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Meet the Filmmaker: Stephanie Bettman, “When We’re Together”

Q: Why did I become a filmmaker?

A: I fell in love with the theater as a child. I was an actress for many years, along with being a screenwriter and occasional producer of short films and commercials. I gave it all up to be a full-time songwriter and touring and recording artist. Since then I’ve had the desire to make music videos. This is my first live action music video. And I’m thrilled to be sharing it here at the emerging film makers project!

Q: What are we going to be seeing at the EFP?

A: You are screening my first live action music video “when we’re together”. This is a music video for an original song that I wrote for my 7th studio  album  “Timeless “.  It was released in June 2022.

Q: What else are you working on?

A: I’m currently working on a lot of new material, new songs. With several ideas for music videos in the pipeline. I am looking for more collaborators to create music videos with!

Q: Tell us one weird thing about you and/or your movies?

A: One thing about me that pretty much always remains consistent in my creative work; I am always intending to impact people in a positive way. I hope this video does that for a lot of people! Oh, I just realized the question was one weird thing about me. I guess a weird thing about me is that I used to be an aerialist. And I am getting back into that now that Covid shut down my touring schedule. Looking to bring that to a music video soon!

Q: Where can people go to find out more about you and your work?

A: People can find out more about me and my music at bettmanandhalpin.com. Bettman & Halpin is my acoustic americana duo which has been touring nationally for the last 15 years. I am currently in the process of creating a solo project, but as that doesn’t exist yet, I can still be found in connection to Bettman & Halpin. Though I’m on FB and Instagram under both Stephanie Bettman, and Bettman & Halpin.

Q: Is there anything you’d like to say about The Emerging Filmmakers Project?

A: I’m so grateful to the emerging filmmakers project for choosing my video to be screened on September 15! Thank you so much for choosing me, and I look forward to meeting everybody there!

When We’re Together will screen during The Emerging Filmmakers Project on Thursday, September 15th, 2022 at The Bug Theatre.

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Meet the Filmmaker: Paul Jensen, “IRA”

Q: Why did you become a filmmaker?

A: From an early age, I remember having an interest in film/moving images. At that time, I think much of that interest was expressed in a consumption of film and digital media. I’m also a skateboarder, which is a culture heavily influenced by visual language.

I find the more I research, learn and participate in visual culture, the more I find, develop, and deepen my own understanding of my voice as both an artist and filmmaker. As I continue to grow and learn, I find I discover that voice more and more, a process that is ever-changing.

Q: What are we going to see at the EFP? Has it screened elsewhere and what are your plans for it?

A: At this edition of EFP you will be seeing “IRA,” my first short film and a project I spent the past five years working on. Produced independently by myself and a number of former students, the film is a testament to the life of Ira Sanders, a high school economics teacher in the Twin-Cities area who has bravely and selflessly shared his story with students for years.

The film had its world premiere in NYC last fall and has been screening exclusively at film festivals/theatrical exhibitions since earlier this spring. This includes screenings in Los Angeles, Chicago, Austin, Portland, San Francisco, Minneapolis, Toronto, England, South Korea and more!

After a considerable festival/tour run, the film is preparing for a VOD launch this fall. The film also had an awards qualifying run at the Music Box Theater in Chicago in late July. I have a deep commitment and belief in the film and its story, so I plan to challenge myself and push for a Documentary Short Subject nomination at this year’s Academy Awards.

Q: What else are you working on?

A: While handling promotion and production of the film has proven consuming enough on top of my regular work, I have yet to commit to my next project. I’ve been approached with some ideas, in addition to a handful of my own curiosities, but am still waiting for the right project. I believe good things take time and patience.

Since completing the film, I’ve been enjoying my job as an editor in Los Angeles, working on promotional film campaigns for a number of Hollywood studios in addition to an upcoming docu-series produced by Netflix.

Q: Tell us one weird thing about you and/or your movies?

A: One weird thing about me is that I am endlessly committed to my art.

Q: Where can people go to find out more about you and your work?

Instagram: @have.a.gr8.day

Portfolio: cargocollective.com/PaulJensen

Q: Is there anything you’d like to say about The Emerging Filmmakers Project?

A: I’d like to extend my deepest gratitudes to the The Bug Theatre and The Emerging Filmmakers Project, not just for showing my film but for a dedication to their platform for emerging and independent filmmakers alike.

IRA will screen during The Emerging Filmmakers Project on Thursday, September 15th, 2022 at The Bug Theatre.

