Interview with Ileana Montalvo, founder of Award Queen

Q. Could you please introduce yourself and share a bit about your background?

A. I began my filmmaking career at one of the leading documentary production and film education centers in the US – Downtown Community TV Center in New York where I worked on award winning documentaries and taught community video classes. From there, I transitioned into arts administration working in New York’s cultural community until I landed my longest gig at the Association of Independent Commercial Producers (AICP) as their first Director of Events. I started my own business Award Queen in 2017.

Q. What inspired you to establish Award Queen, and what was the initial idea behind its founding?

A. My experience producing advertising award shows taught me that while companies spend substantial sums on entering festivals, they often made mistakes on their entries, entering the wrong categories, missing opportunities and the like. I decided to use my unique behind the scenes experience to help companies manage their awards submissions with an eye to entering the festivals and categories where their work is more likely to shine.

Q. What are the main goals and mission of Award Queen?

A. I help my clients enter festivals and award shows strategically for a higher likelihood of success.

Q. You have served as AICP’s first Director of Events for 18 years. Could you describe your role and share some highlights of your experience?

A. I was responsible for the production of two internationally acclaimed advertising award shows, The AICP Show, The Art & Technique of the American Commercial and the AICP Next Awards Judging panels were the highlight of the year – I learned so much about the craft, it was like university. When I began my career there, everything was analogue. We received entries in videotape and entry forms were on paper. I was there when technology made it possible to send video files over the internet and I helped design AICP’s online entry and judging systems. I had the opportunity to work with the visionaries making that technological shift happen. It was an exciting time.

Q. In your opinion, how can a film festival benefit filmmakers?

A. Film festivals are celebratory by nature so they are always exciting, inspirational and fun. They are educational, you learn from the work that is showcased, from the panels and lectures and from your peers. And there are always opportunities in the air.

Q. As an experienced professional in the film industry, what advice would you give to emerging filmmakers?

A. Never have the tools to make films been so accessible, appreciate your good fortune to have the opening to be able to dive in. Pay the people who help you their worth. Be organised and be nice.