I'm retroactively (for 2009) and proactively (for 2010) spreading the word about the Phantoscope Film Festival that just concluded its third year here in Richmond at the Art Museum. It's an event that is just absolutely phenomenal to be happening right here in town, but that is sadly under-promoted and under-appreciated locally.
Every year, high school students around Indiana are encouraged to submit their films for judging and showing at the festival. The top ten or so films are selected by a panel of judges, and then shown at the screening night (which was tonight). Before the screening is a panel discussion with professional filmmakers and those involved in the film industry.
The event has gotten better and better every year. Tonight there was a great panel that included Zack Parker (long-time filmmaker from Richmond who has produced two feature films), the Herbert brothers (who created a Superbowl commercial that recently won $1 million in a contest!), Erin Newell (the director of the statewide film initiative Film Indiana), and Krista Hoffmann-Longtin (who has been involved in Indiana film stuff for some time now). The quality of the films were a clear step above last year's submissions, with better sound production, plots, directing and photography all around. There were three documentaries and an animated short! Horror, comedy, romance and more! Even the format of the evening was more energizing, with Oscars-like introduction and award presentation, and a great MC in Scott Tucker. Well done, all for free.
Again, I'm not sure why the auditorium wasn't packed. Sadly, there were no submissions from Richmond students that were screened, so perhaps we're a bit behind in encouraging our young folks to consider filmmaking for fun, inspiration, or even a career. I'm hopeful that we'll do that and more, encouraging support for this artform in non-highschool settings too (e.g. have a 48-hour film project here).
Hopefully more people will become aware of this refreshing and impressive burst of creativity on display, and ask what we can to do take better advantage of it in our community. If you're at all interested in the creative arts and filmmaking in particular, I hope you'll consider coming next year.