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Sharing the Stage: Talent’s Camelot Theatre Celebrates Short Film with a Local Showcase

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Short films are the incubator of cinema. Whether from a new talent stretching their wings or experienced hands trying out new visual styles and techniques, short films present a less expensive, faster alternative to the epic struggles of long-form filmmaking. Often, a short film—typically, five to thirty minutes in length—is the first test of a promising long-form idea, as with Jared Hess’s Peluca (2002) (link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uSP_NAjIv4Q), his first swing at the Napoleon Dynamite character, or Neill Blomkamp’s Alive in Joburg (2006) (https://vimeo.com/1431107), which tried out the themes and visual effects Blomkamp later used in his sci-fi hit, District 9.
On July 10, Camelot Theatre in Talent launched its first annual Short Film Showcase to celebrate the art of short film. Camelot Artistic Director Roy Von Rains, Jr. first hatched the idea in April of 2016, not long after taking the reins of the 164-seat, semi-professional community theater. The inaugural showcase finally came to fruition last week, featuring the work of seven local filmmakers over two nights and followed by talkbacks with the directors. Rains hopes the screenings will be the first of an annual event because it fills a need in the local film culture. “I look at the talent we have and the lack of venue for them to display it,” Rains said. “We have this wonderful space and tools, why not make it available for filmmakers to tell their stories?”
This year’s program demonstrated a wide range of interests and styles. From Ross Williams’ funny and affecting portrait documentary Papa Joe (see “Rustic Wisdom,” Rogue Valley Messenger, June 8, 2017, link: http://www.roguevalleymessenger.com/rustic-wisdom-local-filmmaker-ross-williams-and-the-immortality-of-storytelling/ ) to David Kirk West’s taut paranoid thriller Occam’s Razor, a variety of genres were on tap. The emotional tones covered the gamut, too. In Be Yourself, Kristan Kelly Williams created an inspiring three-part harmony of performers finding their bliss in a chosen art form, while Ray Nomoto Robison’s award-winning drama, The Bag, based on a true story, tackled late-in-life decline, family obligation, and suicide. Robison had two other films on the program: Dear Future Self, a video time capsule with a twist, and Four Daughters, in which a father confronts a ghost from his past on his daughter’s wedding day.
Other films included Michael Meyer’s Catatonia of the Fairies, recent Southern Oregon University graduate Imogen Straub’s surrealist The Better Half, and another film from Ross Williams, the twisty zombie fantasy, Necrotic. Brian Michael O’Conner, sound and video designer at The Camelot, offered two films: the wistful End of Winter and Gravedigger’s Song.
Short video is everywhere these days. Thanks to platforms like YouTube, Vimeo, Facebook and Instagram, filmmakers have many ways to publish their work. Still, for these filmmakers nothing compares to presenting their filmed work in the shared space of the theater. “The Camelot Showcase is important and appreciated by local filmmakers because it gives us an opportunity to share our film with a live audience and receive their immediate feedback,” Kristan Kelly Williams said. “The Showcase also served as a great event to collaborate with other film talent in the Rogue Valley.”
For Rains, supporting the local creative community is the ultimate aim. He asks, “How painful is it to have stories to tell and nowhere to tell them?” Most of this years’ featured filmmakers work in the local media industry in some capacity, and SOFAM [link: http://filmsouthernoregon.org/], the Rogue Valley’s film industry trade association, was a promotional partner in the showcase. Rains says in the future he hopes to involve younger filmmakers as well, and would love to see more youth focusing on the craft of storytelling, as they do in the Camelot’s youth conservatory program.
Whether created by young or old, newbie or professional, short films are a format to follow. Who knows: maybe in that next short film you’ll see a star being born? For announcements related to future film showcases and other events at Camelot Theatre, follow the theater on Facebook or Twitter, or check their webpage regularly.

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