Friday, August 28, 2020

Indie Memphis Youth Film Festival Goes Virtual This Weekend

Posted By on Fri, Aug 28, 2020 at 9:41 AM

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The Indie Memphis Youth Film Festival, preparing to go into its fifth year, is one of the Bluff City art scene’s big success stories. “What's great about it is, it has expanded every single year,” says Indie Memphis’ Joseph Carr.

This year, like most events of its size, the Youth Film Festival has gone virtual. Carr says that has turned out to be an opportunity to expand the event’s reach. “We’ve always had a national block of of short films in the festival, but this year were actually able to record a Q&A with the student filmmakers from around the country. Those students can now access the local films and engage with the workshops as well. So the virtual setting, which at first felt like a restriction, isn't really one. It’s opening us up to a lot more involvement from kids outside of Memphis.”

The festival, which usually takes place over a single, long Saturday session in September, has been broken into three days. “We didn’t want to ask students to sit at the computer for 12 straight hours on one day,” says Carr.

Usually, student filmmakers are paired with mentors from the Memphis filmmaking community to help them create short films. This year, gathering restrictions imposed by coronavirus epidemic has made that arrangement impractical. “We have 12 teams of three students with one professional filmmaker as their mentor, kind of guiding them through the process of conceptualizing and producing a short films. But this year, because of the obvious reasons, the students weren't able to make their films. So instead we pivoted and have had the students put together pitch videos. It was kind of an idea that came from our Black Creators Forum pitch rally.”

The pitch videos will be streamed at noon on Saturday. It’s not the only opportunity student filmmakers will get to learn from experienced filmmakers. The seminars will include a lighting demonstration by cinematographer Jordan Danelz; a class in voice acting by Ashley Johnson, who recently won a BAFTA award for her work on the hit video game The Last of Us; and a seminar in creating for YouTube by Seren Sensei, who was selected as Indie Memphis’ Black Screenwriter resident. There will also be sessions with distinguished Youth Film Fest alumnae Nubia Yasin, and Vivian Gray, who is currently studying at the prestigious University of Southern California film school. “I put together four-person committee of active young filmmakers in Memphis who are part of the program, and that was a big thing for them. They want to hear from other people around their age, because after a while, it starts to feel too much like a classroom if it's just a bunch of old people telling you how to make movies.”

The 2020 Youth Film Festival kicks off on Friday, August 28th, at 6:30 p.m. with the Memphis Youth Competition Screening, where 15 short films by Bluff City filmmaking crews will compete for cash prizes and a $5,000 production package from Via Productions. You can find out more on the Indie Memphis website.

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