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Meet the Filmmaker: Benjamin Hunter, “True North”

EFP: Why did you become a filmmaker?

BH: To tell great stories and to connect with people on life events that we can all relate to.  Movies are so engrained in our view of the world and its a great way to bring light to a life skill or experience that someone had.  The second answer is Star Wars got me interested in how to make my own special effects and led me to make my first film.  The rest as they say is history.


EFP: What are we going to see at the EFP? Has it screened elsewhere and what are your plans for it?

BH: True North is a Boy Scout Short film about a young man who is very sure of himself, until he gives away his compass, his map, his water pump and gets lost on a backpacking trip.  Its also a father and son relationship story and how to navigate being adopted and losing a parent.
The film has played at a local premiere back in March of this year and for a special screening at my boy scout troop.  I have submitted it to several festivals here in Colorado and a few abroad.  My plan is to have this available for rental and purchase on my website and to continue showing it to local boy scout troops to talk about the buddy system and getting lost in the mountains.  The moral of the story is tell someone where you are going and when you should be back, so they know when to call for help if you don’t come back in time.

EFP: What else are you working on?

BH: We just received the greenlight to make a documentary about the Yachats Music Festival in Oregon next year.  I will be the Producer on the project and my good friend Jake, who produced True North will be Directing.  That project should be finished by this time next year.
I am also finishing shooting and editing a documentary on Cerebral Palsy, featuring my youngest brother Joshua Hunter.  He lived with Cerebral Palsy his whole life and enjoyed life in spite of the disability, but sadly passed away in 2018.  The film is meant to be an uplifiting message to anyone with a disability, to show them there is hope and you can still live a great life.  Life Matters should be finished by next summer and hopefully will be playing on PBS shortly after that.


EFP: Tell us one weird thing about you and/or your movies?

BH: Up to this point, all of my main characters have been in High School or College.  It might be time to have them “Graduate” and start telling stories about adult characters and their lives after school.


EFP: Where can people go to find out more about you and your work?

BH: They can visit my website here: https://www.33yearsproductions.com/ True North andLife Matters both have a page on the site with more information on the films.


EFP: Is there anything you’d like to say about The Emerging Filmmakers Project?

BH: Its great to be able to show a piece of my work to a group of filmmakers trying to get off the ground just like me.  Denver is full of great indie filmmakers, you just have to look in the right places for them.  Emerging Filmmakers Project is a great way to get feedback on a film and the share it with others in the Denver Area.  Keep up the good work!

True North will screen during The Emerging Filmmakers Project on Thursday, September 15th, 2022 at The Bug Theatre.

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Meet the Filmmaker: Kareem Kamahl Taylor, “Satan Says”

Q: Why did you become a filmmaker?
KT: I grew up watching old black and white films and monster movies with my Mother. She instilled in me an early passion for filmmaking so by the age of 10 I already knew I wanted to make films.

Q: What are we going to see at the EFP? Has it screened elsewhere and what are your plans for it?
KT: The audience will be watching my latest short film production entitled, ‘Satan Says’. It introduces a character named Eric who comes from a magical bloodline that can interact with the spiritual realm and beyond. From the day he was born his best friend was Satan. Our story picks up 25 years later and Eric is reconsidering the closeness of their relationship.

Q: What else are you working on?
KT: I am developing this short film into a full graphic novel series. After the comic book adaption is complete we will go back into production and make a streaming series based on the adaption of the graphic novel series. I am also actively writing new feature-length film scripts that I want to produce and allow some of my fellow filmmakers to direct them.

Q: Tell us one weird thing about you and/or your movies?
KT: I am unable to focus on a film set unless I have a pack of skittles to snack on.

Q: Where can people go to find out more about you and your work?
KT: Right now I can be found on Facebook, Vimeo, and instagram at Digital Darklords,LLC.

Q: Is there anything you’d like to say about The Emerging Filmmakers Project?
KT: I would like to say thank you on behalf of every filmmaker who has screened a film at your festivals. I have seen so many awesome films because of your events and I wish you continued success!

Satan Says will screen during The Emerging Filmmakers Project on Thursday, July 21st, 2022 at The Bug Theatre.

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Meet the Filmmaker: Will Dempster, “Palooka”

Q: Why did you become a filmmaker?
WD: I’ve always loved to pretend to be characters in a movie. Now I love to make those characters and it’s just pure fun to be a part of a film.

