WHITE MOUNTAINS — I spent the weekend at the Show Low Film Festival and witnessed something phenomenal: seeds that were planted a year ago, showed tremendous growth and prolific vitality. Last year, 90 filmmakers (writers, directors, editors, producers, executive producers, staff and family) enthusiastically traveled up the Rim to present 52 films. The very first Show Low Film Festival was a rousing success.

This year’s tally increased to 165 filmmakers arriving with 65 films to be judged in a number of categories (suspense, horror, sci-fi, documentary, mockumentary, shorts, feature length, featurettes, script readings and music videos). Every film displayed excellent production value in cinematography, editing, special effects, art and set design, costumes, rigorous stunts, sound, original music and animation.

Filmmakers came from the East Coast, the West Coast, in between, and one lady traveled from Scotland to showcase her project. Very importantly, a number of films were produced in Arizona, with healthy representation from Tucson and Phoenix.

In addition, the White Mountains is home of many talented writers, producers, directors and technicians and there is an effort to find funding to build a full-blown production sound stage up here. Many visitors have seen the majestic beauty of the White Mountains which can serve as scenic locations for a number of states and for any film genre. A couple of production companies are planning to shoot projects up here and as good entrepreneurs, they are already working deals with local businesses to exchange goods and services for locations and possible product placement.

The Show Low Film Festival was the brain-child of Martina Webster, who is a successful producer of feature films and a recent music video, “The Wind of Heaven” featuring Justin Hayward of The Moody Blues. Her next feature, “Hashtag Blessed-the Movie,” will be filmed in Pinetop/Show Low, in November 2020.

Martina joined forces with her daughter, Dalea Faulkner (writer, producer, actress), Stephany Borders (producer and CEO of Party Planners of major events) and Teddy Croney, (owner of WME Village 8 Theatres in Lakeside) to organize and execute such a huge undertaking here.

A unique aspect of SLFF is all film entries are shown on the big screen in a movie theatre, something that filmmakers do not always experience at film festivals. In addition, an important rule at this film festival stipulates the filmmakers must personally represent their projects at this venue or be disqualified. In addition, filmmakers must be present at the awards ceremony or lose their prize.

SLFF offers workshops in many key phases of making films from start to finish and beyond. The festival is a launchpad for opportunities in networking and mentoring artists. One of Martina’s goals is to provide an extensive venue for filmmakers to make distribution deals at the festival. Streaming services through companies like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, YouTube and a plethora of outlets provides an enormous opportunity for anyone with an idea and the energy to put it together. Broadcasters are clamoring for “content” and the field is wide open. There’s even a method for self-distribution which is like self-publishing a book. 

The festival also gives back to the community. This year they donated $600 to Meals on Wheels.

Here’s the best part of attending SLFF: you get to meet the filmmakers and actors in person, to ask questions, interview, interact and seek advice. Who knows? A film idea could start sprouting after attending this festival and you may eventually see your project on the big screen at WME Village 8. Happy planting!

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