FFOCOL and the Ohio Art League Shorts Program

If you somehow haven’t heard yet, the first annual Film Festival of Columbus (FFOCOL, pronounced FOCAL, for short) launched yesterday. We were thrilled to sponsor an event that celebratedColumbus and indie filmmakers alike.

Part of our sponsorship included space at the festival to demo our awesome video gear at the Gateway Film Center. If you didn’t know we’re the leading provider of video equipment and gear in the region, then we’re here to let you know. So, videographers and filmmakers, visit us at the Gateway today, 1 to 8 PM, and check out what we’ve got to offer.

The other part of our sponsorship was present the Ohio Art League Shorts Program, which features short stories fromOhio filmmakers. We knew we needed to be a part of this event from the moment we heard about it. But we didn’t want to stop at just sponsoring the films; we wanted to learn more about the filmmakers. We sent some of the filmmakers questions and they were gracious enough in their busy schedules to get back to us.

Andrew Ina, Pastime

Tell us a little about Pastime. What’s it about? Where did the idea come from?

“Pastime” is the story of two brothers facing the challenges of growing up in a post-oil society. Due to ongoing power outages, they’ve lost contact with their mother who has left them in the care of the distant relative. As we briefly look through this window we realize that even in a world with scarce resources, it’s not material things that people long for. They seek genuine human connection.

They idea stems from my fascination with our accelerated consumption of natural resources. I tried to create a narrative that shows the effects of this consumption and my interpretation of how our daily lives will change. But, it’s not a negative outlook. I want to show that a simpler way of living may not be so bad.

What are some of the challenges you faced as an independent filmmaker while making this film?

The main challenge of this film was to try to create a very specific setting without a whole lot of funding. I was trying to create a world in which cars were no longer the primary mode of transportation, people live by candle light and lanterns, we have returned to the land to grow and catch food again. It was tricky trying to portray this world while being surrounded by cars, lights, and screens. It is also what made the process so much fun, overcoming that challenge.

What does being an “Ohio filmmaker” mean to you? Is it just that you’re from Ohio, or is there more to it than that?

I grew up inOhio. My family lives inOhio. I enjoy creating inOhio. There is a strong nucleus of artists and filmmakers who are choosing to stay in here. We are growing, evolving very quickly, and I’m excited to be a part of it.

Jennifer Reeder, Seven Songs about Thunder

Tell us a little about Seven Songs about Thunder. What’s it about? Where did the idea come from?

When a young woman with remarkable and hilarious coping skills finds the dead body of a teenage girl in the woods she is forced to reconcile her greatest fear—her fantastically failing life. This is a dark comedy about a mother, a daughter, a liar and her therapist.

SSAT is adapted from an original feature length script called Forevering and is a companion to two other shorts—Tears Cannot Restore Her: Therefore, I weep and And I Will Rise If Only to Hold You Down.

What are some of the challenges you faced as an independent filmmaker while making this film?

Funding is always a challenge. But I have managed to surround myself with very resourceful collaborators. We can make a film, which was done very cheaply, look very expensive. Independent Film making is also about creativity and experimentation with the narrative form. Cultural contributions are just as important as commercial success.

What does being an “Ohio filmmaker” mean to you? Is it just that you’re from Ohio, or is there more to it than that?

I am entirely inspired byOhioas a location for most of my films. The landscape and the emotional texture are present in every frame. The land is flat and the people are blunt—this is the content of my work.

Corey Aumiller, Magnum Opus

Tell us a little about Magnum Opus. What’s it about? Where did the idea come from?

Simply put, Magnum Opus is a story about two people whose lives are changed because of a guitar. Ultimately it is about mortality, fragility, human interactions, and tender moments. It’s about hitting rock bottom and finding some reason to keep going. The characters are an aging folk musician whose senses are failing him – he can’t play guitar anymore, he can’t see to read, all he can taste is mayonnaise. He starts throwing out all the things that brought him joy in life, his books, his instruments. Meanwhile, a young woman checks out of rehab and moves into the same apartment building as the old man with nothing but the clothes on her back. She finds all of his discarded things at the dumpster and starts collecting them, trying to assemble an identity of her own while becoming fascinated by the stranger who is tossing away his life. She teaches herself how to play the guitar which ultimately brings hope to both of them. The idea came to me after meeting an amazing folk musician named Fred Bailey whose health was deteriorating. I was also helping a friend kick a nasty addiction at the time. The characters in the story aren’t the same as these people, but the circumstances certainly helped me create a compelling narrative. 

What are some of the challenges you faced as an independent filmmaker while making this film?

Money and time. Working full time is a kick in the stomach for anyone who wants to dedicate themselves to creating art. I love what I do for a living (I’m a high school art teacher) and I know I make a difference, but after a day of giving my energy and my heart to 140 kids, it’s hard to go home and give it to my wife and my friends and then go on set and give it all to the project. There aren’t enough hours in the day to be everything I want to be, so striking a balance was and is a challenge. Money complicates things too, because I take my work very seriously but I have nothing that resembles a real film budget. I rely on friends and family to play every production role. In a way, these challenges make me a more innovative problem solver… for example, I wanted the musician’s room to portray a lifetime of hoarding, filled with thousands of books and records and whiskey bottles. I price-shopped thrift store books and it was going to cost something like $600 to get as many as I needed. I ended up borrowing my buddy’s pickup truck, parking behind a used bookstore and raiding their recycling dumpster. I got kicked out of three different lots that way, but each time they let me keep the loot. Three friends helped me lug hundreds of pounds of cheap paperbacks into a second story apartment for the shoot, then back out when we were done (I returned all the books to the dumpsters because the proceeds go to charity). Another example was the apartment itself; I needed two rooms that looked like they were in one building. A friend put me in contact with his landlord who gave me a room rent-free for a week. We had to make one space look like two distinctly different ones. Because I was working with unpaid actors, we had to work around their schedules which meant we couldn’t just shoot all of his scenes, then all of hers… we had to re-arrange everything in that room, including the books, when we shot the girl’s scenes, and then move it all back for the man’s scenes. It was a nightmare at the time but it makes me smile now.

What does being an “Ohio filmmaker” mean to you? Is it just that you’re from Ohio, or is there more to it than that?

I feel like the Midwest is a talent-mill; it churns out some of the most thoughtful media makers in the country… the problem is, the industry plucks everyone away and scatters them to the coasts. I used to feel like growing up as a relatively privileged, uncultured kid in the suburbs made me boring, and that whatever voice I had developed as a result of that upbringing would never resonate with a larger audience. But I’ve traveled a lot and seen how similar people actually are. I loveOhio. I love the childhood I had. I’ve also seen how audiences connect with my work. I’ve been told by folks that they admire what I’m doing. Now I realize that my voice is all I have and if I don’t embrace it, it’ll stay silent. That simply isn’t an option.

Midwest Photo

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