Q: What are we going to see at the EFP? Has it screened elsewhere and what are your plans for it?
WD: I wanted to make the most fun to watch short film since most of what I watched online from these indie short festivals were dramas that had no action. Palooka is the funnest film I could think of doing on a very small budget. So I took two locations and said “let’s make a short”. Then created the script.

Q: What else are you working on?
WD: I am directing my first short film “Beast of Burden” July 15th-17th in Denver. The film is about a son trying to get his father to go to an AA meeting.

Q: Tell us one weird thing about you and/or your movies?
WD: I love dancing in films so any film I do I will plan to have someone dancing at some point.

Q: Where can people go to find out more about you and your work?
WD: Currently working on a website but DM my Instagram account willy_demps for updates on my next film!

Q: Is there anything you’d like to say about The Emerging Filmmakers Project?
WD: I’m so excited that this exists and should be in every city! So many good filmmakers out there and lots of good people to meet.

Palooka will screen during The Emerging Filmmakers Project on Thursday, July 21st, 2022 at The Bug Theatre.

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Meet the Filmmaker: Al Vigil, “The Bout”

Q: Why did you become a filmmaker?
AV: I am a filmmaker because I am always bored and films seemed exciting. I love to do it.

Q: What are we going to see at the EFP? Has it screened elsewhere and what are your plans for it?
AV: This is a film I worked on for a couple years after graduation. It’s not been in any festivals besides this so this is technically its World Screen Premeire! It was on a web show actually. Not a screen yet however.

Q: What else are you working on?
AV: I’m working on an experimental music video, an animated adaptation of an obscurer Arabian Night, and I do oil painting. I want to do something westerny in the brush.

The Bout will screen during The Emerging Filmmakers Project 20th Anniversary Celebration on Thursday, June 16th, 2022 at The Bug Theatre.

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Meet the Filmmaker: Jamey Hastings, “Honeybee, your dance partner is death”

Q: Why did you become a filmmaker?
JH: I became enamored with special effects in high school — Star Wars and Jurassic Park and George Melies. Later, I learned what I really love is telling stories of all kinds, and so far none of them have involved dinosaurs or space, but there has been a magician.

Q: What are we going to see at the EFP? Has it screened elsewhere and what are your plans for it?
JH: Honeybee, your dance partner is death was created for a gallery show organized by Thom Phelps titled, Farewell to Bees. The entire show was centered around bringing awareness to the plight of bees. Thom made a giant dead bee sculpture, which was front and center and various bee art surrounded it. This film was playing in the gallery, and offered a bit of soundtrack to the experience. I hope the film inspires people to look up what is happening with honeybees and why they are so important.

Q: What else are you working on?
JH: I am in the finishing stages of a supernatural thriller called, The Dollcatcher.

Q: Tell us one weird thing about you and/or your movies?
JH: At some point 6:15 a.m. became a normal time for me to start working. I still find that kind of weird.

Q: Where can people go to find out more about you and your work?
JH: You May Clap Productions on Facebook and Instagram, my website (http://youmayclap.com/) or Vimeo.

Q: Is there anything you’d like to say about The Emerging Filmmakers Project?
JH: Eeeee! Congrats on 20 years!

Honeybee, your dance partner is death will screen during The Emerging Filmmakers Project 20th Anniversary Celebration on Thursday, May 19th, 2022 at The Bug Theatre.

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Meet the Filmmakers: Amanda E.K. & Jesse Livingston, “Second Surface”

Q: Why did you become a filmmaker?
AMANDA: As a synesthete, I’m drawn to filmmaking because it gives me an opportunity to express my cross-sensory experiences in ways that aren’t possible to convey in writing alone. I love how so many different artistic elements come together in filmmaking.
JESSE: I’ve been obsessed with movies for years. The entire process is fascinating to me. When we were kids, my brother and I would make short films using our stuffed animals.

Q: What are we going to see at the EFP? Has it screened elsewhere and what are your plans for it?
AMANDA: Our first short film, Second Surface, will be screening at the EFP. This will be its first live screening. We’ve been submitting it to local and international film fests.
JESSE: Second Surface is a surreal journey through a dreamlike landscape inspired by Maya Deren’s Meshes of the Afternoon. During the pandemic we needed something we could shoot outdoors with as few actors as possible, so we wrote a story in which a character’s environment mirrors their interior journey.

