Downtown Oklahoma City festival brings in over 100 films.
OU students, alums featured at fifth annual film festival
This weekend, the fifth annual deadCENTER Film Festival in downtown Oklahoma City will screen 122 films by directors across the nation, with current and former OU students among them.
Some students have screened their films at Sundance and some are still working on degrees, but either way, at deadCENTER the OU community will prove that Oklahoma can be a place for film.
In the case of one graduate, Terry Holloway, moving to Eugene, Ore., helped him realize he carries a distinct Oklahoma vision.
"I'm from Slaughterville, and I graduated from the media program at the art school," Holloway said. "Looking back now, I'm glad I started out in Oklahoma now that I've experienced the coasts. In Oklahoma I actually have a voice. The Midwest is totally different. I like that I have that background.
"I've done a screening here [in Eugene] and it went over really well because it's country, and that's what Oklahoma is about," Holloway said. "That small town atmosphere that revolves around a hardware store."
Holloway will be screening his short film "Today is Monday" at deadCENTER. The film focuses on characters of a small town hardware store, where one employee tries too hard to impress the new guy. Holloway shot the film in a week at an ACE hardware store in Noble, Okla. Two years ago he screened his first student film "Economy Size" at deadCENTER.
"You're used to showing your films to friends, then you go to this festival and you're watching it with people who don't know you," Holloway said. "It's a true critique. It's just a great experience anyway to watch your film in a setting like that."
Though Holloway resides in Eugene, he said he will never lose the ties he formed at OU.
"There is definitely a film/video group, a collective of people who are trying to do things," he said. "There is even a cool Oklahoma connection building in Eugene and Portland. It's really weird. We all graduated around the same area and we are sticking together."
OU graduate Chad Burris and film senior Sterlin Harjo's short film "Goodnight Irene" tells the story of two eager males and an old Seminole woman who meet each other in the waiting room of a hospital. The circumstance sparks conversation and the characters learn things about each other and themselves. "Goodnight Irene" will be screened at deadCENTER.
"Everywhere it plays, the festival coordinators tell me they really enjoyed it," Burris said.
The film has played at Tribeca, Sundance, Aspen, Vancouver and Berlin festivals. It garnered a special jury prize at the Aspen festival.
"Goodnight Irene" was filmed in Wewoka and Burris said Oklahoma has a simple hometown atmosphere that he believes will lend itself to many pictures in the future.
"From my 'Goodnight Irene' experiences, the people you work with are the biggest advantage," he said. "I think Oklahoma has a real laid-back, easy-going attitude.
"At 'Goodnight Irene,' there weren't any attitudes or egos, and that makes a big difference when shooting a movie," he said. "That's huge for a film."
OU film production seniors Sterling Gates and Jordan Boyd worked together on a six-minute post-apocalyptic zombie film, "The Deadwalk." Gates shot the film on 16mm film and combined the footage with computer technology to create the feel of a first-class horror flick.
"We talked about it and said 'how do you shoot a post-apocolyptic world in Oklahoma?'" Gates said. "Then Jordan says 'we can just insert a shot of a broken city.'"
The result can be viewed at deadCENTER 11 a.m. Friday.
Gates said he and fellow art students will head to Los Angeles to pursue careers after graduation this summer. He said aspects of shooting film in Oklahoma will remain with him-the red dirt for instance.
"When we watched 'The Deadwalk,' the colorist asked 'Should the dirt be this color? That doesn't look right,'" Gates said. "It's a distinct thing [the red dirt in Oklahoma] you don't see anywhere else. The sky is so beautiful here, too. I've been to L.A. and they're not kidding about not being able to see the sky."
Matt Leach, professional writing senior, shot the 23-minute film, "Golden" with friend Clint Rule. The film has been finished for a year and will be one of the films on display at the festival. "Golden is about finding a friendship in unexpected places and about the fractured nature of modern life, and how people overcome it," Leach said. The first 15 minutes of the film toys with a cinematic technique that allows three separate frames of video to roll.
"That was the real challenge of the film," Leach said. "But [it's] what we both felt made the movie interesting."
Leach said he and Rule held complete responsibility of shooting, editing and acting.
"By the end of the process, almost nine months later, the film had turned into something we never expected," Leach said.
Saturday night, an award ceremony for the films and an outdoor screening of Norman native Bradley Beesley's documentary "The Fearless Freaks" about The Flaming Lips will take place in Kerr Park.
"Every year we get bigger, which means more submissions," said said Melissa Scaramucci, program director. "We were really blown away by the large number of excellent films entered this year."
This year Sundance and the Independent Film Channel are assisting in the festival.
Other events at the festival include two workshops from Screen Actors Guild on indie contracts and screenwriting.
Films will be screened around the dowtown area, at Harkins Theater among others. Cost for individual screenings is $7. For more information visit www.deadcenterfilm.org
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