Posts Tagged ‘Helen Stephenson’

  • Lens flare: A look at (and behind) the 2016 Prescott Film Festival

    By Helen Stephenson Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes. … David Bowie’s 1971 song “Changes” is pretty much the unofficial theme for the behind-the-scenes organization and running of the Prescott Film Festival this year. And change is definitely good. When the Prescott Film Festival started with a monthly series in 2009, high quality digital projection didn’t exist in Prescott. And that was bad news for an indie film fest. However, the fest was given the use of the old Frontier Village 10 Cine, a space to store equipment, and voila — Digital projection in Prescott! And look where we are now, in the midst of a land of digital plenty. Before digital came along, festivals had to order prints of films to screen (you know, those heavy metal movie cases) and pay shipping both ways. If the film broke, there was no back up. Exhibition format is only one change to the film industry. Digital distribution direct to consumers has been taking off like a rock the last few years (err, like rockets used to take off before NASA’s space shuttle program got the ax). That’s great for filmmakers, who have more opportunities for monetizing their creations, as well as for viewers, who have a wider range of film choices. However, one of the negative side effects of this change is that the window for film festivals is quickly narrowing. For the Prescott Film Festival,

  • An animated life: Considering Lindsay Bane

    By Helen Stephenson Cartoons. If you’re “of a certain age” you remember Betty Boop, and Bugs Bunny. Then there’s Gumby, Tintin, Woody Woodpecker, Yogi Bear, The Flintstones, Mr. Magoo, Scooby Doo — and the list goes on to present day, when Pixar, Disney, and Dreamworks are still creating beautiful animation with well-told (though often rehashed) stories. The songs that come with many of the films have a tendency to become deeply embedded in our collective consciousness’s. (Dare we suggest you just, “Let it Go”?) Beyond animation by the big studios, the art form consistently pops up in marketing, advertising, and web design. New careers are emerging in the field including forensic animation, which is used in court cases, medical procedure animation, biochemistry, and military animation. It’s a broad field. Lindsay Bane, animation and film history professor at Yavapai College’s Film and Media Arts program, works in commercial applications for animation. She has produced and created animation for one of the top creative agencies in the U.S., TAG Creative, (L’Oreal, Maybelline). Beyond that she wears many other hats (and sometimes a butterfly …). She has her own production company, Banehood, and has been an associate producer for the Academy award-winning production company Cabin Creek Films (Miss Sharon Jones!). But at the center of each part of her life are passion, creativity, and professionalism. “There’s virtually no story that can’t be told

  • Real to reel: Finding fun for future film stars

    By Helen Stephenson It’s almost summer, which is … blockbuster movie season. We’re running to the theater to watch the new “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” movie, (yes, really), “Warcraft,” “Ghostbusters,” “Independence Day: Resurgence,” “Ben Hur,” “Pete’s Dragon.” See a theme here? Hollywood is living off the bones of old stories, relentlessly re-booting, sequel-ing and prequel-ing their film slates. Why? Movies are huge business run by corporations and committees that include accountants who are averse to risk and not prone to originality. Where does that leave original film ideas? Enter independent film. Every summer, the Prescott Film Festival brings unique indie films, free workshops, guest filmmakers, and more to town. This year, during the festival, teens have a chance to express their own creative and unique ideas via a one-week intensive Filmmaker Boot Camp. There will be two sessions. The first is July 11-14 at the Yavapai College Verde Valley Campus. The second is July 18-21 at the Prescott Campus. Student created films from both sessions will screen the final day of the Prescott Film Festival, July 24. Future auteurs start the week with basic film terminology and crew positions. Next, they watch and discuss high quality short films and learn about the visual language of film, dialogue, and editing. Camera language, coverage, and then screenwriting will be covered. And that’s only Day One — whew! The rest of the week

