Screen Gems

Posted: May 24, 2013 at 2:53 a.m.

Another Little Rock Film Festival has come and gone. Lots of films were screened, parties had, and awards won. Specifically the Made in Arkansas program of the festival awarded Best Feature to Juli Jackson’s deftly crafted 45RPM as well as Best Actor to the film’s lead, Liza Burns; Best Short was given out to previous winner Daniel Campbell for the darkly funny film The Discontentment of Ed Telfair; and the Best Director award was given to Mark Thiedeman for his romantic tale Last Summer. I had a round-table online chat with the three filmmakers the day after their wins to discuss their experiences.

What were your reactions to winning your awards at the gala this past Sunday at the Little Rock Film Festival?

Juli Jackson: When Liza Burns was announced best actor, I got a complete rush of excitement that froze me where I stood. I think someone had to push me to get me headed towards the stage. When 45RPM was announced best feature I am pretty sure I gasped and started clapping … which I realize is not the cool thing to do.

Mark Thiedeman: I have to say that these awards ceremonies are probably my least favorite part of the festival experience. They create a sense of competition, and particularly in Little Rock, I don’t feel like I have any competitors - only fellow filmmakers. I was the AD [assistant director] on both Bad Water and Mary, also nominated for Best Director, so had Amman [Abbasi] or Zach [Turner] won, I would have been thrilled. Also, I feel a kinship with Juli since we’re both … crazy enough to make an indie feature in Arkansas, so I would have been happy to see her win as well. It’s a lovely feeling to be recognized, and I really appreciate it, but what means more is to see an audience engaged and interested in the film.

Daniel Campbell: After seeing the shorts at this year’s festival, I was blown away with the award. It felt good. There were a ton of very strong shorts this year and knowing we were included in that lineup was an absolute honor.

How was your experience at the Seventh annual LRFF different from previous years?

MT: This was my favorite year by far. Spreading the festival out to various downtown venues allowed for a constant change of scenery, outdoor walks as breaks between screenings, and a more complete picture of Little Rock for out-of-state filmmakers. It was relaxing and completely enjoyable - a perfect summertime festival.

JJ: This was my third year attending the LRFF, first year screening a film. I loved everything. Being downtown was awesome, the parties were out of this world fun (I GOT TO PLAY PINBALL!), had many opportunities to connect to new and local filmmakers, was completely inspired by many films & panel discussions, but I would say my favorite addition was the bands! Adding music into the mix at the screenings as well as parties just made me really happy. It was truly a world-class event. Looking forward to next year.

DC: The festival gets increasingly better each year. This year though, with the new venues, was by far the best that I’ve been a part of and I’m really excited about the future theater and seeing the festival grow even more.

What’s the next step for your film?

MT: I’ll make a major festival announcement in a couple of weeks. Until then, my lips are sealed.

DC: We plan to submit to festivals across the globe. And hopefully get accepted into a few.

JJ: We are submitting and prepping for more festivals all over the place. Am also gearing up for my first crowd-funding campaign to raise [money] for our official soundtrack release. A much requested item. So watch for that!

Levi Agee is a filmmaker and programmer for the Little Rock Film Festival. Write him at .

MovieStyle, Pages 35 on 05/24/2013