WAC showcase screens seven films by Arkansas makers March 11

WAC showcase screens seven films by Arkansas makers March 11

The link that binds together an evening of stories about parallel dimensions, reunited lovers, haunted games, a day in the life of a nursing home resident and a terrifying flight is that they are the work of Arkansas makers. Seven films that were created in the natural state and curated by Fayetteville Film Fest will screen during the Arkansas Filmmakers’ Showcase March 11 at the Walton Arts Center.

Marc Crandall of Fayetteville was inspired by his daughter to start making his own movies, and now one will screen during the Saturday night showcase.

“I got interested in filmmaking watching my daughter as she went to film school. I volunteered on several film sets and really enjoyed the filmmaking process,” Crandall explains. “I held many different positions on the set and finally graduated to writing and directing ‘Banana Triangle Six.’

“It is based on a short story by best-selling author Louis Bayard and includes both lighthearted moments and pretty intense drama,” Crandall says.

Northwest Arkansas, his home since 1994, has a supportive filmmaking community, he says.

“Arkansas influences my work on several levels. Physically the state provides a wide array of beautiful locations to fill almost any script requirement. Professionally, the filmmaking community has grown to the point where nearly every technical/creative position can be filled from our local pool of talent,” Crandall says.

Chuck Mere of Fayetteville echoes that sentiment.

“It’s where I first dipped my toes into the world of video production, thanks to the local cable access scene. I’ve brought all sorts of creative projects to life here, from commercials to feature films. And what’s more, the unique character and charm of this place have a way of sneaking into everything I create, adding a little extra magic to my work.”

His film “Lemniscate” screens on Saturday evening.

“Seeing people react so positively to it has been nothing short of magical. The film tackles some really weighty themes like the constant juggling act of balancing work and family, and the inner battles we all face as we try to confront our fears and flaws,” he says. “To me, it’s so important that these messages are heard, and every time I get to share the film with a new audience, I feel like I’m doing my part to spread a little bit of light and love in the world. It fills me with so much pride and happiness to know that something I created can make people feel that way.”

Mere’s love of filmmaking started with his father.

“When I was a little tyke, I dreamed of becoming a paleontologist — I was only 7 years old! But as I grew a bit older, I started making little dinosaur cartoons with my dear old dad. We’d use his fancy new video camera to bring my sketches to life, playing them back in fast forward to watch the magic unfold,” Mere says. He was further inspired when “Jurassic Park” hit the big screen.

“I knew then that I wanted to make movies more than anything else in the world,” says the 30-year resident of Northwest Arkansas.

Another family story with a sci-fi twist will be “Flight” by Tyler Horne.

“I grew up in a little town just north of Hot Springs called Jessieville, which is in the middle of nowhere. So I’d say the main influence Arkansas has on me creatively is its natural mysteries and folklore. As a kid, I would hear a lot of ‘ghost stories’ about the woods, hills and rivers, and some of that folklore still resonates with me today,” he says.

His love of movie magic started at home with his twin brother and a camcorder his parents bought in the 1990s.

“We had no idea what we were doing but quickly found out that my brother preferred to be in front of the camera, and I enjoyed operating it.”

His film, “Flight,” deals with a boy who is struggling to come to terms with his parents’ marital problems and must face his worst nightmare and make a choice that he never wanted to make. His brother plays the dad in the movie.

“This film may be creepy to some, but it’s really about family, how we all communicate the same feelings differently and facing your fears. If anyone is feeling trapped, scared, or misunderstood, you’re not alone.”

“The state of Arkansas is so beautiful, and there are so many hidden gems here,” says Levi Smith of Van Buren. “I knew early on that this was a great place to try and build upon the film industry. It’s also cheaper! Which is a plus when you’re a broke 22-year-old!”

Smith recently graduated with a degree in filmmaking. His film “Double Trouble,” about two teenagers who encounter a haunted arcade machine, is part of the showcase.

“‘Double Trouble’” is proof that with a good crew and an undying passion, that you can make a spectacular, fun, unique movie right here in the state of Arkansas,” Smith says of his project with Brett Helms.

“I have always been making videos and creating content since I was 12 years old,” he says. “Writing, filming, and editing movies has always fascinated me, and while my technical skills have improved over the years, my child-like creativity has remained as strong as ever.”

Molly Wheat also followed her dreams of making films from a young age.

“My aunt let me use the family camcorder when I was a kid, and I never stopped making things in some form or fashion. My cousin and I would record a full-on news show any time we’d get together. In high school, kids would pay me to edit their school projects,” Wheat explains. After getting involved with the music scene, she’s gone on to make music videos too and relies on the supportive community she’s found in Little Rock.

“Growing up in Searcy, I wasn’t exposed to the possibility that exists here, whether that was due to my age or just being so contained in a small town bubble. I always thought I would have to move to be given the opportunity to do something, but that wasn’t very accessible.”

“Pomegranate” is a short film that Wheat made with Valerie Polston, her co-writer who stars in the film. The story of two former lovers meeting again is “an amalgamated fiction based on truth.”

“This was so creatively fulfilling because it felt so personal. I feel like I can creatively be my truest self when I’m working with Val. This is just the first project we’ve done together in a serious capacity, and we are working on more. In 2023, we will be working to fund a feature film that we wrote together.”



Arkansas Filmmakers’ Showcase

WHAT — Curated by Fayetteville Film Fest, the night will feature a showcase of films made in Arkansas by Arkansans and includes an eclectic mix of stories and formats.

WHEN — 8 p.m. March 11

WHERE — Starr Theater at the Walton Arts Center in Fayetteville

COST — $15

INFO— waltonartscenter.org

FYI — Also showing are “For a Few Dollars Fewer” by Nick Loper of Siloam Springs, a Western about an amateur bandit who tries to make a name for himself after finding out his bounty is just $10; and Ethan Gueck’s “Boppie,” about a man’s attempt to re-create some of his grandfather’s memories to avoid grief.

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