  • Calling all actors: Fresh talents seek fresh faces

    By Helen Stephenson Student filmmakers from the Yavapai College Film and Media Arts Program are looking for “A Few Good Men” (and women!). The Yavapai College film program is centered in Clarkdale on the Verde Valley Campus. Students have been taking classes on screenwriting, editing, camera coverage, and sound design. Scripts were written throughout the semester. The competition was fierce on which two would be shot this fall. Both of the chosen films are comedies. “Pennant People,” written and directed by Diana Stoneberg, and “Malcolm in the End,” written and directed by Nicholas (Niko) Contreras. The resulting films will be edited and “in the can” by the end of the semester. The films will then be put on the film festival circuit. Students will be working on their thesis films throughout the spring semester, which starts in mid-January. These films will be shot across Yavapai County, depending on locations necessitated by the scripts. Spring semester students will be looking for a broad range of ages and “looks” for their actors. Actors do not need to have experience in film. Interested actors should email FilmSchool@YC.Edu with “ACTOR” in the subject line. Attach a brief bio and one head shot. Are you “ready for your close-up?” ***** Helen Stephenson is the director of the Yavapai College Film and Media Arts Program and executive director and founder of the Prescott Film Festival, where

  • Hyde & seek: Storied film a storied treat

    By Helen Stephenson It’s time for Halloween and that means things that go bump in the night, Mt. Vernon decorated with spooky or fall-themed houses, pumpkin lattes at Starbucks, and a silent film with live accompaniment from the Prescott Film Festival. This year, the festival is screening the 1920 John Barrymore version of “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.” This version of Robert Louise Stevenson’s 1886 classic tale is considered by many to be the first horror film ever made. It’s also the film that skyrocketed John Barrymore to stardom. Barrymore didn’t want to follow in his family’s footsteps — his father Maurice, mother Georgiana, sister Ethel and brother Lionel were all actors — but eventually he started working on the stage. His sister Ethel got him acting jobs, and occasionally supported him financially as well. He lived a life of, well, old-fashioned debauchery. Kicked out of many schools, many times for drinking. There’s a long-standing rumor that he was kicked out of one school for being caught in line at a brothel. That begs the question: Who else from the school was in the brothel line? He actually wanted to be an artist, and did illustrations for the New York Evening Journal. He was eventually fired for being drunk and turning in a poor quality illustration. He knew that the acting jobs paid more, and his family could get him

  • A shorts history: Findings on first films

    By Helen Stephenson Short films. Fantastic bits of celluloid (or, more common today, bits and bytes). This art form continues to grow and gain popularity. Why do filmmakers make short films? For many filmmakers, a short film is a calling card to prove their storytelling skills. Can they direct? Light? Tell a story? The proof is in the film. How can audiences support these filmmakers? There are several ways. First, if you see a short film you like, and it becomes available on iTunes or some other platform, spend a couple of dollars and purchase it. Nothing shows support for the arts like cash! Short filmmakers also want live input from audiences, and what better way to do that than at a film fest? This month, the Prescott Film Festival will once again be supporting and showcasing the art of independent short films when they present the annual Manhattan Short Film Festival, 6:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 25 at the Yavapai College Performing Arts Center. These short films follow a long tradition in filmmaking. The very first films ever were short films. Who made the first film? Film scholars credit Frenchman Louis Le Prince with that honor. (Though Thomas Edison tried his best to take the credit.) The first film, “Roundhay Garden Scene,” was shot in 1888. This was simply a scene of Le Prince’s family walking around the garden. The

  • Reboot!: Yavapai College relaunches film program

    By Helen Stephenson “I’ll be back.” OK, not an Arnold Schwarzenegger sequel but just as cool: The Yavapai College film program is back. It’s been relocated, renamed, and retooled. Formerly the Sedona Film School at Yavapai College, the updated program has been dubbed the Film and Media Arts Program. The program’s core is located on the Verde Valley Campus in Clarkdale with some classes online and via streaming. How many ways has the film and media business changed since the film program launched in 2000? Let me count the ways: Netflix (OK, that was 1999 but it didn’t really get legs for a few years), YouTube, Hulu, Amazon Prime … and the list continues. Executive Dean Dr. James Perey had a vision: He wanted to see how we could revamp the program and asked me to explore how other colleges run their film and media programs. What we found was that it’s nearly impossible for colleges to keep up with the quickly changing equipment for film and media (unless you’re USC, UCLA, NYU, or Dodge Film School). On top of that, jobs that our graduates will be hired for will use a wide variety of equipment. So, it’s not economically feasible, nor really (in my opinion) logical, to spend your budget for the latest cameras and computers. This was confirmed when we spoke with Bethany Rooney, a director for shows

