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Archive for September, 2014

It’s been six months since my first Omaha Film Festival experience.

For five days between March 5 and March 9, 2014, I was immersed in movies and short films I otherwise would probably never have been aware of thanks to an awesome Groupon all films pass. I took notes, which I labeled, “My Omaha Film Festival journey,” with full intentions of writing a review for each film and an overview of the whole experience.  Alas, I never did.

But here we are now.

I’m excited for the film festival in 2015. There are a few reasons.  No. 1 – It will be the 10th year for the event. A milestone that says a lot for film in Omaha, Nebraska. No. 2 – I’ve been a part of some of the team meetings this year with some really awesome people.  2015 is going to be awesome.

My first impression of the Omaha Film Festival was made with the movie “Obvious Child” – the opening night film.  It has stuck with me to this day. It stars Jenny Slate, who I was already familiar with from my favorite show “Parks and Recreation.”  The film left me with a lot of thoughts.  It tackled a subject, abortion, that could have gone horribly wrong, but didn’t.  It also left me wondering, “where can I find a trombone shirt like Slate had in the opening?” The movie has since gone on to gain quite the buzz! (The Economist, Omaha World Herald, Buzzfeed)

The next film I saw gained my interest because my current employer was a broadcaster of rural and agricultural programing.  I opted to see the documentary “Growing Cities.” Omaha filmmakers Dan Susman and Andrew Monbouquette traveled the country over the course of 2.5 months, visiting local food operations in mostly urban settings.  It was pretty interesting and their passion has spilled over into Omaha with projects like the Benson Community Garden and Big Muddy Urban Farm.  The filmmakers were there to answer questions afterward, too.  That’s when I asked how urban farm projects financially support their operations.  That’s when one of them said (my notes don’t say who) it is one of the largest questions and biggest challenges.  Interesting look into a smaller portion of the agriculture industry, if you ask me.

That same night, I went on to see the short block of Nebraska documentaries (I was staying up late! – not really) It featured:

Dive in Fearlessly, directed by John Dowd
A Goldfish Documentary, directed by Steve Snell, Elizabeth Stehling
Master Debaters, directed by James Crotty
Tokimane, directed by John O’Keefe
Backstage Confidential, directed by Dave Weiss

“Dive in Fearlessly” is so Omaha – I LOVE it! You can watch it here. The goldfish documentary answered the question of how to transport a goldfish across the country – in case you’ve ever wondered. It was clever and resulted in a marketable invention. “Master Debaters” made me wish I’d done more in high school.  “Tokimane” was beautiful – watch the trailer. The name means something like, lets hold each other hand-in-hand. “Backstage Confidential” was about the business of rock and roll. In my notes I wrote, “the dirty side of concert shows.” I think I wrote that because the film showed footage of the aftermath of a Slipknot concert.  The concert hall was a disgusting mess.

The next film festival night I went to the third short block.  It was full of great stuff!!

The Bravest, the Boldest, directed by Moon Molson
The Other Sister, directed by Nicholas Bouier
I Do, directed by Patrick Rea
Afronauts, directed by Frances Bodomo
Pop Tarts, directed by Kendal Sinn (watch it on Vimeo)
Paper People, directed by Andrew Kightlinger (watch the trailer)
Good Conduct, directed by Patrick Rea
The Hero Pose, Micha Jakupcak

There was SO much emotion packed into this 91 minute block of eight films.  It was like a roller coaster. I loved all of them. I still want to know what the son said to the father in jail in “Good Conduct.” The audience also got to talk to some of the filmmakers for these films. The questions ranged from tech used to finding the funding for such projects. One filmmaker called it the most frustrating part.

The next ride of emotions was with the Nebraska dramas short film block right after that.

Sandbox Memories, directed by Travis Enck, Alexis Dvorak
Mens Rea, directed by Kreg Gilson
Black Lines, directed by Mike Johnson
Slipaway, directed by Kevin Burns (watch it on Vimeo)
For Worse, directed by Jake Rains
Listen, directed by Elias Ginsberg, Costen Bishop
The Pursuit of Happiness, directed by Aliza Brugger
Hedron, directed by Connor Huggett (watch the trailer)

Filmmakers were also taking questions afterward.  Isn’t that great?

Saturday of the film festival featured a Writer’s Theater.  It was a cool opportunity to hear six different short screenplays and portions of nine different feature screenplays read out loud with actors.  My starred note from the day says, “Readings really highlight the difference between dialogue and action driven scripts.” Ponder that for a moment. 🙂

And then, on top of compelling short films and interesting movies, there were seminars with Leslie Dixon and Steve Faber. “Have a damn premise and tell a story,” Dixon said, along with tips to keep people engaged and remembering to keep the reader turning the page.

And then, Steve Faber took the stage.

I apologize now for my bad spelling while tweeting. Faber made some enlightening comments about the future of financing films. He predicted the studio system would not exist in five years and independent film financiers were the future.

“Get up and write.” I have darkly underlined in my notes. Faber also advised against blurting out your idea for a projects. Idea theft is rampant he said.

“I think everyone in their own way love writing. It’s a way of saying I’m alive,” Faber said. He was so full of good little tips.  I get re-energized just reading over my notes!

The last day of the film festival started off with another block of short films.

Lay Over, directed by Jordan Hayes
Pillowcase, directed by David Lombroso
Emit, directed by JS MayankThe Immaculate Reception, directed by Charlotte Glynn (watch the trailer)
Mr. Invisible, directed by Greg Ash (watch the trailer)
Distance, directed by Aimee Long

My film festival experience was topped off with the special screening of “Trunk’D” and yet another opportunity to interact with the filmmaker!

To how these and how other films did in the awards, click here. After all that, I was excited for more and have been volunteering my expertise in social media with the great group that is responsible for those few days of joy.

So there’s only six months until we get to do it again!  Follow the Omaha Film Festival on Twitter and Facebook.

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