(Photo: Courtesy of NoCoast Artists )
as originally posted on 'The Coloradoan' by Stacy Nick Sept 10th 2014
Small film festivals and locally produced movies like "Whensday" — and its soon-to-be shot follow-up — show that Fort Collins is ready for its closeup, say local filmmakers.
The landscape of film in Fort Collins is definitely changing, according to filmmaker and Fort Collins Horror Film Festival co-organizer Andrew Schneider.
A member of the Fort Collins film production company NoCoast Artists, Schneider knows a little something about making movies on the cheap. NoCoast's debut feature film "Whensday" was made for $3,000 using local actors and community members and locations on loan from surrounding businesses.
Thanks to the availability of lower-cost, higher-quality film-making equipment, filmmakers don't need to be tied to New York and Los Angeles to create their masterpieces, Schneider said, adding: "Now they can load up their pickup truck with all the tools they need to make their fully produced film."
Businesses and sponsors are beginning to sign on to projects like "Whensday" because they realize that it benefits them to be associated with these projects, Schneider said. But it wasn't easy.
"We had to knock on a lot of doors to generate that kind of excitement," he said.
Up next for NoCoast is a post-apocalyptic Western musical, which Schneider is careful to point out is not a musical with Western-style music but a Western film with music.
While the script is still being penned, the "Whensday" follow-up looks at Fort Collins' future after fracking.
"Our process on 'Whensday' was outside the box — we improvised a lot of it and many of the cast were untrained actors," Schneider said. The new, yet-to-be-titled film — due out in fall 2016 — will feature more pre- and post-production, including more visual effects, he added.
Seven years ago, the TriMedia Festival began with big names and big goals.
In 2013, after struggling to get financial support, the festival — which highlighted independent film, theater and television — went on hiatus. But in 2014, organizers said they simply couldn't keep the project afloat.
"It's gone to that great venue in the sky," said former TriMedia co-producer Carol Van Natta.
Ticket sales were strong and the festival brought in high-caliber films and stars, Van Natta said. The final festival in 2012 brought in the independent film "The Citizen" along with its star, "Princess Bride" actor Cary Elwes. But the high cost of putting on the festival — averaging around $100,000 a year — combined with the difficulty in obtaining enough grants and sponsorships, was what sunk it, Van Natta said.
"Without the financial support, it just wasn't a viable thing," she said. "We decided rather than go into debt, we would rather just close and say it's been a good run and hope that someone takes up the gauntlet."
That's where Fort Collins independent movie theater Lyric Cinema Cafe comes in. Since its opening in 2007, the theater has supported local filmmakers, creating special screening events and hosting film festivals, including this weekend's Choice City Film Festival and the Fort Collins Horror Film Festival, which occurs in the spring.
While the odds of a filmmaker getting a film distributor from a film festival are pretty slim, Schneider said filmmakers now just want to connect with an audience.
"It's more about making content that speaks directly to (a specific) audience rather than making the safest thing possible that will play in as many markets as possible," he said.
This year, the Choice City Film Festival received 30 entries, 10 of which will be screened during the event.
"We received a wide variety of films this year," said Maya Ortega, coordinator with the festival. "We had animated films for the first time. I noticed trends around themes of youth, apocalypse and personal struggles ... Most of the films feature young people and reflect the experiences that they are having. And love stories — we've got some good love stories this year."
Fort Collins' love story with local film is just beginning, and it looks like it's the real deal, Schneider says.
"If you look at the list of (sponsors) who said yes to us for 'Whensday,' folks get it," he said. "They may not have the deep pockets to do much with it, but they are starting to attach a dollar amount to having a vibrant creative sector.
"It's a really good sign if filmmaking is starting to take off in our creative economy," Schneider added. "The groundwork that's been laid by a lot of people is starting to support us, and that's a good sign for everyone."
Choice City Film Festival
When: 6 p.m. Saturday (encore screening at 1 p.m. Sunday)
Where: Lyric Cinema Cafe, 300 E. Mountain Ave., Fort Collins
Cost: Tickets are $15 (or $13 for Lyric members)
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