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    The Louisville Film Society (LFS) and other film groups in Louisville have been busy lately, and our city shows more industry promise than ever. A wave of chatter and excitement was set in motion when Governor Beshear signed a bill for a new and improved film incentives package on May 7, and it all came to a head at the recent film celebration  hosted by LFS executive director Soozie Eastman with Governor Beshear and Mayor Fisher at the Kentucky Center for the Arts on August 14, 2015.  

    Over 300 people gathered with the political leaders to hear announcements from the Kentucky Film Office and local filmmaking leaders as the Kentucky Film Commission Office announced ads they've placed in industry publications to create a wave of interest for Kentucky.  They also showcased promo videos made to entice filmmakers. These efforts seem to be working, according to the Film Commission representatives,  there have been nine film projects approved for the incentives this year, totaling over 8 million dollars in local expenditures. That number more than doubles the four large films that came to our state through the film office in the four previous years (2010 - 2014) combined.  Mayor Fisher was eager to invite both locals and national filmmakers to embrace Louisville. 

    "We're ready to party with you, cowboy," concluded Fisher as the audience rose to their feet. He looked over to Governor Beshear and continued, "I see. You get several standing ovations; I have to quote Bill Murray."

    Fisher made the good-natured joke just before he signed the executive order to appoint 17 locals to the newly formed Louisville Film Commission. The Commission is of a group of filmmakers and enthusiasts dedicated to improving the film community in Louisville. Louisville filmaker Stu Pollard also took the stage to encourage Louisville Film Society membership as he announced some of the opportunities coming for our city, including workshops and learning opportunities that will strengthen the crew available here and create an even stronger local industry. 

    It was First Lady of Kentucky Jan Beshear who received the largest ovation as everyone jumped to their feet and eagerly applauded her approach to the stage. "We all know the kind of talent that comes from Kentucky," she said. (Our state has been home to many talents like Ashley Judd, Johnny Depp, George Clooney, Jerry Bruckheimer and others.) "We want them to come back. We don't want anyone to have to leave at all."

    Although Jan Beshear has been the main political driving force behind the film-friendly legislation, many filmmakers and lovers have pushed for years to achieve the rewarding results. Louisville filmmakers like Archie Borders and Pollard have long touted the many types of locations available in Kentucky. but many actors and crew members (like multiple award winning writer/actor/director Vin Morreale who has produced both features and international documentaries here) have moved out of state or at least spent a fair amount of time working in other cities to make a living. Many hope that is all about to change. Louisiana, Florida, North Carolina and Michigan have recently dropped their film incentive packages, making our state very enticing to large productions. 


    Louisville Film Commission

    The Louisville Film Commission's promo video "Why Do Filmmakers Love Louisville?" Produced by 180 Degrees and Louisville Forward.

    Posted by Louisville Film Society on Sunday, August 16, 2015

    Our Filmmakers 

    Previous scarcity of a good film incentive packages hasn't kept passionate filmmaking from happening in Kentucky. Hobbyists and professionals alike continue to tell great stories here every day. The Kentucky films wikipedia page shares an incomplete and very small sampling of the films made here. The film "Runoff" was shown at the film celebration as a testament to what Kentucky can offer filmmakers. It was filmed in Kentucky by native Kimberly Levin and utilized many local farms and talent. It saw theatrical release in 15 cities and is now available online. 

    Some of the more well-known filmmakers in town have produced multiple feature length films or video projects here. Archie Borders directed "Paper Cut" and "Reception to Follow" before forming  180 degrees with fellow filmmaker Michael Fitzer. The company's most recent film "Pleased to Meet Me" screened at Cannes Film Festival and has now hit international markets. They made a television pilot ("Undead Survival") last year and are currently in development of two feature length films. "Still Perfect" is adapted from a short documentary they made for Kosair's Children's Hospital.

    Gil Holland's production company "The Group Entertainment" has a long and notable list of released and award-winning films, including "Hurricane Streets"(the first film to ever win three Sundance Film Festival awards) and the documentary "Maidentrip" (won at SXSW festival.) Their film "Where Hope Grows" just finished filming, and their website lists several projects in development. 

