BY JOEL SENSING | MIRROR REPORTER — Local filmmakers have just a short amount of time left to sign up to take part in the third annual Maumee Film Festival. The final deadline for short-film submissions to the September 23 event at the Maumee Indoor Theater is Sunday, August 13. Films of any genre with a maximum running time of 12 minutes may be submitted for consideration into the festival using the FilmFreeway program via the festival’s website, www. maumeefilmfestival.com. The cost to submit a film is $50.00. Judges for this year’s films include Toledo natives Katie Holmes and her sister, Tamera Fretti, who will join Maumee native and actor Robert Knepper, best known for his role on the FOX series Prison Break. Brent Howard, an independent filmmaker living in Los Angeles, will also join the judges’ panel. In addition to the short-film submissions, the festival is also hosting a “Project 4 Challenge,” which gives filmmakers four days to complete a project. For that challenge, participants must have team member attend a kickoff event at the theater on Wednesday, August 9. There, they will be given a line of dialogue to incorporate into the project, which must feature at least one shot taking place in Maumee. The project is due four days later, on Sunday, August 13. Alex Goetz is a filmmaker whose team won the top festival award “Best of Fest” at the inaugural event in 2015. He’s since taken an active role in making the festival a great opportunity for area filmmakers. “From then on, we felt like we wanted to dedicate time and effort to making this event even bigger,” he said. “We really liked what it brought to the Maumee and Toledo area. We’ve been to a lot of other film festivals and saw what other people were doing and we saw the potential the Maumee Film Festival had to become even bigger than it has been the past two years.” Organizers were pleased to add a big-name actor such as Holmes to the judges’ panel, Goetz noted. “She’s still trying to figure out her schedule to see if she can show up, but she will for sure be seeing the films and actually reviewing them,” he said. “That’s really cool for any filmmaker to have her and Robert Knepper – both industry pros – watching their movies.” As a maker of films himself, Goetz hopes to improve not only the viewing experience for the event’s audience but also those who are producing the work for the festival. “We wanted to create a networking opportunity for all of these local filmmakers who don’t even know each other, but they’re all trying to achieve the same thing,” Goetz said. To foster that networking environment, this year’s festival will extend beyond its usual schedule to include a mixer event at F.J. Westcott Co., a photography and film lighting equipment company located at 1425-B Holland Rd., just west of Conant Street. The company will host the mixer in a new studio space it’s opening up at its warehouse location. “We partnered up with them and they were really on board with supporting the Maumee Film Festival,” Goetz said. “They’re going to try to bring in some of their industry pro photographers and filmmakers. “So we’re going to offer up this community for these filmmakers who have submitted films to come, meet each other before they watch each other’s films, make connections and network a little bit,” Goetz said. “Now, if they see something they really like, they know who they can find and collaborate with.” Nancy Gagnet, festival founder, said she is excited for the expansion of the event in its third year. “The festival continues to grow and we have more people involved with planning, which is great,” she said. “Although we are firming up the details, there is a very good chance that a film and television producer will participate in a special Q&A as part of this year’s festival. The third year is shaping up to be an exciting event for local filmmakers.” Although the festival committee is accepting all submissions, it cannot guarantee all films will be shown at the theater that night. “We want to be sure that we’re showing the really good-quality independent films that are being submitted,” Goetz said. For more information, visit www.maumeefilmfestival.com or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.