Independent Films Take Center Stage At Fifth Annual Maumee Film Festival

Pictured is director KC Allen with his crew on the set of Poor Baby, a comedy about a pregnant woman who is in desperate need of a bank loan. PHOTO COURTESY OF KC ALLEN

BY NANCY GAGNET | MIRROR REPORTER — Local filmmakers are gearing up to showcase their work on the big screen.

The fifth annual Maumee Film Festival, which is scheduled for Friday and Saturday, March 6-7 at the Maumee Indoor Theater, will feature over 50 short films submitted by filmmakers based in Ohio, Michigan, Florida and California.

In addition to the films, this year’s film festival will also include live music from Telesonic 9000, a retro-futuristic film-concert.

Band leader Dominick Grey has performed on many local stages, including the Toledo Museum of Art, and in theaters across Berlin, Germany.

“It is a film-concert combining original music with retro video clips to create a unique and immersive live experience,” Grey said. “The multimedia show is at the intersection of a concert and film screening, exploring the ideas of progress, American identity and the human condition. The live music is synchronized to real-time onstage video editing with footage assembled from over 400 archival films.”

According to one of the festival organizers, Justin Camuso, those attending this year’s film festival can expect a great weekend.

“The Maumee Film Festival is a great oppor-tunity for film lovers to see unique and interesting films by real independent filmmakers,” Camuso said. “This year, not only are we screening films, but we have added a concert into the festival lineup with local musician Dominick Gray performing on Friday night. The event is also a fun and affordable way to spend your weekend.”

Dean Parker, who currently lives in Los Angeles, directed Call the Shot, a short film that tells the story of two men who have a life-defining conversation in a bar. Filming took place over two days in Athens, Ohio in March 2019. With both pre- and post-production work included, it took 11 months to complete the film project. 

Raan Shalom wrote the script, which is heavy on dialogue and draws inspiration from the play The Sunset Limited by Cormac Mc-Carthy. Actors LeJon Woods and Chanse McDuffie play the two leads.

“We had to cast actors who could deliver captivating performances so the audience wouldn’t lose interest. A lot of time was spent on carefully deciding who would fit the roles and we were lucky to find who we did,” Dean said.

Everyone on the set gave 110 percent, and Dean is happy with the final outcome, he said. The film will screen on Saturday evening.

“With any project I’ve directed, I do think to myself where I could’ve personally improved. It keeps me motivated to continue to work on my craft and make the next project better than the last,” he said. “I am grateful to have so many friends that were willing to help me see it through.”

Kelleys Island served as the backdrop for the film Eddy’s Island, which delves into the issues of substance abuse and sibling relationships.

Filmmaker Fernando Lopez wrote and directed the film with a small crew of six, including three actors and one or two rolling cameras. It was shot over the course of a fall weekend and it took approximately four months of pre- and post-production work to finalize the project.

“I wrote the story thinking of how substance abuse is an issue that a lot of us can relate to in Ohio, directly or through friends or family who have been affected by it,” he said. “Furthermore, I wanted to really showcase how delicate and draining a sibling relationship can be under said circumstances. Under-standing siblings can become increasingly challenging as we grow up, but I can’t even begin to think what it is like to lose one, so I wanted to portray an amalgamation of these predicaments without demonizing either side, nor trivializing such a delicate and current subject as is substance abuse.”

Another film debuting in Saturday’s lineup is Poor Baby by KC Allen, a Findlay-based filmmaker.

After eight script revisions, including changes on the day of shooting, Allen settled on making a comedy based on the story of a pregnant woman desperately in need of a bank loan.

“The premise of the film evolved over time,” Allen said. “I really like comedy and it started out as a comedy, but over the time we wrote it and it changed to a drama, the characters changed. It changed to an action short, the characters changed again and then it went back to being a comedy with some action staying in for good measure. At one point, the bank robbers were brother and sister, then husband and wife, and finally, adversaries.”

While weather and time constraints proved somewhat of a challenge over the day and a half shoot, the project went smoothly, thanks to a well-planned production team, he said.

“It’s done very well, winning three of the five festivals we’ve screened in and receiving multiple nominations in all of them. Of course, you go back and review it over time and there’s always minor things we would change about the writing, the cinematography and the editing. I wouldn’t change a thing about the actors or their per-formances, nor would I change anything about the score,” he said.

The Maumee Film Festival will take place on Friday and Saturday, March 6 and 7 at the Maumee Indoor Theater, located at 601 Conant St. 

Film screenings will take place in the main theater on Friday evening beginning at 6:30 p.m. and on Saturday starting at 11:00 a.m. 

Single-day admission is $8.00 and tickets may be purchased in advance using a credit card on the film festival website or cash only at the door.

This film festival is not recommended for young viewers as some of the films contain strong language and have adult themes.

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