    Stu Pollard made his directorial debut with a romantic comedy about Louisville's dating scene called "Nice Guys Sleep Alone." The film was carried on HBO, broadcast in over one dozen countries and received press in USA Today, TIME, and Variety. Pollard has made several films since then and continues to work in the film industry and with Louisville Film Society. His production company Lunacy Unlimited  has an informative area on their website for other filmmakers.

    Hart-Lunsford Pictures sources material from Kentucky and is based in Louisville, though they work with production crews from New York and Los Angeles. Hart Lunsford's pictures have been featured at festivals like Sundance, Tribeca, and Toronto Film Festival, and received awards including the Sundance Audience Award and the International Critics Prize at the Festival of American Cinema in Deauville, France.

    Butchertown's Thoughtfly Studios have produced two feature films and a documentary here ("Overtime", "Loss Prevention" and "Monsters Wanted"). Outrider Studios (Drew Ingram, Hunter Curry) recently released a trailer for a television pilot about coal miners revolting against the mine owners ("Blackstone") after the screening of their short film "Roman Citizen" with Italian writer/director Luca Elmi. Craig Everett Earl is about to see DVD and Blu Ray release of his film "Intrusion" in October through SGL entertainment. He's just one shot away from completing the sequel. John Coulter made "The Old Winter" here, and it just screened at Keystone Cinemas in Bardstown, Kentucky.

    Paranormal and horror icons The Booth Brothers made "Death Tunnel" and the documentary "Spooked"  at Waverly Hills Sanatorium. They also utilized Kentucky crew for their latest SyFy Channel exclusive "Dead Still." Producer Christopher Booth recently relocated full time to Louisville with his Indiana native wife.



    Several noteworthy documentary projects are also connected to Kentucky and Louisville. Ben Evans and his team racked up the festival awards with "Your Environmental Road Trip" Evans is currently making a feature-length documentary about the Solar Roadways project that raised $2.2 million dollars through crowd sourcing for their solar energy producing glass roads. The Emmy-nominated "Deep Down" was made in Kentucky by Jen Gilomen and Sally Rubin of Fine Line Films. Kertis Creative produces documentaries from Smoketown.  Peter Byck made the entertaining film "Carbon Nation." Tony Susnick is a film historian and has two feature length documentaries under his belt, while Sheri Wright is in post production of her documentary "Tracking Fire."

    Louisville is no stranger to new media video production, either. Tim Gooch and friends had a successful run with their web series "Brothers Barbarian." Wil Heuser produces another popular Youtube channel:  "The Wil Show."  Pixel Brain Productions releases geeky entertainment and a comedy series known as "Bagged and Bored " that features local comedians.

    Locally-made short films also pepper the internet. Award winning cinematographer and photographer Antonio Pantoja has a series of short films online. He also  brings his cinematic style to commercial work like this ad for Nightmare Forest.  John Maynard gathered over 300,000 views with his short film "Nearly Dead", which  featured many local actors and won "best comedy" at the 2013 World Independent Film Expo.  Shaughn Tillman made an inspiring short film about Louisville athlete Lindy Barber.  Evan Peters released "The Poster" and "Wheelchair Defender" several years ago, showing strong storytelling skills.


    Nearly Dead from Jonathan Maynard on Vimeo.

    Max Moore premiered his first short film in June and is submitting it to worldwide festivals, but he has really been making a name for himself with music videos with over 30 productions this year alone. He's brought 18 bands and artists from as far as New Jersey and California to shoot in the Bluegrass state. He recently signed on as a director with a division of Lark Creative, one of the top music video representation companies in the world.  

    He's not the only one making music videos, either. Matt Fulks recently released this Houndmouth video.  Pantoja made a video for A Lion Named Roar, and  filmmaker Brennan Clark crossed an item off his bucket list when his submission won a music video contest for his favorite band  Primus. Herschel Zahnd produced this video for Ari Mac. Local musician and Wax Fang bassist Jacob Heustis collaborated with filmmaker Ryan Daly on the music video for "Blonde Leading the Blonde," which was premiered on  Conan O' Brien's Team Coco site and was recently shown by Ideas 40203 at Tech Fest Lou.  

