Born and raised in Maine, Bill McLean never considered shooting his film, Scooter McGruder, anywhere else. Even the bright lights of Hollywood were easy for the actor and filmmaker to ignore. ”I just love living out here more,” says McLean. ”It’s prettier, it’s more friendly and there are so may places you can film.”
Scooter McGruder, the first film of McLean’s company, Freight Train Films, claimed the Best Feature Film People’s Choice Award at the Lewiston Auburn Film Festival in Maine earlier this month and is slated for a public red carpet debut at Portland’s Nickelodeon Theatre on May 12. Fresh off the success of his farce comedy, McLean is ready to start shooting more films, right here in New England.
With three new scripts ready to film, McLean plans to begin production on either Red Shirt, a horror film or The Cloning, a science fiction film, as early as this summer. Scooter McGruder, starring, written by and produced by McLean, was the 20-year acting veteran’s very first attempt at screenwriting.
“There just doesn’t seem to be many parts for men between 30 and 50, and I’m in that age bracket,” says McLean. ”So I decided to write a script with people in my age range, just to start.”
Three years after beginning to write his first film, McLean has now completed seven scripts and intends on using his films to bring jobs to New England. Scooter McGruder had 43 speaking roles, which caused many scheduling conflicts, but created great jobs for local actors.
“The economy sucks right now,” says McLean. ”So anyway I can get someone a job, I’m doing my part.”
McLean is sure to offer encouraging words to any aspiring actor or filmmaker looking to make their way in New England. ”There’s no reason to go anywhere else,” McLean assures New Englanders. ”There’s always something going on. It doesn’t matter if it is big or small.”
The authority on Maine’s film industry, according to McLean, is John Seymore of The Maine Studios. Seymore is a crucial part of McLean’s production and is working hard to get films made in New England. ”If you are looking for auditions or if you want to submit a script, he is the man to talk to,” says McLean.
McLean encourages any New Englander interested in film to check the Freight Train films website for opportunities on his upcoming films. He wants to continue to show the region that great films can be made right here.
“Just give me five years,” says McLean. ”I fully plan on blowing this market wide open.”
What better way to showcase independent filmmakers, artists, musicians, and entertainers than during the event that celebrates the beginning of the American Revolution? A four-day film festival will take place during the commemoration of the Battle of Bunker Hill to celebrate Boston’s Independent Spirit!
The Boston Fame Fest will run June 16th through the 19th. Films will be screened at multiple locations along Boston’s Freedom Trail including Faneuil Hall, the Bunker Hill Monument and Boston’s waterfront. Other events will include art exhibits, live music, comedians and other entertainment.
The festival is currently calling for entries, all genres accepted! Filmmakers are encouraged to submit any features, documentaries, shorts and videos produced after January 1, 2007. Detailed submission information can be found at the event’s Facebook site.
One of the best and most respected film festivals in New England, the Independent Film Festival of Boston (IFF Boston) recently announced its slate of upcoming films that will be shown between April 27-May 4, 2011. The festival will take place at theaters in and around the Boston area.
This year documentaries play a prominent role in the festival. Not only does the festival open for the first time with a documentary, it also closes with one. Being Elmo, which follows Kevin Clash‘s story of how he ended up working for his idol JIm Henson and the voice behind Sesame Street‘s Elmo, will kick off the festival at the Somerville Theatre, with the director, Constance Marks, Kevin Clash and Elmo being in attendance, while Conan O’Brien Can’t Stop, a documentary chronicling the talk show host’s year after being fired from “The Tonight Show” will close the week at the Coolidge Corner Theatre in O’Brien’s hometown of Brookline, MA.
Other prominent docs showing at throughout the festival are Man on Wire director James Marsh‘s new film Project Nim, the world premiere of Peter Sasowsky‘s Heaven + Earth + Joe Davis about MIT’s resident “free spirit” and the Sundance favorite Page One: A Year Inside the New York Times. Viewers can also catch Boston filmmaker Rudy Hypolite‘s film about Roxbury’s Madison High School basketball team and their coach in Push Madison vs. Madison and several musical documentaries including Who took the Bomp?: Le Tigre on Tour, Color Me Obsessed: a Film about the Replacements and Don Arogtt‘s Last Days Here.
