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Sunday, March 4, 2007

MicroCineFest, Rome, Santa Fe, IndieMemphis Film Festivals

Stomp! Shout! Scream! had a good run of festival screenings last fall—Brazil, Rome, GA; Memphis, TN; Erie, PA; Red Bank, NJ; Fargo, ND; Eureka Springs, AR; Racine, WI, Baltimore, MD; and Santa Fe, NM. In 2007, screenings continued in Augusta, GA and most recently Starkville, MS. That’s 24 screenings in 16 states and 4 countries, with two Best Feature Film Awards (the first festival screening at the Toofy Film Festival and the most recent screening at the Magnolia Film Festival). It has always been my goal to have a screening in all 50 states. The film is 32% of the way there with outstanding film festival submissions in South Carolina, Iowa, Connecticut, Minnesota and Michigan.

If anyone reading this would like to screen Stomp! Shout! Scream! in their town, please contact me.

The festivals I’ve attended seem to fall into two categories: Small-town festivals bringing indie films that wouldn’t otherwise get screened there and city festivals that tend to be as much a society events as a film festival. Both festivals have their advantages. Bigger city festivals usually have more money to spend on filmmaker travel and parties, where small-town festivals often spend their efforts on creating a community for filmmakers to interact with each other and audiences. It’s these festivals that foster a community for filmmakers that I find the most fun. Making independent films is exhilarating, but also very, very hard work. It will certainly make you crazy. Finding other people with the same passions makes it all the more worthwhile and invigorates me to keep going.

Almost every year since 1999, I’ve traveled to Baltimore for MicroCineFest, “thee underground film festival in Baltimore, hon.” Without Skizz and MicroCineFest screening my short films early on, I would have never had the confidence to attempt making a feature film. This year, Stomp! Shout! Scream! was invited to be the closing night film (screened out of competition, so I could continue my tradition of being a judge for the festival). As always, watching great films, duck pin bowling, visiting the Visionary Art Museum, and hanging out with Nick, Mike and everyone else on the screening committee was truly the best film festival experience anyone could ever have. I can’t thank Skizz enough for all he’s done for me and for independent filmmakers everywhere.

The Rome (Georgia) International Film Festival generates very enthusiastic audiences and programs excellent films. I got to meet one of the biggest influences on my becoming a filmmaker-- Rich Schmidt, author of the now-classic Feature Filmmaking at Used Car Prices-- and view one of his early films, Emerald Cities, on a big screen.

Several filmmakers and organizers from the Santa Fe Film Festival were in attendance, which led to Stomp! Shout! Scream! screening in New Mexico in December. The highlight of my trip west was getting to see the creature feature The Host, an incredible monster movie from Korea. Go see it when it opens in the US in March.

Jay with '60s counterculture icon Wavy Gravy at the Santa Fe Film Festival.

In Santa Fe with filmmakers Donna Musil (Brats Our Journey Home) and Amy Linton (Sacco & Vanzetti).

The Red Bank International Film Festival screened the film back in October, where it received its best review yet from THE RAG—“ the monthly entertainment source serving the Jersey Shore.” “This movie totally ROCKS… FANTASTIC… well written and extremely imaginative. I wish more movies out there still had the clean and cleaver vibes of this retro flick,” said reviewer Debra Dynamite. I really wish I could have attended this one, I hear folks loved the film.

IndieMemphis is a wonderful festival that focuses on Southern films and filmmakers. I got to meet several super nice folks, including Oscar-nominated filmmakers Craig Brewer (Hustle and Flow and the upcoming Black Snake Moan) and Ray McKinnon. Stomp! Shout! Scream! got some great national press with a picture in MovieMaker Magazine thanks to IndieMemphis.