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Sanford film festival promotes local filmmakers, businesses

Contributing Writer

Published: Monday, February 13, 2012

Updated: Monday, February 13, 2012 18:02

People from all ages and different places piled into the Wayne Densch Performing Arts Center Friday night, Feb. 10 for the opening night of the Love Your Shorts Film Festival. Located in historic downtown Sanford, the film festival was sponsored by many local businesses in the hopes of bringing more people to the city.

"We are proud to bring the festival to Sanford and bring awareness to the city," Christina Grace-Beverly, media director of the festival said.

The festival took place from Feb. 10-12 showing films in different genres ranging from documentary, drama, comedy, sci-fi/horror and animation. Opening night, "e" for everyone and Florida flavor were the other three categories.

"Categories like opening night and Florida flavor were also great for films that did not necessarily fit any of the other genres," Grace-Beverly said.

After receiving 220 films from 15 different countries, the board of directors selected 70 films to be shown at the film festival.

Grace-Beverly said each film was selected based on a score of evaluations from the programming committee which she was a member of.

Each category had a block time of about 90 minutes. Members of the audience voted for their favorite film. The winners of each category continued to compete in the "Best of the Fest" Sunday night where the ultimate winner was selected by their panel of judges. The judges' occupations ranged from film critics to professors to members of the Screen Actors Guild, including UCF assistant professor of film Lisa Mills.

Two UCF film majors screened their films at the festival. Senior Eric Coppa-Cross began in the opening night category with his film Italian Life while Lindsay Garvin took home the award in the category "e" for everyone with her film Bubblegum Smackers.

From recasting actors to moving shots in the back of a van, Coppa-Cross told the audience of his thoughts on the filmmaking process.

"It's amazing how things all fall into place," Coppa-Cross said.

Both Coppa-Cross and Garvin filmed portions of their films in Sanford, proving Grace-Beverly's point that Sanford makes a great set for films.

"I went to Rollins to promote the festival and I asked the students if any of them had been to Sanford. Only about one or two said they had," Grace-Beverly said. "We want to bring out more people to Sanford and see what we're about."

Other directors at the film festival shared experiences with their filmmaking process. The only film representative for the comedy block on Saturday night, Robin Reed writer and main actress of Mommy Wars: Battle for the Playground, shared the production process of her film and where she's headed next.

According to Reed, her eight-minute film took a total of eight months to complete, the writing being the longest portion.

"It took me a grueling six months to complete writing the script. Which sounds ridiculous when the films only eight minutes long," Reed laughs. "It took another three weeks to film in New York and one month in post-production and editing."

From New York, Reed traveled to Sanford to spread the word of her film.

"I actually didn't know it was a competition," Reed said. "I made this short in the hopes that it could be either a pitch for a sitcom or a web series. I submitted the film to ten festivals and so far it has been accepted into two."

Promoting unknown films and filmmakers like Reed is one of the goals for the film festival. According to their official website, the mission of the Love Your Shorts Film Festival is to "encourage, promote, and recognize the art of original short films in Sanford, Florida."

Grace-Beverly has a similar mission for the film festival.

"My long-term goal is that once money and finances are fine that we help promote local filmmakers," Grace-Beverly said. "Sanford is a great setting for films and many films were made here." Grace-Beverly said.

Missed out on the Love Your Shorts Film Festival? According to Grace-Beverly, they'll have a "summer rewind" where some of the audience and committee's favorite films of the festival will be screened. Dates and information on the summer rewind has yet to be released.  

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