Other films worth checking out at the festival are Michael Winterbottom‘s British comedy The Trip, starring Steve Coogan, Miranda July‘s latest feature, The Future, the co-world premiere of John Henry Summerour‘s southern gothic drama, Sahkanaga, and Larysa Kondracki‘s true-life drama The Whistleblower starring Rachel Weisz, Vanessa Redgrave, Monica Bellucci and David Strathairn.
Along with all of these films and more, there will be several free and open to the public panel discussions at the Somerville Theater and the Massachusetts College of Art. These include “Following the Band: Docs that Rock,” “Navigating the Film Festival Circuit” and “When Does a Story Becme a Film?: From Idea to Documentary.”
Now in its fourth year, Salem Film Fest is becoming a leading all-documentary film festival in the heart of Massachusetts. Running from Friday, March 4 through Thursday, March 10, the festival showcases over 30 films, a Student Film competition and the 2011 Oscar-nominated Short Documentaries.
Besides presenting 30 great documentaries, Salem Film Fest will also have family friendly screenings, high school student film showcases, and filmmaker discussions known as “Filmmaker Dialogue,” where panels of filmmakers will answer questions about making your first documentary and their experience in documenting artists. Even if you are an avid doc enthusiast with no plans on making one of your own, you’ll still have the opportunity to meet and hear filmmakers from more than half of the festival’s documentaries who will be available to discuss their films at Salem Film Fest.
Some of the films to look forward to are the opening night film about a New York Times photographer, Bill Cunningham New York, the kids friendly doc, Play Again, and a chronicle of filmmaking in a Taliban controlled area, The Miscreants of Taliwood.
With the kickoff of Sundance, there begins another year of film festivals. While festival season doesn’t really pick up until late spring, there are plenty of entry deadlines that will approach before you know it. For your own sanity and wallet, it’s always better to submit earlier than later, so here are some competitions with upcoming deadlines to look out for.
First up: The Boston Cinema Census, an annual showcase at the famous Brattle Theatre of the most interesting and innovative works produced by local emerging filmmakers. To qualify, films must have been shot wholly or partially in New England, or have New England residents on its crew. Corporate, industrial films or PSAs do not qualify. The winner gets their film shown at the Brattle Theatre, so although there is no monetary compensation, unlike the other competitions listed, there is no entry fee. The deadline to submit through Withoutabox is February 15, 2011, so hurry!
Although the early deadline for the Rhode Island International Film Festival has passed, the regular deadline is still far ahead. RIIFF, which we have had the pleasure of attending, is one of the few film festivals in the world where winning short films can qualify for the Academy Award. If you think your short has what it takes to qualify for an Oscar or just needs to be seen in New England, make sure to submit by May 15 through Withoutabox to get the cheaper pricing options for submission.
For all of you screenwriters, The Maine Studio’s second annual Scriptsation call for entries began on January 16 and will take digital copies of your teleplay, feature or short film script. The winner of Best Overall Script will receive $500 and a consultation for production by The Maine Studios. Make sure to submit through their site by May 31 for the entry fee of $30.
The annual Boston Film Festival, known for attracting star filmmakers, has also started accepting entries for their fall festival. Submissions can be done through Withoutabox by June 11 or an application is available on their website.
Alternatively, for those interested in having some prestige to posting your film online rather than being shown in a theater or facing the financial burdens of entry fees, The Quarterlife Quarterly, a new online publication, is now taking submissions. The Quarterlife Quarterly will also accept fiction and nonfiction writing, music, photo essays and other projects of artistic merit, so if you have other side projects besides your films, it provides a perfect opportunity to showcase your other talents. Submissions are due by February 22 and can be sent to [email protected]
One more suggestion to those who make shorts on a more international scale, the 8th “Concours de Courts” is accepting short films under 22 minutes. Other entry requirements for this fun French film festival dedicated to shorts are that films must either be silent or have french subtitles (it being a French festival and all…). It does not cost anything to enter on their site, as long as short films are postmarked by Valentine’s Day, February 14th; so you still have time to hit that Google Translate button and take advantage of having an international audience see your creation!
Don’t forget that there are plenty of other festivals and competitions out there that are seeking submissions. If you would like a complete list of all 54 festivals within New England, make sure to check out our Film Festivals page and keep an eye out on each festival’s homepage for submission deadlines.
