If you’re a local film buff, this is the weekend for you. The North by Midwest Micro-Budget Film Festival (NxMW) and the Teen Filmmaker Festival have combined forces this year for one big film extravaganza in Kalamazoo.
The two festivals have a lot in common. Both feature local filmmakers and favor low budget flicks. All the films submitted to NxMW have to be made for less than $5,000 or $10,000 - depending on the category.
Teen Film Fest organizer and Kalamazoo youth librarian Stewart Fritz says teen films are usually even cheaper than that. He jokes it’s more like a “no budget” film fest:
“Yeah, I think by virtue of the fact that they’re teens, many of them don’t have access to the equipment or the editing or that sort of thing. And they really have to kind of make this stuff kind of on the fly in the camera -and yet they still make great films.”
Nick Eppinga handles public relations and outreach for Public Media Network, which hosts NxMW. He says teaming up with the Teen Film Fest just made sense.
“We had an older audience and the Teen Filmmaker Festival had a younger audience. So we thought by combining them maybe we could get the two groups to go to the different events,” says Eppinga.
Fritz says seeing older filmmakers might encourage teens to keep doing their art after high school.
“Once they get done with our fest and they’re too old for it, they know that there’s a venue for them to continue on,” he says.
“I think too that it’s very important for them to meet the older filmmakers and get inspiration from them. See the films that do make it into the festival and as they get older they can develop their skills from that,” says Ashley Morris, marketing and promotions coordinator at Public Media Network.
Fritz says until this collaboration, the Teen Film Fest was still using CDs. North by Midwest introduced him to a website that lets filmmakers submit their work online.
“Which really helped with kind of on cutting back on losing discs in the mail - which happened every year before this. It also allowed us to watch the films as they came in,” says Fritz.
Fritz says starting this year the Teen Film Fest won’t be restricted to high school students any more.
“So last year we thought we get all of these films by middle schoolers, some of them are really good and we kind of would like to show them off. So this year we created a special award category called the Young Filmmaker Award,” he says.
The winner of that award will get a full ride scholarship to the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts’ week-long filmmaking camp through the Kirk Newman Art School.
Both festivals are also holding panel discussions on filmmaking. After all, Eppinga says the weekend is partly about filmmakers meeting other filmmakers.
“And hopefully build some relationships so they can work on films together,” he says.
The North By Midwest Micro-Budget Film Festival, sponsored by the Kalamazoo Film Society, will be held Saturday at the Epic Center - followed by the 14th Annual Teen Filmmaker Festival on Sunday in Chenery Auditorium.