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Indie Film Jam Hits the High Note
By Douglas Lorah
This year's Indie Film Jam was the most attended in its short four year history. There was more energy which built throughout the weekend and concluded on a high note with a fashion show.
All the events and screenings for the IFJ took place at the City Arts Factory in comparison to three venues in 2007. Further, the headquarters for the greater Florida Music Festival was located at the Orange County History Center, which was closer than the downtown Marriott, making it easier to navigate.
The 2008 IFJ started on Thursday, May 15 in conjunction with downtown Orlando's Third Thursday event. City of Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer even paid a visit to City Arts and took a photo op with IFJ Program Director John Theisen.
Thursday evening had very light crowds for screenings and Q&A's.
Friday night, the amount of people on the streets picked up and they started filling the City Arts Factory. There were people snapping photos, looking at music related artwork at the Rock Walk, and listening to musical performances downstairs in the gallery.
The second night also brought in Writer/Director A.D. Calvo from Connecticut with his first feature film The Other Side of the Tracks, which is an after life drama. The screening was preceded by a musical performance by Levi Connor and Alan Moretz of Million Year Echo, who is on the soundtrack for the film, and succeeded by a Q&A with Calvo.
Later that night after the Shorts Program #1, the Q&A had local filmmakers from SOLMI and Imran Zaidi as well as filmmakers representing Fugue Films from Bristol, PA (just outside Philadelphia).
Saturday started off with an industry panel moderated by Spoon from Full Sail. The panel was comprised of UCF's Rich Grula, Orlando Film Commission's Suzy Allen, Robin Cowie of Haxan fame, and indie filmmaker A.D. Calvo. The panel answered a few questions from Spoon and then opened it up to the audience. Topics ranged from best practices in getting started in the film industry to how to get bands involved with film.
After a short break, the documentary Skid Row showed to a near capacity audience. After the film, Pras Michel (The Fugues) and Producer Rob Wisdom stuck around for a lengthy Q&A. They discussed the documentary which is centered around the homeless district in downtown Los Angeles. Pras gave up his celebrity to go under cover for nine days and lived on the street wearing a hidden camera. He continually checked in with the production team to swap out video tapes and get updates. You can actually see a difference in his demeanor after a short time of living on the streets. Both of them now represent non profit organizations to help the homeless. Pras created Prasperity Project while Rob works with Operation First Night.
Skid Row was followed by a fun-filled red carpet outside on the sidewalk and the Indie Film Jam Awards Ceremony. Capping off the night was the high energy Rock 'n Roll Runway Show put on by Steven Shea and Abyssmal Entertainment. By this time, all the seats were filled, the walls were lined with people and the bar area was packed. In music, they call it a crescendo.
To check out photos from the 3 day Indie Film Jam, go to the PhotoSeen.