  • Opportunities: For indie films, filmmakers

    By Helen Stephenson As the Prescott Film Festival moves closer to its sixth annual event, things are gearing up on all fronts: programming, event planning for parties, special events, and a few surprises. At the core of the activity is coordinating volunteer needs, including new volunteer opportunities. At 2 p.m. Saturday, April 25 come join the folks at the Prescott Film Festival as they appreciate last year’s volunteers and welcome new friends to help support and celebrate the art of independent film. There will be snacks plus a few great short films. (Want to know what they are? Attend and find out for yourself!) Prescott Film Festival submissions for all filmmakers are open through April 15. Submissions for the High School Film Competition are open through May 19th. If you know of a high school student who’s a budding filmmaker, please urge them to submit. The High School Student Film Competition is a new part of the annual festival. The film fest is held on the campus of Yavapai College. One of the reasons it was created was to bring students onto a college campus in a fun, engaging, and positive environment. This exposure could open their minds to higher education, and may just encourage them to attend college themselves. Students are housed in the dorms and eat in the cafeteria, giving them the full campus experience. Arizona ranked 40th

  • Happy Oscars! … And Valentine’s Day

    By Helen Stephenson There’s a huge party, and you’re invited! February marks a tradition at the Prescott Film Festival — namely, Oscar Month. Each February, the festival screens as many Oscar-nominated films as possible. Screenings culminate in “An Evening at the Academy Awards,” where the event is broadcast live at the Yavapai College Performing Arts Center. The broadcast itself is, ahem, free. However, if you’d like to support the Prescott Film Festival, please come early for the “Pre-Oscar Cocktail Party.” Tickets are $50 for the party and reserved seats in the auditorium, plus two drinks. If you want to go all-out, there are just 16 tickets available in the VIP suites. These film festival supporters get a swag Bag, reserved seats in the VIP suites, additional drinks and special treats, along with their own waiters. This year, the film festival got a jump on Oscar Month by screening two films before nominations were announced: “Boyhood,” with six and “Ida” with two. As we’re writing this article at the last moment possible, nominations were just announced. Organizers are busily writing to distributors and producers to see which films they can bring to Prescott in February. We do know we will be screening all of the Oscar-nominated short films. Animated films include Disney’s “Feast,” which is about a rescue dog observing the romantic life of a new couple, “My Single Life,” which

  • Nun, the wiser

    By Helen Stephenson “Riveting, original and breathtakingly accomplished on every level, “Ida” would be a masterpiece in any era, in any country.” — Godfrey Cheshire, RogerEbert.Com “Ida” is Poland’s entry into this year’s Oscar race for Best Foreign Film. The movie is shaping up to be a favorite, featured on many short lists from critics across the country. The Prescott Film Festival features the film at 6:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 17 at the Yavapai College Performing Arts Center. Tickets are $10 for general admission and $5 for students. The film, which takes place in 1960s Poland, is about a young novitiate nun who, on the verge of taking her vows, discovers a dark family secret dating from the terrible years of the Nazi occupation. An orphan brought up in a convent, she is preparing to become a nun. But, before she takes her vows, the Mother Superior insists she first visit her sole living relative. Naïve, innocent Anna soon finds herself in the presence of her Aunt Wanda, a worldly and cynical Communist Party insider, who shocks her with the declaration that her real name is Ida and her Jewish parents were murdered during the Nazi occupation. Kimberly Gadett writes of the film: “‘Ida’ should be required viewing for all budding filmmakers. Rather than relying on any preceding work that had been driven by the written word, director Pawel Pawlikowski and

Celebrating art and science in Greater Prescott.

↓ More ↓