Q: What else are you working on?
AMANDA: I have four more episodes of The Pandemic in Pollyville web series in the works (of 14 total; Episode 1: The Supermarket screened at EFP last July), as well as a TV show I’m writing and pitching with Jesse. Individually, I’m also pitching a memoir about the impact of growing up in evangelical purity culture, promoting my queer erotica short story collection, and offering one-on-one creative coaching & Reiki sessions.
JESSE: The TV series we’re writing is called Hazelwood. It’s a supernatural mystery inspired by Amanda’s hometown of Storm Lake, Iowa. Other than that, I’m always working on music with The Far Stairs.

Q: Tell us one weird thing about you and/or your movies?
AMANDA: The diary featured in Second Surface was my actual diary from the year 2000, which is filled with a lot of tragic-comic commentary on my life in fundamentalist evangelical Christianity.
JESSE: The mirror we used in Second Surface came from my childhood home. I used to pretend it was a doorway to another world.

Q: Where can people go to find out more about you and your work?
AMANDA: Check out my website AmandaEKwriter.com, or find me on instagram @amanda.ek.writer and @glasscactus_prods. You can watch all of our films on our Glass Cactus YouTube channel.
JESSE: You can check out thefarstairs.com/jesse-livingston to see my previous film projects, music, and writing.

Q: Is there anything you’d like to say about The Emerging Filmmakers Project?
AMANDA: I’m excited to get to know other local filmmakers via the EFP as I seek to expand my community of like-minded creatives.
JESSE: I’m grateful that there are people in Denver who care about film this much and put their energy into spotlighting new talent. Thanks for all your hard work!

Second Surface will screen during The Emerging Filmmakers Project 20th Anniversary Celebration on Thursday, June 16th, 2022 at The Bug Theatre.

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Meet the Filmmaker: Josh Wilson, “Fear of Flying”

Q: Why did you become a filmmaker?
JW: I am a writer first and foremost; of music, comic books, and film. But I have a passion for creating and directing projects as well, and a love for film.

Q: What are we going to see at the EFP? Has it screened elsewhere and what are your plans for it?
JW: This is a short film called Fear of Flying It is a scene from a feature length script that I wrote. It’s about anxiety, phobias, and identity. The feature is called How to Heal and is about a YouTube host who helps people overcome their fears while being themself afraid to leave their apartment.

Q: What else are you working on?
JW: I just released a graphic novel called Twilight Custard, and am working on a few more comic projects. As far as the film world, I am trying to meet friends and collaborators here in the Denver area to create with. I’ve written three short films recently and would love to work with some people locally to make one or all of them happen. My ultimate goal is to find a team to make a contained feature length film.

Q: Tell us one weird thing about you and/or your movies?
JW: I usually find my ideas from unusual places. I like to find the smallest kernel of something and pull it apart into story. My novel Twilight Custard came from a random band name generator online. I loved the title so much, I had to figure out what it meant.

Q: Where can people go to find out more about you and your work?
JW: The best places at the moment are Instagram at @joshwilsoncreates, and Twitter @joshuadwuane

Q: Is there anything you’d like to say about The Emerging Filmmakers Project?
JW: I think this is such a wonderful thing that you all are doing, and I am so thankful to be a part of it. Independent art in any medium is so much better with a community of people willing to lift each other up. Don’t hesitate to reach out to me, or come up to me at this event. I’m excited to meet everyone, and can’t wait to see what we make together.

Fear of Flying will screen during The Emerging Filmmakers Project 20th Anniversary Celebration on Thursday, June 16th, 2022 at The Bug Theatre.

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Meet the Filmmaker: Frances McIlvain, “Julia’s New Friend”

Q: Why did you become a filmmaker?
FM: I was one of those kids where you couldn’t get me to talk about anything besides Star Wars. I’d come home and sit in front of this little portable DVD player and, after the fourth or fifth viewing of the movie you start to veer into the bonus features, so there I was at six years old watching these behind the scenes videos learning what film composers and model builders and sound designers do. It was this Wizard of Oz pulling back the curtain moment where I realized regular people made movies. I spent about three years from that point just waiting to get my hands on a camera so I could get a couple of friends together and make it happen. I suppose it was hereditary, too. My uncle was a visual effects artist, and I remember the first time getting to read his name in the credits watching Spider-Man 3. He studied animation in Emeryville, and my dad graduated from the same program. My dad really was the first person who taught me how to storyboard, and he kinda guided my hand as I was figuring out, you know, that movies are shot out of sequence and you shoot from these angles and then you put it all together in the computer afterward. I’ve been very lucky to be a part of a family that was encouraging of that. My mom really wanted to drill into my head that making movies was something you could go to school for. She’d always bring up the South Park creators, because they met at CU Boulder, and Matt Stone grew up right in Littleton, which is where I’m from.

