By Scott Beller
Daddying Editor and Daddying Film Festival & Forum Dir. of Communications
Now in its second year, with a dramatically expanded format, the Daddying Film Festival & Forum (D3F), the first and only film fest focused exclusively on promoting the importance of positive dad involvement for kids and families, has experienced the same excitement, challenges, and raised expectations that many students do in their sophomore years. And while we’ve faced some technical growing pains that come with the territory – changing festival platforms, adding logistics of two live, in-person events, expanding our audience to include an exuberant and surprisingly large group of filmmakers (aka dads), and further proving a worldwide interest in the subject by attracting submissions from 21 countries (up from 17 in year one) – we’ve been buoyed by an intense enthusiasm and continued involvement of our 2022 Festival’s inaugural year participants.
Yep, in 2023, they came back for more!
One of D3F’s best measures of success has been the return of so many of our 2022 filmmakers, jurors, expert judging panelists, and Circle of Friends members to help us get this show literally on the road. Beyond their obvious love of cinema and creative storytelling, our Daddying Film Festival volunteers mirror our passion for this event’s main mission: to spotlight the importance of involved dads, in their presence and in their absence. And, like our founder and Festival Director Allan Shedlin, they are eager to share it with the world. Or, at least, with anyone within earshot!
Here are just a few examples of the many dedicated individuals who returned in 2023 for the D3F sequel to help ensure this “little international festival that could” was able to climb a higher mountain:
2022 Short Film Finalist, actor, teacher, and awesome dad from Australia Aaron Scully, whose delightful short Dad For Hire so perfectly represents the role of being a daddy, has allowed us to use his film to kick off our NM Daddying Film Forum events. Aaron, in addition to serving as a VIP judge in the indie and student film categories this year, has submitted two more films for D3F consideration. One of those shorts, Daddy’s Assessment, again earned him a finalist spot in our new Best Dad-Created Film category. Aaron’s films, in which he co-stars with his adorable daughter, Emma, have consistently set an excellent tone for the festival: understanding the responsibilities and opportunities of daddying and the importance of maintaining a sense of humor.
2022 High School Student Finalist for Delhi Days, Eshaan Mani now serves as the Festival’s student correspondent and has created student filmmaker interview and filmmaking tutorial videos for use on the D3F website.
Inaugural VIP Judging Panelists Margaret Parsons, Fredda Weiss, and Carol Darcy, who remain part of our panel of experts from the entertainment industry and academia that's grown from five members in 2022 to a dozen in 2023!
2022 Circle of Friends member, D3F 2022 Welcome video star, and 5-time Grammy Award Nominee Justin Roberts climbed aboard yet again to promote D3F on social media and even entered his own music video for consideration this time around. Everybody Get On Board, from his most recent album Space Cadet, is currently one of five D3F Best Dad-Created Film finalists.
All of our inaugural-year, youth- and family-focused Circle of Friends members returned for 2023. In addition to helping us promote D3F in a number of ways, like distributing information via organizational newsletters, email campaigns, and social media, they helped us grow our Circle of Friends network in vital areas, particularly on the ground in NM for our first on-site events. For example, with support from the State, Albuquerque, and Santa Fe Film Offices, we are proud to have the SAG-AFTRA New Mexico President and Governor's Council on Film and Media Industries member Marc Comstock (and his 5-year-old daughter) attend this year's NM Daddying Film Forum premiere to provide the opening welcome.
We've already begun planning how we can build on this year’s successes and learn from our missteps to help prepare for next year's events. In fact, we've accepted an invitation to bring D3F 2024 to Philadelphia. Stay tuned for details to come!
By retaining and recruiting more D3F talent, we’ll aim even higher. Thanks to all of you who have joined us on this journey and provided the extra fuel we need to achieve our goals – from student, dad/dad figure, and indie filmmakers to industry experts to festival attendees to journalists and dad podcasters to the many educators and family-friendly organizations who’ve helped us promote not only the Daddying Film Festival & Forum, but also the joys and importance of having and being an involved dad.
And so, the journey continues through Father’s Day and beyond – Daddy on to D3F 2024!
* * *
REMEMBER TO VOTE FOR YOUR FAVORITE FINALISTS!
Scott Beller is the proud, imperfect dad of two mighty girls, Morgan and Lauren, imperfect husband of rock-star mom, Elisabeth, Editor of the Daddying blog, and Director of Communications for DCG and D3F. He's a seasoned writer and PR agency veteran with more than 30 years of experience helping organizations of all sizes reach audiences and tell their stories. Prior to launching his own creative communications consultancy in 2003, he led PR teams with some of the world’s most respected agencies, including Fleishman-Hillard and The Weber Group. As a consultant, he’s helped launch two other parenting advocacy nonprofits with DCG founder Allan Shedlin. His first book, Beggars or Angels, was a ghostwritten memoir for the nonprofit Devotion to Children's founder Rosemary Tran Lauer. He was formerly known as "Imperfect Dad" and Head Writer for the Raising Nerd blog, which supported parents in inspiring the next generation of scientists, engineers, and creative problem solvers. He earned his BA in Communications from VA Tech.