it feel like a destination weekend. If you leave by 7:00am you could be having lunch on the mountain by noon! Surrounded by the beautiful Minarets, Mammoth Mountain is one of the country’s top ski destinations.
My dear friend and festival Co-Founder, Tanner Beard, approached me in 2017 with the idea of doing a film festival, with his heart set on hosting it in Mammoth Lakes. He had attended a festival there years earlier and fell in love with the town, the way I did as a young kid who grew up in Burbank and frequented the town most of my life, several times a year for as long as I can remember.
We decided to take a drive up for a weekend and see IF we could possibly make Mammoth Lakes the home for our festival. Only a few hours after arriving and being enveloped in the cozy snow covered town we asked ourselves, “WHEN do we start?
- Since launching the film festival in 2018, what have you learned about producing festivals?
As the former VP of an Experiential Marketing and Event Production Agency, I’ve had many experiences in the festival world (Coachella), activating brands and producing large-scale ticketed events. And as a Film Producer, I also understood scheduling and planning over multiple days. That was a value I brought to our partnership. But as far as film festivals go, believe it or not, I had never been to one prior to ours.
I learned that producing a film festival is a lot like producing a 5-day movie shoot. Locations, talent, travel, set design, permitting, dealing with agents, etc. What I wasn’t expecting is the positive impact it would leave on the attendees, the Town of Mammoth Lakes, and ourselves. People travel from all over the world to attend and it’s our responsibility to make their time with us special. Anyone can show films and sell tickets but what’s important is to create unforgettable experiences and an environment where the filmmakers can be seen and heard.
- The mountain weather can be so predictable, how do you prepare for this?
After the relentless snowstorm in February of 2019, endless cars buried under feet of snow, and canceled flights out, we knew we had to start putting more snow contingencies in place. We communicate regularly with major weather forecast stations as well as the Town of Mammoth Lakes and Mammoth Mountain for storm updates. We try to educate our guests on car tire chains, alternate free transportation provided by the town as well as the new Bishop airport just south of Mammoth Lakes as a secondary option to travel in and out of.
- What makes your festival in the mountains so special? We assume guests can partake in winter sports while in attendance since it is a ski destination?
The landscape is awe-inspiring. Over 8,000ft in town elevation and over 10,000ft at the top of the mountain, it’s impossible not to take a moment and soak in the views before you ski some of the best powder in the country.
On the mountain by day, world premiere screenings in the late afternoon and film premiere parties at night. It’s the perfect festival destination for the outdoorsy cinephile. Mammoth Lakes also doesn’t have an open container law which gives attendees the freedom to enjoy an alcoholic beverage as they walk around town!
We also utilize as much of the town as possible, to support local commerce and bring an influx of revenue into the town, but also to showcase the different parts of the town. We host immersive film panels, screenings, performances, our awards ceremony where guests arrive by ski gondola, and so much more.
- The festival definitely has some great men’s interest components. Tell us about the action sports category, which features a big golf portion this year? (also plug that mammoth is a big golf destination)
We have an action-packed (pun intended) Action Sports category that has everything from Football to Golf, Surfing to Motocross every year. The Action Sports premiere event will have 2 golf simulators for guests as well as product sampling by companies like ARMA from CEO and Motocross legend Jeremy McGrath. Not to mention Golf.com as a sponsor of the event.
- Mammoth Film Festival has been described as a smaller version of the Sundance Film Festival but is quickly growing in status and attention since its debut, making it a sought-after film festival. What can we expect in the upcoming years?
One thing that sets us apart as we grow is the experiences we build for a few of our world premiere features. Mammoth Film Festival has been bringing the movies off the screen and into real life. For example: …Just finished watching Bosch & Rockit starring Luke Hemsworth? Stop by the after-party at the surf-themed tiki bar at The Village and take a photo on a custom fabricated surfboard photo opportunity that puts you into the barrel of a wave. Loved The Immaculate Room starring Kate Bosworth, Emile Hirsch, and Ashley Greene Khoury? The opening night premiere after-party will have a live TIR set built for guests to step inside the movie and draw on the walls using the same tools Emile Hirsch’s character used in the film. Full immersive experiences are the future of our festival.
- What are some men’s essential items to pack for a festival in the mountains and snow like Mammoth?
One word – LAYERS! While the outdoors can get as low as 1° the parties sure do heat up. Having a great layered jacket look makes it easy to peel those layers off as the night goes on. Lip balm is an essential item to keep in your pocket to keep your lips from being dry. Gloves are a must-have fashion item as well as practical. We offer a ton of merch with our festival branding on it, including fitted gloves specific for phone typing so that they keep your hands warm. The merch is available at the festival and on our website. Especially since the fingertips are “text-friendly,” you can look cool and still message your peers and fellow filmmakers to meet you at the Apres Ski party on the mountain. Beanies are also an essential winter accessory, warm socks, and various styles of flat boots and snow boots. This year mou boots from Australia are our snow boot partner outfitting all of our festival VIPS.
- What are Three tips to those attending the festival this year?
- Download the festival app! It’s your key to screening times, event locations, and transportation options around town.
- Bring a portable phone charger to keep your phone juiced so you never miss an opportunity to take a photo with your favorite celebrity, to post photos on Instagram showcasing our great events and happenings, and of course so you can always know where to be or how to get there.
- Come up with a sense of adventure in mind. The Town of Mammoth Lakes offers so much more than just the festival. Great restaurants, beautiful lakes, snowmobile adventures, and more. Walk around and take it all in.
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