Skye McLennan of Templeton has been named the new Festival Director for the San Luis Obispo International Film Festival. Submitted photo

The County’s largest film festival has a new, homegrown leader and the former director is staying on as artistic director.

The San Luis Obispo International Film Festival named associate director Skye McLennan, a native of Templeton, as the new festival director, replacing long-time director Wendy Eidsen, who will continue with the organization as the artistic director. Eidsen came to the festival staff as artistic director in 2005.

“I am so thrilled to announce Skye’s promotion and look forward to continue to work with her,” Eidsen said. “She brings a wealth of festival experience, new ideas and a youthful perspective to our organization as we continue to add to the reputation we have earned across the country as an important regional festival.

“We all recognize how important it is to bring in people with enthusiasm and innovation to keep an organization fresh and relevant and she brings all of that and so much more to the table.”

McLennan grew up in Templeton, earned a degree in cinema from San Francisco State University. She also studied TV documentary at the Danish School of Media and Journalism in Denmark.

A dual citizen of Australia and the U.S., McLennan moved to Sydney, Australia and worked in film production design on short films, features, advertisements, music videos and documentaries.

She first became involved in film festivals in high school and volunteered with the SLO Festival. Over the following 10 years, she worked with major film festivals including the Sydney, Sundance, Tribeca and San Francisco International Film Festivals. 

Since moving back to SLO County, she has been involved in the wine industry in both marketing and winemaking. In 2017, she launched her own rosé label, Rebel Skye.

In her job as associate director this past year, she introduced new ticketing software, procedures and website improvements, as well as working with Eidsen on programming and overall planning.

“It is an honor and a privilege to continue working alongside Wendy, our board and staff in my hometown of San Luis Obispo,” McLennan said. “While a difficult time for our industry, I continue to be amazed by the incredible creativity, ingenuity and dedication to sharing film with audiences. With the help of my incredible team, we look forward to coming back bigger and stronger to continue our mission of bringing diverse stories and entertainment to San Luis Obispo County.”

With the Coronavirus Pandemic, the SLO Film Festival — originally scheduled for march 17-22 — had to be reimagined, as no theaters were open for showing the movies, independent films, shorts and documentaries that mark the annual summertime event.

SLO Film Fest was one of the first film fests to go online when the pandemic shut down everything.

According to a news release, “MovieMaker Magazine cited the fest, known for its beautiful location, parties mixing filmmakers with film fans, and unique melding of surf culture and wine country, for leading the way for other film festivals to pivot to the virtual space”

“San Luis Obispo is known for tranquil Central California weather, wine and beer, and a festival that boosts a personalized Filmmaker Concierge for moviemakers and other special guests,” the magazine reported. “SLO also offers the truly unique Surf Nite in which surfers and ocean-lovers unite for an event that’s like a cross between a ’60s surf movie screening and The Rocky Horror Picture Show.”

The film festival’s organizers have turned their attention to organizing next year’s festival, which barring another pandemic, would be held in march 2021. See: slofilmfest.org for information.