You might not think of Texas as a mecca for aspiring filmmakers. If you want to break into the biz, you will probably find yourself in Los Angeles or New York. The upcoming 2011 Texas Filmmakers Showcase intends to disprove this perception, with its seven carefully chosen short films, all from regional directors and producers. The Texas Filmmakers Showcase, curated and executed by the Houston Film Commission, has been around for ages, but it is only in the past two years that they have hooked up with the Cinema Arts Festival to showcase what they think are the brightest rising stars in the state.
The showcase is a juried selection of short films, judged by a panel of professional directors and producers. The only criteria for entering a film are that it be less than 40 minutes long and be created by someone who holds a current Texas state driver's license. This year the commission received 120 submissions, which is pretty standard. Alfred Cervantes, Deputy Director of the Film Commission, says while they don't have problems getting submissions, if he sees a particular film in a festival that has not entered the showcase, he will go and seek it out.
The showcase actually began as a student film competition, the original idea being that the winners would snag the opportunity to screen their film in L.A. for some bigwig producers. The showcase developed into its current incarnation, but the chosen filmmakers are still flown to California and given a screening. While micro-budget indie films are on the rise, it's the actual exposure and audience that Cervantes sees as the major obstacle for these filmmakers. "We try and screen the chosen films as much as we can, " he tells us. "There is great work being produced; it needs to be seen."
What will be seen at this year's showcase is an amalgamation of narrative, documentary and art house, a little something for everyone. The seven filmmakers hail from across the state, the majority calling Austin and Dallas home. On the H-town front, there is a music video by the creative team of Mark Armes and Rick Darge from Funwunce, a video and print shop. Shot on location all over town (including the stage of Summerfest), this endearing video follows the misadventures of a robot as he encounters hipster drunks, freaky druggies and more hipsters on his way "Home," with soundtrack courtesy of LCD Soundsystem.
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Katy filmmaker Soham Meta's film Fatakra has been traveling the festival circuit and winning awards along the way; he even took home a student Academy Award. The film follows Naveen, a husband and father, who leaves his home in India to make a better life for his family. However, when the recession hits, things do not go quite as planned.
Cervantes is proud of the caliber of local talent in this year's showcase and encourages any young filmmaker to attend to gauge what type of films he should be striving to produce. If going to see a short film showcase in the middle of the afternoon on a weekday just happens to be on your bucket list, then you are in some serious luck. The showcase is, unfortunately, on a Thursday afternoon, but that shouldn't stop you from coming. Cervantes jokes, "Just call in to work, or, better yet, quit your job and then come."
The Texas Filmmakers Showcase will be held on Thursday, November 10, at 3:45 p.m. at the Museum of Fine Arts as a part of the 2011 Cinema Arts Festival. For more information visit www.houstonfilmcommission.com.