Every now and again something comes along in our cool city that really must be noticed. For too long, movies have been made here without a big film festival to celebrate this creative community. But for the last decade, one festival stands out that a lot of folks don’t really know about, which is wild! This summer, I sat down with the founder, Ivan Weiner, and discovered so much more about the Albuquerque Film and Music Experience.
Ron: Mr. Ivan Weiner, you run a major film and music festival here in Albuquerque, AFMX. But your story that gets you here goes way back. How did this all begin?
Ivan: When I was 13, I asked my dad for a bike. He said, you want a bike, get a job. So, I eventually paid my way through college detail cleaning cars. I went to the office with a chunk of money where they thought I was a drug dealer…
So, long story short, I ended up working at the Watergate Hotel. Talk about prestige… I met everyone from Michael Jackson and Prince to Kings and Queens from around the world. I built a reputation of having the best service.
So, one day I happen to be backstage at an Ozzy Osborn concert and I meet Dennis Hopper. He was impressed I was head Concierge at the Watergate. Fast forward, I moved to New Mexico and became head concierge at Hotel Tamaya where Dennis was filming “Swing Vote”. Dennis asked me how much it would take to work for him instead of the hotel, and that was the history of my time in the hotel industry. Through Dennis, I learned everything about entertainment. That led to me being a key player in the film industry. In 2012 Ann Learner asked if I could start up a film festival in Albuquerque. We were the number one city for making movies, but we had no major film festival.
Ron: This is the ten-year anniversary. Where are you now?
Ivan: It’s interesting. Yes, there is a huge economic impact (15 million over the past 10 years) but this festival at its core is about changing lives. When Jeff Bridges flew home in 2016, he gave me a big bear hug and said: Ivan, you have exceeded my expectations on what this festival does for people.
Ron: That’s amazing. So, for this year, can you give us a run-down of your defining events?
Ivan: Absolutely. You really can’t miss the Master Class in Documentary Filmmaking with Chris Schueler. Also, “How to make it in the music world today.” This panel consists of: Chris Gero, Founder/Vice President of Yamaha Entertainment Group, Bob Divney(The Artists Cooperative), and Moogie Canazio(Emmy/Grammy Winning). These guys know what it takes to build a successful music career. On Friday the 16th, Stewart Lyons, Executive and Line Producer of Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul, will be teaching basic line producing in his two-hour conversation. Also, Fearsome Femmes of Horror Films, with Dee Wallace, (from ET), Deborah Voorhees (Actor in Friday the 13th, Producer/Director) and Monique Candelaria who is a local horror actress. Another amazing center-stage conversation is “How to Write your TV Pilot with Joshua Michael Stern.” He is a prolific showrunner that worked on “Graves” and was director/writer of “Jobs”. It’s important to know what networks are looking for and how to execute. Also, Christopher Lockhart is coming with “The Inside Pitch”. Later that Saturday we will have a project pitch session with him and 4 pros. That’s right! New Mexico filmmakers have an exclusive opportunity to pitch their projects. Finally, the New Mexico shorts program will be our closing screening. Oh, I almost forgot, before that, we are doing an amazing intimate conversation “From PA to WGA, Getting it Done With Joshua Freedman.” He is going to lay it all out for everyone on how to make it in the film industry.
Talking with Ivan made me realize just how much we’re sleeping on AFMX. Tell your friends and family. There’s a real experience coming in September, for film and for music!