FilmDayton talks business

Annual film festival focuses on life behind and in front of the camera

By T.T. Stern-Enzi

Photo: “Breaking A Monster” will screen at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 24 during the Eichelberger FilmDayton Festival

As part of its early marketing and promotional blast, the team behind the seventh annual Eichelberger FilmDayton Festival, Oct. 23-25, announced that this year, the focus would be on showcasing “the business of film,” meaning, “far from being simply about the actors in front of the camera,” FilmDayton President Shaunn Baker says, “the film industry would not exist without dedicated professionals working behind the scenes.”

And just so attendees appreciate that Baker was not just paying lip service to that sentiment, the opening event on Friday, Oct. 23, from 5–7 p.m. at the Dayton Convention Center is a reception (Hey, a party!) and a “PITCH IT!” session for would-be storytellers with a screenplay, teleplay, fictional manuscript, web series, short film or an idea waiting to be transmitted from your brain stem into some format or another. Each participant gets two minutes to pitch their project to a panel of professionals (agents, producers, managers and screenwriters) with the chance to snag a cash prize: $1,000 of initial funds to jumpstart the creative conversion process. The event has become a staple of the festival and actively engages audiences and participants alike, setting the stage and tone that immerses everyone in the business, right off the bat.

The final day of the festival kicks off with a must-attend workshop facilitated by filmmaker Doug Lodato, who graduated and pursued his dream to make movies by raising over three-quarters of a million dollars, and—through private investors—produced a film that ultimately lost all of those investment dollars. That experience led Lodato on an odyssey to learn the in’s and out’s of film financing, so he would never suffer a similar situation again. And thanks to FilmDayton, aspiring filmmakers and their local supporters can benefit from his wealth of much-needed insight.

The lesson here is so much time and effort is spent addressing the creative side of any and all art forms, we tend to overlook the very real and practical concerns that truly make or break the artist and the work. It is not always necessary for the artist to have equal command of both the creative and the financial details, but an understanding of the big picture is vital. Take advantage of this unique opportunity.

Of course, the heart of the festival is (and should be) the schedule of films, and this year’s program comes stuffed to the breaking point with a variety of films crossing genres and formats with the fluid and graceful flow of an old school DJ furiously working two turntables and a microphone.

In terms of film, Opening Night ends with a creepy teaser—“Seven Hells”—collecting seven horror/comedy shorts from the premiere horror festivals. The intention is to inspire shocks and giggles in equal measure as a prelude to Halloween. Saturday features a full 90-minute block of high school shorts from around the country (with a couple of selections from Canada and Australia for international flavor). Later that afternoon, a program of Ohio shorts debuts as well. In between, regional audiences in search of timely drama might want to check out “Akron,” which paints a portrait of a University of Akron freshman who meets a fellow student at a football game and embarks on a perilous relationship with tragic ties to a secret shared by the mothers of the two young men.

Having thoroughly enjoyed a musical extravaganza at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival, I personally am intrigued by “Breaking a Monster,” a documentary that examines the road traveled by the new band Unlocking the Truth, a group of 13-year old African American teens with dreams of rocking and shattering barriers and expectations on their way to becoming stars. As a proud parent of a teenage female drummer, I would urge any and all parents with music-minded children to tune in to this one.

It looks like this year’s installment of the FilmDayton Festival aims to hopelessly blur the boundaries and notions between the action in front of and behind the camera. Plug into the action all around!

The 7th Annual Eichelberger FilmDayton Festival will run from Friday, Oct. 23-Sunday, Oct. 25. All screenings will take place at The Neon. All-access passes are $75, Flex Passes (three events) are $25, and single tickets are $10. For tickets and a full weekend schedule, visit filmdayton.com

Reach DCP film critic T.T. Stern-Enzi at Film@DaytonCityPaper.com and visit his blog for additional film reviews at terrencetodd.wordpress.com.

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Reach DCP Film Critic T.T. Stern-Enzi at Film@DaytonCityPaper.com and visit his blog for additional film reviews at TerrenceTodd.com. You can also follow him on Twitter at @ttsternenzi.

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