    There's also a fair amount of film hobbyists in Kentucky. Harley Morris premiered "Nailed Down"  at the Grand Film Festival, Dustin Meyers finished his second film "Early Year of a Statue,"  and artist Clay Sisk has been making short narratives and documentaries

    We have a good base of young filmmakers, too. Matthew Rivera and Evan Sennett  have released four short films and found their way into several festivals including the Cannes Film Festival. High School senior Cody Mathis shoots videos with his go pro and drone. He's also written or run camera on comedy sketches.  High Schooler Angelo Thomas gathered an impressive list of industry professionals to help with an animated Wizard of Oz film, and Zach Trusty works with many local crews. Trusty also shot and edited this "Retribution" trailer. 

    There are always filmmakers working to raise funds and cast for new projects, too. Charlie Wagner is currently fundraising for his project "Dino and Ruby."  Auditions are being held for a short film "Red Tie" by John Wheeler at Open Gallery on Sunday 8/30 from 12 to 5 pm. Other auditions are often posted in  Louisville Talent  or Casting Louisville Facebook groups.  VSM Entertainment also offers casting services with a free audition board. 

    There is a fair amount of interest in experimental and artistic film as well. A group of photographers got together to do a stop motion with body painter and make up artist Steve O.   Camera Lucida is a collaborative effort between videographer Roxell Karr and cellist Jon Silpayamanant that mixes interactive video projection, dance and music. Local photographer Joe Mays has long experimented with light painting bodies, and he is experimenting with methods of oil lamp projection techniques on video for an event with Art Sanctuary in October where Andy Warhol films will be shown, including the hard-to-acquire "Chelsea Girls."

    Enthusiast and filmmaker Chadwick Thomas hosts The 48 Hour Film Project Louisville festival, which has put out quite a list of award winning local films like "Palinoia" by Fulks; "Cold Cut Reality" and others by Weekend Chocolate Warriors Cash on Delivery by  Boom Roasted; Meet the Baldersons by Philip Metzger, and "The Paper Tiger" by Pantoja and Clay Cook.  Jon Ben Lacey's Team Team! had their film "Pride on the Ropes"  screened at Filmapalooza and  recognized in the top 25 best internationally. There is also a 48 Hour Horror Film Project in October.

    Our state offers quite a few festivals for filmmakers.  If Film is coming up. Formerly known as Flyover Film Festival, it's become part of the popular Idea Festival.  The launch party is September 15, and the festival screenings are October 1 - 4, 2015.
    Film Programs, Resources, and Groups
    Professional Groups:
    Educational Resources:
    Jefferson Community and Technical Colleges (JCTC) has a digital filmmaking option. 
    Western Kentucky University has a film program with an exciting "study away" program with Sundance.
    The Film Connection "hands on" training program has locations in Lexington, Louisville, Paducah and Bowling Green. 
    Other colleges in Kentucky have Communications programs that teach about broadcasting and video.
    Interest Groups
    Gore Club gets together every night at Seidenfaden's to watch horror, sci-fi, and cult films
    LIFA meets the third Thursday of every month as a collective of film bohemians, hobbyists, pros and the curious at Open Gallery
    Online Groups:
    Funding was co-founded by Louisville actor and writer William Mapother Jr. It is a website meant to connect filmmakers with funding. 
    This is surely just a small cross section of all that is going on. With all of the film resources and passion already available in Kentucky, it's easy to imagine a community that will continue to grow and put our state on the map. Could Louisville be the next Hollywood? What do you think? 
    Photography: Header Image by Gary Barragan: Cinematographer Antonio Pantoja follows actors Joshua Loren (adult) and Emmett King during the 48 Hour Film Project for his film "Awakening." 
    Top right: photo by Philip Metzger: Mayor Fisher signs the executive order for the Louisville Film Commission as the appointees stand behind him.
    Center left (submitted by Clark): filmmakers Kyle Crews (left) and Brennan Clark (right) on set of their Primus music video.
    Center right (submitted by Tillman):  Lindy Barber talks about breaking her back during Crossfit.
    Jessica Lynn's picture

    About Jessica Lynn

    Jessica Lynn has been writing for since fall of 2010 and has also been published in LEO, Velocity, Voice-Tribune and others after serving as Editor in Chief of The JCC student newspaper, The Quadrangle. She has also served as columnist or contributing writer to an array of online publications.

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