Ohio Film & Music Festival celebrates homegrown talent

First-ever festival will show off Ohio’s vast musical (and cinematic) contributions

By Kyle Melton

Heartless Bastards will perform at the Ohio Film & Music Festival.

Heartless Bastards will perform at the Ohio Film & Music Festival.

In nearly every arena of American life, Ohio’s contributions are substantial. This weekend in Columbus, the first Ohio Film + Music Festival will celebrate the state’s somewhat under-acknowledged contributions to the arts. With musical performances scheduled from RJD2, Heartless Bastards and Cloud Nothings, and film screenings from Jim Jarmusch and Steven Bognar, along with many more over the three days of the festival, this event should serve as a solid reminder of what Ohio has to offer in film and music. We spoke with festival organizer, Dayton native and director of the recent documentary North Dixie Drive, Eric Mahoney from his New York offices about the impetus for the festival and what makes Ohio such a unique backdrop for artists in these fields.

How did the original idea for the OFM come together? What led to the decision to bring together film and music under a single festival banner?
I have been a part of the Ohio music scene for well over 10 years and a fan of it for much further back than that. It always astounded me the sheer volume of incredible talent that the state exported. Recently, when I began directing films, I found the same thing to be true in the arena of filmmaking as well. It occurred to me that it would be a great idea to hold a festival where a spotlight could be shown on all these very talented Ohio artists. I began talking about it with a long time friend, Scott Johnson, and in the spring of this year we started laying the groundwork for what is the first annual Ohio Film + Music Festival. I also really believe that these two art forms complement each other so well and hope to merge the two with performances in the future. [Eric Mahoney]

What sort of stylistic/conceptual thread do you feel connects all of these artists? Do you think there is some distinctive trait that artists from Ohio seem to exhibit?
I don’t know that there is an artistic similarity in our program this year so much as there is probably a shared mentality. One thing I have noticed with Ohio artists in particular, though, is their work ethic. People outside the state don’t often think of Ohio as being a hotbed of artistic talent. When I moved to NYC I was often asked if I grew up on a farm when I told people where I was from. I think that because of that mentality, Ohio musicians and filmmakers develop a tenacity and drive to get their work out there that artists on the coasts for instance don’t have because they don’t have to. Ohio artists have to really work to get their art “out there” and I think everyone in this year’s program shares that drive. [EM]

How did you go about selecting artists to showcase/perform during the festival? Whenapproaching the various artists, what were their responses to participating in an Ohio-centric event?
Well, we first came up with a very long list of names of musicians and films. I was really shocked at how easy the booking all came together. The vast majority of the bands and filmmakers we went after immediately said yes and were very excited to be participating. It was great to see the artists so willing to get on board and get behind this concept for the festival. Although this year was curated by myself and Scott, in the future we would love to take film and band submissions to help jump start emerging artists and give some exposure to lesser known acts and films. [EM]

For people who are attending the event, what can they expect? What sort of balance do you feel you have achieved in showcasing both films and music alongside each other during this event? How do you feel they complement one another?
I think people who are coming out can expect a ton of wonderful art packed into a few days. It was important to me to design a festival that I would want to myself attend. I figured, what’s better than watching movies all day, grabbing some food and then seeing an awesome show? So for those who can make the most of it and come out to several events, I think it will be a very enriching weekend. We have an excellent cross section of classic and contemporary work too, so people can maybe check out a long lost favorite of theirs, or catch a new band of film that would not have been on their radars otherwise. Being an audience member for films and shows is such a different experience, too. I think it’s great to have those quiet introspective moments of viewing a thought provoking film juxtaposed with a night of loud music shared by a crowded room of people. [EM]

Is there anything else people should know about OFM going into the event?
It’s my only hope to share what I’ve known about the Ohio arts scene with (hopefully) a wider audience. Come out and enjoy what we have. Like I said, many people sell the state short in terms of art, but we are here to try and change that mentality and make this an annual event that can grow each year. [EM]

The Ohio Film + Music Festival will take place in Columbus from Oct. 6-9. For a full listing of events and locations, as well as ticket information, visit ofmfest.com.

Reach DCP Music Editor Kyle Melton at MusicEditor@DaytonCityPaper.com and read his blog at thebuddhaden.net.

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