Q: What are we going to see at the EFP? Has it screened elsewhere and what are your plans for it?
FM: Julia’s New Friend is a film I made last spring. It was the final for my sophomore production class at the University of Colorado Denver. It’s a coming-of-age story, I guess you could call it a dramedy. The movie follows this girl, she’s a bit stunted developmentally, and she’s starting her freshman year of high school and she builds this kind of crude mannequin out of tubing and paper mache. She treats the doll, very sincerely, like a real person, which is cute at first, but it causes a rift between her and her mom, and the movie is really about exploring the peculiarities of that mother-daughter relationship. It played at my college’s film festival last year, which was virtual due to COVID, so this will be the first time the film’s screened in front of a live audience, which is exciting. There’s a handful of festivals it’s in contention for right now, but it’s been on YouTube for a year. I don’t really like to be exclusive with my films, or to spend months tinkering around with it after I’ve shot it. The process is very personal to me, on top of being totally consuming- part of it is just about getting to have a life again. So to me, whenever the movie comes out, that’s when it was supposed to come out. I was born two months premature, so I guess that has something to do with it. I will say, I’ve learned a lot about film sound in the last year, but when I was cutting the film I didn’t know a lick of Audition and I just didn’t really have the time to get into the fine details of the audio like that. That’s the one part that I look back at and cringe a little. Maybe for the five-year anniversary or something, I’ll do a whole new sound mix and CGI some snow into the sledding scene, like how George Lucas would do it.

Q: What else are you working on?
FM: I cut a film in March that I think will be finished by the time this is out. It’s called You Can Say It and it was directed by a young actress named Taylor Husser. It was my first time editing a film that wasn’t directed by me, which was a whole new discipline. I’m assuming Taylor wants to do a festival run for that, and I’m really hoping some places pick it up. Taylor has, especially for a first-time filmmaker, a very astute sense of framing, and Porter Hunt, who I go to school with, was director of photography and he did a great job as always. I have a couple of scripts that I’m into, I won’t get into the details of all of them. I had some conversations about a project earlier this year with some producers and cinematographers and production designers, but it didn’t get past the development stage. I’ll be going back to school in the fall, where I’ll be in the junior production class, and I might pitch something there, because it’s generally easier to get movies made with the support of the school. Whatever happens, I’ll surely be bouncing around a few sets, and I think I can convince some of my classmates to let me do some editing or sound effects for them. I’ve really begun to enjoy doing sound design for shorts.

Q: Tell us one weird thing about you and/or your movies?
FM: Well, I like to inject a little surrealism into everything I do, because it’s one of the few languages I understand well. Even with Julia, which I knew from the beginning was going to be a lot more grounded than anything I had done before, I designed Ed like I would design anything else, which is to say he’s a little funny looking. He creeps some people out, but that’s what I like about him. I have a different idea of what beauty is, and I think Julia does too. She’s used to being othered and feeling different from everyone else, so I think she takes comfort in having a friend who’s abnormal. I couldn’t imagine her pulling out a ruler and drawing out a grid on his face and trying to fill in every little line and edge perfectly. Julia’s whole deal is a rejection of that sort of thing.

Q: Where can people go to find out more about you and your work?
FM: My website is frannyquacks.myportfolio.com. It has my resume, and there are a few movies that get their own page. I have kind of a miscellaneous section, with some bits that aren’t really narratives, but it’s me toying around with montage and sound design and such. In each page, I put some parts of the scripts I’ve written, and there’s a lot of storyboards.

Q: Is there anything you’d like to say about The Emerging Filmmakers Project?
FM: I’d say to any filmmaker who is looking to get their movie in front of an audience that EFP is the first place they should go. They really promote variety in their programming and the whole thing is arranged in a way that places the filmmakers front and center. I came to their March screening this year and I loved the atmosphere and the sense of hospitality they created. I have to shout out, too, they closed the night with Cassidy Blues, which is a brilliant film. It’s the brainchild of two men, Richard Corso and Kareem Kamahl Taylor. They brought the house down, deservedly.

Julia’s New Friend will screen during The Emerging Filmmakers Project 20th Anniversary Celebration on Thursday, June 16th, 2022 at The Bug Theatre.