Filmslang 2013: Short Film Night highlights Kentucky filmmakers

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Lexington doesn’t yet have a fullscale Film Festival to call its own, but Filmslang (part of WRFL’s annual Boomslang festival) presents a full slate every Fall.

Filmslang programming, organized by The Lexington Film League and the Lexington Public Library, is scheduled for the week leading up to Boomslang, from September 13-17, 2013 and includes a local music video showcase; a short film night at Natasha’s; the Sundance Film Festival award-winning narrative feature “Computer Chess;” the feature-length documentary “Adjust Your Tracking: The Untold Story of the VHS Collector;” the 30-minute sci-fi short film “What is a Group?” by musician Ian Svenonius (Nation of Ulysses, The Make-Up, Chain & the Gang); and a “Pecha Kucha” style meet-up for the local film community.

Lexington does have a rich history of filmmaking, from the days of 100 Proof up through KET’s ongoing Reel Visions series, and  more recent efforts last year like Hitting the Cycle and Pleased to Meet Me. Last winter’s Short Film night, which highlighted local films, was a sold-out affair.

Local filmmaker Justin Hannah, who organized Lexington’s first Short Film Night, as well as the upcoming sequel on September 16, says, “The response we had to the last Short Film Night made me realize that there’s a real interest in this area in films and filmmaking, and the success of events like the Harry Dean Stanton Fest and Bruce Barnett’s Red River Moon premiere just confirms it.”

In curating the followup, he says his goal was for the lineup “to be as eclectic as possible, and run the gamut from comedy to suspense to artistic drama to music video. Next time I’d like to get a short documentary in there.”

Of the roster of six local films, his will be the only music video. He filmed the band, All the Little Pieces, outdoors, at Jacobson Park and an abandoned fishing shack in Berry, Kentucky. He says, I felt a really strong connection to ‘Sol Melodiam.’ I love the wistful, airy mood of the song and the almost-Buddhist quality in the lyrics. These guys are super talented, especially considering the singer/songwriter is only 12 years old (I think she’s some kind of musical prodigy or something).”

Jeremy Midkiff (an alum of the first short film night), does double-duty this time around. He plays the obsessive main character in Thom Southerland’s West of Rome, and he and Jonathan Moore continue their ongoing ballads of Rob and Ova with Second Chances. He admits, ” I would like to continue doing all of the aspects (writing, directing, acting, editing), but hopefully not all in the same movie the way I am in the feature we are making. It is just physically and mentally draining to have six different jobs on a feature and to also have a real job too.”  In Hollywood, everybody wants to direct, but screenplays and editing remain Midkiff’s first loves. He says, “I would love to find a producer/director to work with on all of my stories and bring them to life.”

Antonio Pantoja’s Hand Covers Bruise is a dark six-minute thriller, shot in one day, that bears a slight visual resemblance to the stark Winter’s Bone. A no-budget effort, he says they spent “$0″ outside of food for the cast and crew. Inspired by French horror directors, he says, “They have a much different vision than we do here in America. They take big chances and in many cases they are of the opinion that not every single thing needs to be explained. In America, we try so hard to figure out how it will end without giving the actual film any thought in real-time or what is going on right at that moment. We always fast forward our brains to the end to try to figure it out.”

For something completely different, Louisville filmmaker William Wallace offers Monkey Mocha Fantastique, a 15-minute indie-go-go funded take on boy-loses-girl-to-rival-barista/ boy tries to win girl back with his latte-art finesse in a latte art competition. Wallace says he’s “drawn to quirky character study films.” He and writer Timothy Strader were baristas at Sunergos Coffee (Strader worked there until recently when he moved to NYC to pursue writing as a career) and became natural collaborators. Wallace clarifies, “There was no intent on mocking coffee art but the idea of a guy winning his girl back with latte skills seemed hilarious.” He says, “Latte art is a real subculture that has grown a lot amongst Louisville baristas.There are several baristas who frequently travel across the country to compete.”

Louisville filmmaker Jon Maynard hasn’t seen World War Z, but his zombie caper set in a nursing home draws on a similar premise: the undead have no interest in the Nearly Dead. It was selected for the Fright Night Film Festival, World Independent Film Expo (it won best Comedy), Scarefest, Unscripted: An Independent Film Experience, and the Hot Springs Film Festival. He couldn’t find a nursing home for the location shoot, so a local funeral home stood in. “When we called to ask permission we had a very interesting conversation. It was fun to ask ‘Hey, can we shoot our zombie movie in your funeral home?’ They got a kick out of it. The owners were on set during most of the shooting. They were astounded at the amount of work it took to make a short film. They really ended up as our biggest fans.” A Berea College grad with a master’s from U of L, he says he probably wouldn’t opt for film school even if he returned to school. “Technology has changed dramatically since I got involved in filmmaking. The availability of affordable equipment and software has allowed me to do much more than I ever dreamed.”

Hannah says, “I now meet people all the time who are working on films, and I’ve had the opportunity to help with a few of them this summer. And I think groups like the Lexington Film League, and events like Filmslang and our Short Film Night, help to cultivate that.”

The Short Film Night 2 is scheduled for Monday, September 16 at Natasha’s on Esplanade.

This article appears on page 11 of the September 12, 2013 print edition of Ace.

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