My Festival Journey

Megan Leonard | Monday, January 15, 2024

Megan Leonard - My Festival Journey

Megan on the set of Dream Creep. Photo credit: Anastasia Babenko

Back in 2016 I was working year-round at SIFF as Programming Coordinator, and Beth Barrett—who was then, Director of Programming, and now leads the organization as Artistic Director—brought me back a mug from her trip to Sundance. At the time, Sundance was mythical to me. I continue to use that mug as a marker in my personal history book as the last Sundance I did not attend. Now with the 40th edition on the horizon (and SIFF’s 50th), I’m marking Sundance 2024 as my first with a film screening.

My life (in film) began when Beth and Clare Canzoneri Garvin hired me as a programming intern in 2010, and the countless hours I’ve spent immersing myself in cinema since then has been invaluable to my education as a filmmaker. Beyond the watching of Festival submissions (which has totaled over 5,000 films), people I’ve met through the organization have had their hands all over Dream Creep, the short film that will be premiering at Sundance this month.

Dream Creep is the culmination of so many creative minds and years of hopeful collaborations. Writer/Director Carlos A.F. Lopez I first encountered when he beat me at the Sync Music Video Festival at SIFF Cinema Uptown with his 3D La Luz music video. Actor Sidney Jayne Hunt worked in guest relations for SIFF for years and I met Producer Bobby McHugh at a SIFF filmmaker dinner… and now we’re all heading to Sundance together! And SXSW! What?! While no one was looking, we may have creeped our way onto the scene. And, let’s just say… I include SIFF in the Special Thanks for good reason.

Group photo of the cast and crew on the set of Dream Creep. Photo credit:  Anastasia Babenko

Going into this year I’m hopeful of what’s bubbling up out of the creative community here in Seattle, and what magic could be made in May. Maybe I’ll meet my next collaborator at Opening Night, or an up-and-coming filmmaker to admire out of this year’s batch of short films at SIFF. Either way, I can’t wait to see you there.

Megan Leonard has been a Seattle International Film Festival programmer since 2010 and currently leads the New American Cinema and ShortsFest teams at the Seattle International Film Festival. She has also programmed for Indie Memphis and DOC NYC, and served on juries at Fantastic Fest, Cleveland International Film Festival and Palm Springs ShortFest.

You can follow Megan’s adventures @itsmeganleo on Instagram, or

  • Date: January 15, 2024
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