Thanks to the Lowell Film Collaborative, the city of Lowell hosted the Disposable Film Festival (DFF) for the first time on October 19 at the Lowell National Historical Park Visitor Center Theater. The third stop on its East Coast tour, DFF started in San Francisco and “celebrates the artistic potential of disposable video,” meaning media made from cell phones, web cams, digital and still cameras, and one-time-use digital video cameras. The festival travels across North America and was started with the intention of providing an outlet for filmmakers with visions that don’t necessarily fit onto 35mm film or high end digital cameras.
As part of their Best of the Fest program, DFF showed their Grand Prize winner Lucia by Cristobal Leon, Niles Atallah and Joaquin Cocina, My Fantastic Movie by Daniel Eskils, Hair and Diamonds by Christopher McManus and Orson Whales by Alex Itin among others. There was also a Q&A following the event with local filmmakers who answered questions about disposable filmmaking. One of these filmmakers included Jim Higgins, a Lowell resident who specializes in making stop motion short films. Higgins works with the Cambodian community, who have a huge presence in Lowell and who are already making “disposable films.” Submission for the 2011 Disposable Film Festival is now open.
In addition to bringing more exposure to those using disposable film, the Lowell FIlm Collaborative hoped this event would generate enough excitement to launch the Merrimack Valley’s own version of DFF in fall 2011. Lowell Film Collaborative Co-founder Brett Cromwell insists that the Merrimack Valley is the perfect place to host such an event. “With so many creative people and a thriving student population in the area, we’re certain this sort of filmmaking is already happening. All we need to do is generate interest and give the community the chance to share their talents. I envision Lowell being a permanent home to an annual, regional Tiny Technology Film Fest.” In fact, Suzzanne and Brett Cromwell’s main reason for bringing DFF to Lowell was to bring overall awareness to the film and arts community in Lowell because although there is a big visual arts presence in the city, there are still not enough outlets for filmmakers.
Up next for the Lowell Film Collaborative is a partnership with the Arts League of Lowell. Together, they will showcase a series of films that include Lost in La Mancha and Who Does She Think She Is. The Lowell Film Collaborative is also reaching out to a lot of different ethnic and age groups in order to use film to bridge the gap in the community. They are working with the large Cambodian community in Lowell, which is the second largest in the US, to connect with them through visual arts.
To get involved and learn more about the Lowell Film Collaborative, make sure to check out their site. Details on DFF and examples of “disposable film” can be found at the Disposable Film Festival site. To keep up with all of the festivals in New England, check out our festivals page.
Although it may seem as though most New England film events happen in Massachusetts and Connecticut, this upcoming festival takes place in Maine and is one of the best for documentaries. The Camden International FIlm Festival (CIFF), running from September 30-October 3, specializes in international documentary films and takes place in Camden, Rockland and Rockport, Maine.
Started in 2005, CIFF was started with the intention of filling the void of a New England film festival dedicated solely to documentary filmmaking. Now in its sixth year, the festival hosts several New England, East Coast and National Premieres of many major international documentaries.
Documentaries to watch include the US premiere of David Wants to Fly, about what happens when a filmmaker gets to meet his idol, David Lynch, Family Affair which chronicles a man who revisits his family who’s lives were shattered when the man accidentally shoots his sister in the leg and the work in progress feature Heaven and Earth and Joe Davis about a peg-legged motorcycle mechanic who uses his imagination to explore science. For those who have yet to see it, New England festival favorite Do It Again, about a Boston Globe’s music critic’s quest to reunite the Kinks, will also be screening.
Along with the screening of the almost fifty features and shorts, CIFF also hosts discussions with directors and producers, the Points North Documentary Film Forum, musical concerts, interactive and video art installations, parties and panels.
Mainiacs should rejoice in CIFF’s “Made in Maine Showcase” featuring what else but docs all about Maine! Standouts include Bearwalker of the North Woods about a scientist studying the North American Black Bear and Millinocket, Rockland and Portland: A Snapshot of Life in Three Distinct Maine Communities, where the evolution of those Maine communities are explored.
