Spain. England. Cuba. Italy. Australia. France. Brazil. Belgium. New York. Los Angeles. Tyler.
Filmmakers from coast to coast and across the globe have sent their short films to Tyler to be entered in the third annual Downtown Tyler Film Festival when it returns to Liberty Hall on Wednesday, Sept. 25. The event has come a long way since it first came back on the scene in 2011 with mostly Texas-focused fare, but quickly expanded the following year. There’s still a very strong local representation in submissions, but the number of international entries has more than doubled since they were eligible in 2012.
Tthe categories have been modified, leaving entries to fall under the classification of either narrative or documentary. However, prizes will be given for Best Texas Film, Best Narrative Film, Best Documentary and Best Student Film.
“In theory, if there was a student film from Texas that was a documentary, it could win three of the top prize categories. We may have to rethink this next year,” Abraham said.
But while the slate of international submissions is greater than in any year past, Abraham said he remains highly impressed with the work put forth by local talent. To the point, he said, where he’s predicting that local films will be awarded to prizes by the festival’s jury.
“I’ll actually speculate with you and say that I think (the jury will decide that) two of the top three films will be Tyler guys’ films. That’s out of the 70 international films we received,” he said. “It so excites me the fact that we have local Tyler guys stepping up to the plate and making films that stand out among international submissions.”
Abraham said that confidence is born of seeing returning filmmakers grow and evolve, in part because of the exposure and experience they have via the festival.
“They’ve really stepped up and learned to make quality films in the years we’ve been doing this, which was really the whole purpose of this. To nurture our filmmakers’ market,” he said.
One of those filmmakers who has stepped up each year is R.J. Parish, whose short film “Papa Bear” won the festival’s “Chairman’s Award of Cinematic Excellence for East Texas Films” last year. Parish returns this year with “The Blind Artist,” which stars Josh Carpenter, who also starred in a 2012 submission, “Expiration Date.” Parish said participating in the festival is quite valuable to him as a filmmaker given the opportunities it provides, be it direct feedback from judges and audience members or simply networking.
“It’s also (helpful) just conversing with other filmmakers,” he said. “The film festival has really helped in that respect too, just being able to meet other people and talk about the craft and the more creative side of (filmmaking) as well.”
Parish said he now has an entire wall of sticky notes in his office filled with bits of advice and thoughts taken from his involvement with the festival.
But it’s not just adult filmmakers making local films. It’s, as one of the previously mentioned awards indicated, students.
“All Saints, Whitehouse High School, there’s one from (Robert E.) Lee, just regular (students). We have enough of those that we’re going to have an entire Saturday session at Liberty Hall just for student films,” Abraham said.
The festival will be spread across four days beginning Wednesday, Sept. 25. The first night will feature films submitted domestically. The second will feature films made in Texas. The third night will be the full lineup of foreign films. The fourth will feature a matinee at 3 p.m. with student made and “art films” (i.e. films that did not meet the entry requirements to be judged formally), with a “Best of the Fest” screening later that evening.
Organizers are also expanding the workshop sessions available with “Fest Success: Advice from the Founder,” “On-Camera Makeup Technique,” as well as sessions on how to organize and stage a casting call and one on how to pick the right gear for a shoot. All classes are free of charge.
Winning films will be announced the final night of the festival. Prizes will include: Best Narrative, $1,000; Best Documentary, $500; Best Texas Film, $500, Best Animated Film, $250 and Best Student Film (K-12 grade), $250.
Tickets can be purchased from the Festival’s website, below is the pricing. The Saturday night after-party includes free food and drinks for badge holders.
Admission tiers are as follows:
$5 Daily Pass: Available for each weeknight (Wednesday-Friday).
$15 Saturday Film and Party Pass: Saturday night “Best of the Fest” films, plus the after-party.
$25 Producer’s All Access Pass: All four nights, plus the after-party.
$200/couple Board of Governers: Preferred seating (limited box seating available on a first-come, first-served reservation basis) for all four nights, plus Saturday after-party, plus names listed in program.
For more information or for tickets, visitwww.tylerfilmfest.com .