Indie flicks gain mass attention

Ask any privileged Hollywood filmmaker and they’ll tell you about the many hardships endured in making a movie. Add to that the absence of Hollywood funding and you have a hazy idea of the will it takes to finish an independent film.

Indie culture seekers and filmmakers alike will compare notes on Friday as the Education Channel sponsors the 10th Annual Independents’ Film Festival, hosted at the highlight of Tampa’s historic district, Tampa Theatre.

The event began as a salute to local filmmakers, but Education Channel’s marketing director Laura Tierney said the World Wide Web has raised this cultural meeting of Tampa residents to a much higher level.

A Taiwanese artist took the WOW award, a testament to how far the festival, originally conceived by an Education Channel intern in 1993, has come.

“It started small, but this year we have about 130 submissions,” Tierney said.

Although the film didn’t make the final honors list, USF’s 2003 Spectrum class film, Bern’s Steakhouse: Experiencing a Legend was aired on the Education Channel over the summer. The film was produced by USF alumna Amanda Collins.

“We didn’t get top honors, but the sense of accomplishment was in actually finishing something,” Collins said.

She quickly stressed the importance of the team effort involved. “It’s not just my film,” she said.

There are two types of filmmakers at this festival; the student and the independent professional.

Most of Florida’s colleges have been represented in student submissions, usually in the form of smaller projects such as short films, documentaries, animations and other experimental vignettes. The reels roll on these features at 7 p.m.

The independent professionals dominate the longer, more involved features starting at 10:30 p.m. and ending past midnight. All pieces shown at the Independents’ Film Festival are honored for “making it;” they’ve been judged by a panel as “The Best of the Best.”

Friday will be a great opportunity for USF students to experience filmmaking on a more basic, rooted level. Some of the films shown are said to offer sophisticated stories that are all too difficult to come by in Hollywood.

Any student interested in the arts can see what their contemporaries are achieving in the film medium, which encompasses sound, storytelling, acting and the visual arts.

Collins will be there with some of her filmmaking cohorts, curious about what others in her position bring to the art.

The following Saturday at 10:30 a.m., there is an opportunity for the public to “Meet the Makers,” a follow-up event that will be held at the Tampa Museum of Art, a few blocks west of Tampa Theatre.

Attendees will be able to meet with a panel of winners from the festival and discuss the challenge of getting their films off the ground.

Saturday morning will be moderated by the Weekly Planet’s film critic Lance Goldenburg.

Orson Welles said in making Citizen Kane that art was a mere two percent of his effort, while the rest was spent running around, managing the project to ensure its survival. Because a movie encompasses so many art forms, it is more of a challenge to make a film that succeeds on every level.

Independent filmmakers often find ingenuity equal to the resources they lack.

When asked what kind of movie she would make if she had the necessary resources, Collins said she’d like to do a documentary on something no one else had done.

“Or I’d do a hugely budgeted Hollywood film where things explode and everyone dies,” she added.