Independent film making is a huge part of the Georgia film community. It is something that has been thriving long before The Walking Dead, the Drop Dead Divas, and The Vampire Diaries decided to call Georgia home. Long after the days of In the Heat of the Night, which dominated the Georgia television industry for years, indie film makers and Georgia was known for music videos, commercials, and short films but now all that has changed. Georgia film makers have expanded beyond commercials and music videos by expanding into features and web series and generally everything else under the sun. Another thing that Georgia has become known for is the monthly film industry networking event Get Connected which has been excelling for over three years. The event is designed to not only allow film makers both amateur and seasoned the opportunity to network with one another but to also meet vendors and companies specific to the industry as well as getting info through workshops from industry professionals. Get Connected is put together by Autumn Bailey Entertainment, FILMAtlanta, and Blank Stage Productions and is held at The Porter-Sanford Center, 3181 Rainbow Drive, Decatur, GA 30034 on the last Thursday of every month.
In addition to all the great networking opportunities on hand there is also a screening room where both new and emerging film makers and industry professionals are given the opportunity to release their film, commercial, music video, etc. in front of their peers. It is here in the screening room where film enthusiasts get to witness firsthand the variety of films being produced in Georgia. Some of the most recent sampling of films I will discuss below.
Split Decision is a film directed by Jesse Brooks and stars Deborah Childs, Drew Archer, Tom Todaro and Julia Falamas in a family comedy about a guy who gets stuck in the middle of his two parents who are on the verge of a split up. This was my favorite of the bunch because Brooks had a great cast and the pacing was well done creating a comedy that hit all the right beats. It also should be noted that the cast had a great rapport with one another crafting a quirky yet funny film about a son and his two parents. This one should go far at the film festivals. Facebook page here – https://www.facebook.com/SplitDecision2012
Beyond the Fire is directed by Taylor Giddens and stars James Powell, Erin Elizabeth Burns, and Michael Borman in the story of a detective who is hired to catch the killer of a murdered couple. Although technically well done (despite some audio issues) the film lacks the drive of a good mystery mainly because the characters telegraph their intensions. There is a lot of talk to be had by the characters in this short film which takes away from the effectiveness of the story being told. The fire visual effects are outstanding (as should be since it is in the title of the film) but there is little else in this film to recommend. If Giddens can produce a stronger script then next time he’ll have a better film as technically this film has most of the ingredients in place. Trailer for the film is here – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j-_d_lBZEeI
If I am Your Mirror is directed by Garrett DeHart and stars Larry Holden (of Batman Begins and Memento) and is an animated film inspired by Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Tell-Tale Heart” as filtered through the post-Civil War. This is a relatively mixed bag because as visually stunning and beautiful the final version of the film may be the story is a bit chaotic and hard to follow. This is a film that deserves repeat viewing for you to truly enjoy the world that DeHart has crafted in all its demented glory. Some people may find it too cryptic for their tastes but that won’t prevent it from becoming a minor cult film to the right audience. Website for more info about the film is here – http://ifiamyourmirror.com/
Blur: Egos Unleashed is directed by Trent Harris and stars a lot of Georgia talent. The film is designed to be a behind the scenes look at the film industry as filtered through the eyes of several actors and their misadventures on set. The biggest problem with this film is its lack of focus. There are a lot of characters in this short film and the story goes off on many tangents that are meant to be funny asides but instead come off as forced vignettes made worse by the fact that none of the characters are interesting in the slightest bit. “Egos Unleashed” cannot describe how much of a vanity project this is as it’s neither very funny nor interesting (except for maybe the people who are involved in it). What this film needs is some focus and a reevaluation of the jokes in order to pull in the funny bits and strengthen the overall effect of the film as a whole. Watch the whole film here – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xTwC5QfOTkY
I Stand Alone is directed by Kevin Patterson and stars A Jai Simone, Brent Brooks, Jessica Pena, and Kerri Baldwin. This is the story of a woman struggling with the hurtful memories of the past that threaten to destroy her present life and future with the man she wants to spend the rest of her life with. There is a lot that this film wants to say about past trauma and how it can corrode a person’s present state of mind not to mention being a heavily feminist film and one about true love, among several other themes. I believe that some of the themes are lost in the short run time of the film and probably should have been developed into a feature. In this short, all these different story threads get convoluted and blurred rendering most of the film’s overall impact as simply contrived. What does hold the film together for the most part is Simone as the lead character Astasia whose whole life is on the verge of unraveling. She holds the film together despite its faults. Not a great film but an interesting curiosity that will leave you wanting something a little longer and more impactful and less contrived. Watch the trailer here – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=avSd8UnTlaw
Zombie Party PSA directed by Bruce Downs tells the story of the dangers of drug use while overworking oneself. This being Downs’ debut film as a film maker, in an interview conducted after the screening he voiced the desire to produce a film that would show the dangers of drug use for teenagers. Despite the fact that the film does accomplish this goal it is 100% an amateur film by a first time film maker in terms of the screenplay that is all over the place, mediocre acting, bad cinematography, and questionable zombie make up FX, among many other faults of first time low budget and indie film making. This was an interesting addition to the lineup of films at Get Connected. By screening this film audiences got to see another aspect of film making but this time by a first timer who didn’t have a big budget or elaborate make up FX but had a story that he wanted to tell. This being said it will be interesting to see where Downs goes next since he has stated that he wants to continue making horror films that have a message to them and with better production values he may just get there. You can watch the trailer here – https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=qcLHu6r6NlQ
As you can see Get Connected strives to represent a variety of different film makers and genres as much as it can keeping itself relevant in terms of film making in Georgia. With the additions of more television series, big budget productions, and more web series the Georgia film industry is growing at an exponential rate giving film makers more opportunities to advance their craft like never before. Get Connected has become a monthly haven for people seeking to network and find others in the industry and even if you don’t want to network there is always a healthy dose and variety of films and workshops and others things on hand to enjoy yourself. For more information on Get Connected go to http://getconnectedatl.com/