white wall loosely advises you to “Abandon Hope” in the middle
of the Spectrum 8 Theatres’ back parking lot. A mob of 7-year-old,
white-faced zombies make their way toward a pie stand, as
a woman with huge blonde pigtails balances atop a VW van-turned-pirate-ship.
At least a half-dozen stressed-out directors lug their paper
coffee cups through separate film sets. It’s hard to say if
the Spectrum will ever be home to such wonderfully campy horror
again—that is, unless it hosts the Edwood FilmFest next year.
last night we decided maybe we should organize something,”
said Peter Barnett, head organizer of the Edwood FilmFest
and sort-of head-honcho of last Saturday’s “microsode” filming.
is joking, obviously; the Edwood FilmFest has been attracting
amateur filmmakers since 2000, when locally made mini-films
were screened at a Lark Street bar. (The festival is named
after late filmmaker Ed Wood, with whom you should already
be familiar.) The festival features a short-film contest as
well as a newly introduced “microsode” script contest that
gives writers a chance to see their work made into sub-5-minute
films. This year the festival moves on-and-up to Delaware
Avenue, and will screen its movies at Spectrum 8 Theaters
come September. The Spectrum also lent its back parking lot
to the Edwood clan on Saturday, where crews were allowed to
shoot scenes for the 10 winning microsodes. Hence the zombies.
really needs this sort of thing. The whole community can get
involved,” said Jeff Knight, owner of East Greenbush-based
Knight Owl Entertainment and director of the microsode, The
Lost Children of Computer Camp.
directors, writers, cinematographers, producers and actors
make up the crews for Edwood FilmFest; no previous experience
is necessarily required, only dedication, practice and the
willingness to sign up. It is the self-proclaimed “People’s
Film Festival,” after all.
amount of dedication is incredible here,” said Knight. “I
don’t think anyone anticipated how much work goes into these
and the other microsode directors have been working on their
pieces since May, and finished up the last scenes last Saturday;
after the films are completed, the rough cuts are sent off
to Hollywood for final editing and finishing. That’s right,
Hollywood: A professional editor who once worked at the Spectrum
will work on the films.
has some effect, I’ve found, even in Albany where we’re tough
and hardened and know Hollywood’s never comin’, ” said Barnett.
it was all the Hollywood name-dropping or not, the Edwood
FilmFest has grown in recent years, in step with an increase
in community interest. A long list of sponsors have lent their
names to the festival this year, including distinguished organizations
such as UAG, Capital Repertory Theatre, the New York State
Theatre Institute, and, ahem, Metroland.
is different because the market is so small. We have a lot
of great local sponsors,” said Eric Vollweiler, director of
business development and co-producer of the Festival. “There’s
no other [film festival] like this in Albany, which is a great
pitching point—it’s very eccentric and unique.”
all the newfound attention, the Edwood FilmFest remains fun
and experimental. Again, hence the zombies.
Edwood tradition is just to keep it fun. The minute a film
director takes it too seriously, it’s done,” said Ed Bablin,
winner of the first Edwood FilmFest and director of the up-and-coming
short film, The Shaved Yetty. (The Shaved Yetty?)
trick is to get it bigger and to get more people involved,
but keep it light at the same time.”
FilmFest will screen the completed short films and microsodes
between Sept. 24 and Oct. 4, in a week filled with giveaways,
parties and general campy celebration. After a top-secret
deliberation, the winner of the short-film contest will be
announced on Sept. 28 and will receive film classes as well
as a trophy.