By Christopher Smith
Overweight co-workers competing to be the first to “sext” an annoying boss’ wife from the boss’ phone. A failed attempt to bring art into the life of a homeless drifter. Overcoming the death of a child. And the murderous rampage of “Pigman.”
The films in the 2013 selection at the third annual Firehouse Film Festival, which were shown to the public Friday and Saturday at Dalton Little Theatre on Pentz Street, were nothing if not eclectic.
That’s the point, said film festival chairman Chase Parker.
“There’s a demand for it,” Parker said. “Even if it’s a small group of us that gets together to watch, on a large screen, these independent films with family, friends and neighbors — well — it’s worth it.”
The film festival, which began in 2011 as the brainchild of Sarah Parsons and Holly Hammontree, has grown over the years, Parker said. Griffin Stover, a Murray County High School junior and director of a serial killer movie “Bystander,” said he hopes it continues growing.
“It’s a great thing,” Stover said. “Film is a personal experience with personal references crushed into a visual aid. And we’re all coming together to share that with each other. It’s good.”
Robert Evans of Rossville, who directed “To Fight,” agreed.
“I love the fact that people can get their stuff out and show it and people can see what there is around here,” he said.
His film, which details a boxer’s struggle to overcome the death of his child, wasn’t something Evans initially wanted to do. But it was worth it, Evans said.
“You’ve got to be crazy to make film,” he said. “It’s literally weeks and weeks of hell for 10 minutes of enjoyment. But hearing the applause is why you do it. It’s almost your drug.”
A drug and a passion, Stover said.
“Everyone in the area coming together for this,” he said. “It’s great to see support to other filmmakers.”
Hearing applause after showing his work is nice, Stover said, and he’d like more of it, hoping to get a career in the film industry when he graduates high school.
Chris Willis, an audience member and mass communication professor at Chattanooga State Community College, said anyone who wants to get a career in film needs to “just start shooting.”
“You could do anything that you’re doing in film school on your own for a whole lot less money, so start shooting,” he said.
And after shooting, submit your film, Parker said.
“My hope is that local artists continue to find a place in their hometown to show their film,” he said.
But the festival isn’t just about showing local films, Parker said.
“The festival serves another function,” he said. “Bringing in films across the country and the world that have different ideas, different styles of art, different philosophical and cultural ideas to the community.”
Parker said expanding the festival will be nice, pointing out mega-festival South by Southwest in Austin, Texas, started out small, too. But getting bigger isn’t the point, he added.
“If we become a large hub ... that draws thousands of people or a small town festival that draws hundreds of people, both are fine,” he said. “Every director, I’m sure, that makes a short film would like to have it headlined at (huge festivals). At the same time, filmmakers, I think, want to have a venue to show their friends and family their work without having to find someone with a garage they can clean out.”
Although that can be nice too, Parker said.
“God knows we’ve done that several times,” he said. “It’s wonderful to do and a lot of fun in those settings ... but you still only get close friends and family with those. You can’t invite the community at large to that. And we think it’s a treat to feature North Georgia artists.”
Featuring films and directors isn’t the work of one person, Parker said.
“For all the members of the committee (which oversees selection and organization the event) it has been rewarding,” he said. “This thing keeps moving because of their expertise and their passion.”