After a couple of chance encounters with local independent filmmakers and a production company recently, I decided that I could do more to support and spotlight independent film in central Ohio. With first run of the Cowtown Film Series happening tonight, it seemed like a good opportunity to make good on that intent. So I got a hold of Peter John Ross, filmmaker and one of the main forces behind the series, to talk about not only this event but the independent film scene in Columbus.
What is the Cowtown Film Series? How long has it been around and what inspired you to establish it?
The Cowtown Film Series is a screening series of Ohio made movies in an actual movie theater that otherwise not get the chance. We started in 2009 with a 10 week run of 11 feature films, and this year it is a collection of short films from Central Ohio Filmmakers.
What type of films can we look forward to in the series?
There’s the award winning science fiction series AIDAN 5 from John Jackson and Ben Bays, and they are premiering the 2nd episode of their webseries at Cowtown before it goes online. There’s the sitcom TWO DOORS DOWN from Louie Cowan, a holocaust documentary from Brandy Seymour, and several other dramas and comedies from various filmmakers. There’s 20 short films, some 1 minute, and some are over 20 minutes, but it’s a wide variety of movies, all of great quality.
What is the Columbus independent film scene like right now? What are the best ways for those interested in local independent film to seek out and support local filmmakers? What are the best ways for aspiring filmmakers to plug into the scene themselves?
There are two groups operating right now, one is MOFA, the Mid Ohio Filmmakers Association which meets once a month as a purely social group for networking, meeting people who work as amateurs and professionals in film and video. Then there is INDIECLUB COLUMBUS, a local branch of a national group that meets once a month at the Landmark Gateway theater and offers screenings of rough cuts and short films, as well as discussion groups and acts more as an educational group. The two groups work together on some projects.
The best way for someone getting started is to help out and volunteer on someone else’s project, then get experience and meet likeminded people. Also, it helps to give a favor before expecting one, so most people will help you if you’ve been there to give a helping hand on their movie.
What do you hope to see happening in the future for independent film, in Columbus and beyond?
In Columbus, I want to see more collaboration with Time Warner and local channels like WDEM TV Channel 17.3 where we can reach a broader audience. Once the public starts seeing that we create quality movies, we might find paid sponsorship and then we can create a business model. Locally generated content, especially entertainment, I predict will be what we will see in each regional area. The availability of the talent, technology, and bandwidth can create a perfect opportunity.
The Cowtown Film Series is free, by the way, and runs both tonight, Thursday, December 3, at 7 PM and Sunday, December 6 at 3 PM. Details here.