Scenes & Sounds

Film and music festival still ‘Boom’ing after decade

Poster by Lance LaRue

With an eye on cultivating local networks of enthusiasts, fans and professionals, the Boomtown Film Festival is entering its tenth year of existence and has earned credibility among area events to literally “see” art in motion.

The humble beginnings of a few like-minded folks who got a small group together to watch and discuss movies 10 years ago has developed into a three-day event that focuses on local and Texas talent. It has spread out to several locales around the city to showcase and judge work that may not always be seen anywhere else.

“What we want, and what has always been our focus, is the appreciation of filmmaking,” Chase Kiker, director of the festival, says. “Not just in the sense of watching — but appreciating the craft and work that goes into making a film, regardless if it’s a feature length or short film production.”

The event is sponsored by the Texas Film Commission and the Houston Film Commission along with local business and individual donors.

While many people think of the large blockbusters appearing at the local cinemaplex, Kiker says it is the day-to-day work that sustains the industry on a professional level, especially locally.

“The day to day work of commercial production – what I call blue-collar artists— sustains and provides the foundation for what most local filmmakers do around the country,” he says. “This event serves to provide exposure to like-minded people so they can see what others just like them are doing and hopefully provide a chance for them to connect —

“Creating an authentic experience with people who want to share their wealth of knowledge with people who want to learn and know and create art is one of the main purposes of the event.”

Kiker says the festival is an opportunity for people to get feedback on their projects and to promote local art and art groups.

The main event of the festival is the screenings and the festival contest. The festival has a panel of 10 judges to award prizes in several categories with each winning film being screened at select times and locations around Beaumont. Some of the venues for the festival include the opening of events at Spindletop Gladys City on Friday, Feb. 23, screenings at the Jefferson Theatre and Art Museum of Southeast Texas on Saturday, Feb. 24 and winner recaps on Sunday, Feb. 25 at Tradewinds inside the MCM Eleganté Hotel. Special events are also planned at the Dishman Gallery at Lamar University, with music events hosted in downtown Beaumont.

“We want to be the people’s art festival, the place to go to see the things they like and are familiar with, as well as be exposed to the weird new things they could really like,” Julie Rodriguez, film committee chairperson says. “This year, we have tried to diversify with our music and our programing. We have new things we haven’t done before, including a staged reading on Thursday.”

Leading up to the main event weekend the organizers hosted a series of smaller contests and fundraisers — a 48-hour film race held Jan. 13-15 and a music video competition to be held Feb. 3 in which contestants have about one week’s time to complete their project before submitting.

A special “Small & Creepy” film contest similar to the 48-hour contest was held Oct. 28 and judged by Screenwriter Caroline Thompson. Thompson wrote and produced the screenplays for classics such as “Edward Scissorhands,” “The Nightmare Before Christmas,” and “Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride,” among others.

“Films are chosen based on how well they are scored by the film committee, how the films fit together to form blocks, and how we expect them to play in our community,” Danielle Husband, film programmer says. “When I’m creating the program, I agonize over which films to select. There are always more great films than available time slots. Because I’m passionate about film, I want to share all of the truly fantastic films that are submitted to us with the festival goers, but I know that I have to choose the best lineup to fit our schedule.”

The main film competition submission deadline ended Dec. 1, and awards will be given to the First, Second and Third Place winners in the following categories: Narrative (feature), Narrative (short), Documentary, Experimental/Music Video, Student and one grand prize for “Best in Show.”

First place in each category and best in show will be awarded the coveted Boomtown”Gusher” trophy.

Screenplay Awards will be given to Best Short and Feature Screenplay. Winners will also get a script consultation and sponsor related prizes.

Both Rodriguez and Husband say that no matter which block they choose, attendees will experience great cinema. The festival brings some of the best current indie films to Beaumont and showcases the art of filmmaking with a goal of celebrating independent film and “making it accessible to southeast Texans in their own backyard.”

Tickets can be purchased for day passes, all venue passes or a VIP pass.

For tickets and updates on schedules and locations visit the Boomtown Film Festival on the web at www.boomtownfestival.com or on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and Instagram @ #boomfestx.

Story by Stephan Malick, ISSUE staff writer

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