One of the best features of CIFF is the Points North Documentary Film Forum. It gives New England documentary filmmakers the opportunity to meet key industry representatives through panels and intimate pitching sessions. Some of this year’s panels include “The View From the Top,” where festival programmers, funders and executives talk about their experience in documentary filmmaking and the future of the medium, “ITVS Breakout Session,” which gives producers advice on how to make their projects more competitive when applying to Independent Television Service, the single biggest funder of independent documentaries on television and a “Filmaker Pitching Session,” where six filmmakers get the chance to pitch their idea and receive critical feedback on their projects in development.
Some of the panelists for the Points North Film Forum include Richard Saiz, Senior Programming Manager for ITVS, Ryan Harrington, Director of Documentary Programs at the Tribeca Film Instute, Sam Anthony a producer at BBC and Andrea Meditch, the producer of Man on Wire, Encounters at the End of the World, and In the Shadow of the Moon.
Those interested in attending the festival can buy individual tickets for $8.50 at the screening venues before showtime. For the Points North Forum, which runs during the festival, tickets for each day of the forum are $15.
Don’t miss the last day of the festival and for more info on upcoming festivals, be sure to check out our film festivals page.
From October 3rd-10th, the Coolidge Corner Theater, Somerville Theater, and Performing Arts Connection in Sudbury, Mass., will play host to a new festival called the Filmshift Festival. Filmshift will be encouraging interest the intrinsic role small businesses and local business owners play in the creation of films. The festival will show over 20 films falling into the categories of environmental/local issues, drama, comedy, horror, animated, and documentary.
Beneficiaries of the festival are Christopher’s Haven and MetroWest Family Theater. Christopher’s Haven provides low-cost housing to the families of children receiving cancer treatment in Boston. MetroWest devotes itself running a community theater that casts roles blind to gender, race or disability. Filmshift will donate 20% of their ticket sales to these non-profits.
Making up the panel are some notable figures in film, including several award winners, a Boston University professor, a Creative Executive of Cartoon Network, and an Emmy nominated filmmaker.
Filmshift was founded by multiple award winning filmmaker Jeremy Jed Hammel. He has worked on “ER”, Sundance favorite “Next Stop, Wonderland” which was filmed in Boston, and the Best Comic-Related Film from Comic Con 2010, The Legacy. “Since film crews began popping up more frequently in the Commonwealth, so did discussions about the economic impact movies would bring to bear, locally,” said Filmshift director and founder Jeremy Jed Hammel. “The fact is, when it comes to the towns we work and live in, there is no more meaningful impact than the filmmaker who hires locally and hires small. So, we’ve designed FilmShift to highlight those who exemplify this practice.”
For a complete list of films visit www.Filmshift.org.
For the second year in a row NewEnglandFilm.com is hosting an online film festival of local short films. In an era where everything is going digital, from newspapers to books to magazines, NewEnglandFilm.com is bringing the film festival experience online as well. Viewers can watch the 19 selected short films in the comfort of their own homes from September 1st through October 15th, 2010. Genres include animation, comedy, documentary, drama and experimental.
NewEnglandFilm.com is a website and magazine dedicated to serving as a comprehensive resources for all things film related. Information on local films, tax permits, job postings and social networking are just a few of the tools the organization has to offer, as well as the digital film festival it has put on for the past two years.
All of the films are made by local directors and previously screened at local film festivals including, but not limited to, the Rhode Island International Film Festival, Woods Hole Film Festival, and the Maine International Film Festival. The best thing about this type of screening is that anyone can attend, and it’s free! Just register on their website to access the videos, synopsis of each film, and rate and comment the films you like best.
Have a documentary that showcases social or humanitarian issues? Healthy Living Magazine is giving a voice to the genre by sponsoring the Healthy Living Magazine Film Festival this Fall. Submissions will be accepted up to October 15th. Filmmakers can submit either a feature, documentary, short or music video relevant to any humanitarian issues.
Healthy Living Magazine was created to help empower readers to start and maintain healthy lifestyles and be conscious of their over-all well being. Aside from their publication and Film Festival, HLM also has a radio segment and puts on expos and seminars.
The 3rd annual HLM Film Festival will debut selected submissions on November 13th Duxbury, Ma. The early (and cheapest) deadline is September 15th for only $35. The standard deadline is until September 30th for $60 and late submissions until October 15th will cost $70.
For scheduling information, visit the magazine’s website.
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