307 Film Festival Showcases Wyoming Talent
If you made it over to Laramie this weekend - good on you. If you didn't - you could have done better, but that's okay too. Laramie, Wyoming hosted the 307 Film Festival on Saturday August 24th and Sunday August 25th at the local Studio City Mesa Theatre, and I was fortunate enough to scrape up some time to run over on Sunday and get a peek for a few hours (or seven, something like that).
2019 marks only the second year of the 307 Film Fest, but after the overwhelming participation in 2018, the Fest's director, and Laramie-based film producer, Nid Collins, added a second day and increased the number of films shown from two-dozen to almost one hundred. 29 of those were Wyoming-made short films. The festival is a massive collaborative effort from Collins, film editor Rudi Womack, and a number of others. It consists of 12-hour days each day, with films ranging from 3 minutes up to 30, featuring romances, Westerns, horror flicks, war stories, documentaries, musicals, and everything else. Filmmakers came and went throughout the day, whether to attend specific films or run out for a bite to eat and return (there were no breaks other than approximately 20 minute intermissions between categories), while Saturday night held a filmmaker meet 'n greet at the Hilton Garden Inn next door to the theatre and Sunday saw an awards ceremony to congratulate participants and their hard work.
I spoke with a couple of the filmmakers in the audience with me on Sunday, one of which went on to win Best Wyoming Documentary. Casper-based Dennis Rollins is not new to independent film work and has recently been reaping rewards for his production company's efforts on Dell Burke and the Yellow Hotel, and this year with his documentary The Monumentals. Rollins traveled to Crete for the project, and lived in Greece for a week and a half as he worked to tell the story of a family's olive vineyard and their struggles in the olive oil industry. He joined us on Wake Up Wyoming to discuss the film.
Young filmmaker Falon McCormick won the honor of Best Wyoming Film with her 3-minute short, Addiction, about a girl struggling with a very real problem heard too often in the state - methamphetamine addiction. A Natrona County High School graduate who pursued her film interest in Riverton, McCormick found her inspiration from not just the state-wide issue, but because it hit close to home as well. She also stopped in to the studio to speak with Glenn about the festival, and explain the importance of her short film.
Beyond these two local talents I was fortunate to catch, I also bumped into Dan McGuire, a screenwriter and editor from Chicago, who traveled all the way out to Wyoming with his girlfriend, as his sci-fi horror short, Abi, makes its tour around the country (13 places so far, and potentially more than a dozen to go). Written nearly 10 years ago and filmed April of 2018, Abi marks McGuire's 2nd project - one that is taking off hot, as just when I was starting to write this paragraph, Dan let me know Abi had won both Best Screenplay at the 307 Festival and the Audience Award for Best U.S. Short! Huge congratulations to Dan and his crew, that is no small feat, and we're so glad Wyoming treated you well!
Only catching 26 out of the 98 films, I managed to experience some really delightful pieces. Honeymoon in the West: a zany, French-comedy-Western about a kidnapped bride. Good Medicine: an affecting message about cultural life on the Wind River Reservation and how the children express themselves. Carlotta: a unique German animated-documentary about a woman with face-blindness. Hammer Down and Motherf****r!: one, a quick stop-motion comedy about zombie extermination, the other, a layered game of dialogue, mishaps..and turrets. Will, The Machine: the 15 minute slice of an unstable football player's obsessive personality (and maybe a personal favourite..).
License plates in the parking lot revealed viewers and participants from a number of Wyoming cities, but also the Dakotas, California, and Nevada. Films came from anywhere and everywhere - Mid-west states, California, Texas, New York, the UK, Sweden, France; the variety was undoubtedly impressive for a still-new-festival in Wyoming, but it was as big and heart-felt as Sundance or Toronto. From the filmmakers I spoke with, to my own personal (albeit brief) experience at the event, it seems everyone went home happy in some way after the long weekend.