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Burgeoning local film scene show off works at U of L film festival

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Lethbridge may not be a film making mecca yet, but there are a lot of people who make their own professional movies.
 With the University of Lethbridge Film Festival coming up, March 31, there will be an excellent opportunity to see some of our budding film makers’ works.
 Aaron Kurmey and Rambunxious Entertainment are just one of them.Aaron Kurmey and Rambunxious Skeeter Productions.


 They have been focussing on getting their action film Hoodoo VooDoo in the public eye by submitting it to numerous film festivals.
 But while he was coping with mailboxes full of rejection letters from festivals  about “Hoodoo Voodoo,”  Kurmey got a call out of the blue “from a weird phone number in Los Angeles,” giving him the opportunity to  be interviewed for an NBC Los Angeles TV show “Action On Film,” based around the Action On Film Festival, for which he had submitted the group’s short film “High School Brawl.”


“ I was taking a nap and the phone rang, and they said they wanted to interview me. So they flew me out to Los Angeles and put me up for the night. They asked me a lot of standard questions like who were you influenced by and where did the concept come from,” he enthused adding he‘d been focussed so much on promoting “Hoodoo Voodoo,” that he’d forgotten about “High School Brawl,” which is a five some minute long  fight scene, without any dialogue,  between a man and  a group of school uniform clad high school toughs, who end up getting beaten down by the man, who turns out to be their martial arts trained teacher. Most of the cast of that film are also in “Hoodoo Voodoo.”


“They wanted to feature 40 of the best films from the festival. And we were up against submissions from some really big film schools, UBC, NYU, The American Film Institute,” he said.


“They saw it and said it was one of their favourite films, which is crazy, because I don‘t like it too much,” he said adding the show will be on Saturday nights following Saturday Night Live beginning March 12, though his segment won’t be until near  the end of the season, on May 14.


 He said they didn’t say why they liked it so much. Maybe because of the quirky concept or the 40 minutes of bonus features for the five minute film. High School Brawl won at the University of Lethbridge Film Festival last year.
Just after an interview about  the local film making scene,  centering on the difficulty of getting into film festivals, Kurmey received an  e-mail saying  not only did they get  accepted into  the Canada International Film Festival in Vancouver, but that it received an award of excellence for it  as well. They will be going to Vancouver to receive their award, April 3.

Hoodoo Voodoo is a full length action comedy, which Kurmey compared to the Evil Dead movie.


“ I was pretty surprised since we haven't been having much luck with festivals. We were chosen as one of 28 films to play out of hundreds of entrants from 30 different countries,” Kurmey said adding  he doesn’t think they get anything other than prestige if they win.
They are influenced by old martial arts films, samurai movies and modern Korean films like “City of Violence” and “Oldboy.”

Gianna Magliocco, or by her director’s name , Gianna Isabella, has entered her second film  “Dilemma,” in this year’s festival. She learned a lot from making  her short film.
“I learned a lot while filming ‘Dilemma.‘ I learned about budgeting. To set some money aside for marketing the film  as well as just the production and post production,”  Isabella said adding a couple successful fund raising events as well as her generous brother helped.
“There are a lot of  good, talented people making films here,” observed Isabella, a recent graduate of the University of Lethbridge’s new media program,  adding the local film makers are very close knit.


“We share a lot of tips and information with each other. We’ll phone and  text about things like getting funding and  ways to shoot. We’ll talk about everything, ” she continued adding she appears as an extra in Kurmey’s new short film “Overture,” which will be a teaser for their next big science fiction film, though she’d rather be behind the camera than in front of it.


“I don’t think I’d make a great actor. I’m a little camera shy. I don’t mind being on screen for a few seconds,  but  we have really, really talented actors here,” she continued adding she she  glad the local film-makers work so well together.
“We have two different  styles. Aaron makes awesome action adventure films, while I make dramas. We help each other,” she continued adding she is already hard at work on her next picture — a  half hour long movie called “To Free My Soul” about “a girl who goes to a psychologist, but not everything is as it seems.”

Gianna Isabella directs “Dilemma.” photo by Richard Amery
It will also be the first film under the banner of her new film production company “Deadline Media.” They will begin filming during the summer with the four cast members, with a hope to release it in the Fall.

“ I wrote the story for this one, and Daniel Howard wrote the screenplay,” she said.
“ I made some mistakes  with ‘Dilemma’  and learned from them. And I will probably make more with this one. Hopefully the next one will be better,” she continued adding she is looking forward to  the University film festival. She has never entered before, though she has attended four of the past five.


“It’s really great to see what the others have been working on. You can have two people sitting in the same class but they come up with two different films. I think that’s really amazing,” she said.

 Kurmey said actually making the movie is only half the battle, promoting it and getting it out to people is a full time job.


“A lot of people think if they make a movie, somebody will buy it and that’s it. But it isn’t,” he said adding there is a lot of work  to get people to see it.


 One of the people helping  with screening films is Karla Carcamo, who helps Gianna Isabella  with a few of those aspects for Deadline Media, co-produced “Dilemma”, as well as  has helped set up screenings of independent films at places at the Tongue N Groove and through The SAAG Cinema, and is trying to do similar screening at the NAAG gallery on the north side.


The first SAAG Cinema of the season takes place March 30 at the Tongue N Groove, featuring  the dark documentary Marwencol. SAAG Cinema will take place once a month on the last Wednesday of each month
 She’d like to screen local films before these.
“We want to start screening films at the NAAG (255 12 Street North) but these are guerilla screenings,” Carcamo said adding the last one was a  documentary about underground anarchist British punk band Crass’s commune. They spread the word through social media like Facebook and Twitter and are testing the water to what sort of films Lethbridge audiences respond to.
She is looking forward to  the new SAAG cinema series.


“We’re very excited about our first series. We’re watching a lot of movies,” she continued adding  they will be bringing in very reputable and critically acclaimed  films which have screened at festivals like the  Toronto International film festival.

“It’s all about the Internet. I spend a lot of time researching movies. We look for films that have a buzz around them, if there’s a buzz, chances are there will be an audience,” Carcamo continued.


“And I look for something that is new and refreshing, something that has fully directed characters and a story and a well produced film,” she said adding there are a lot of local film festivals  in Lethbridge including  The international Film Festival (which begins this week) and Banff Mountain Film Festival at the library downtown as well as specialty groups like CineMAGINE.


“We have all of these great people who are into films and the Movie Mill which isn’t used as much as it could be,” Carcamo continued.
“But you have to be in the know, so I’m trying to  find some sort of network for that,” she said.


Just after an interview about  the local film making scene,  centering on the difficulty of getting into film festivals, Kurmey received an  e-mail saying  not only did they get  accepted into  the Canada International Film Festival in Vancouver, but that it received an award of excellence for it  as well. They will be going to Vancouver to receive their award, April 3. Hoodoo Voodoo is a full length action comedy , which Kurmey compared to the Evil Dead movie.
“ I was pretty surprised since we haven't been having much luck with festivals. We were chosen as one of 28 films to play out of hundreds of entrants from 30 different countries,” Kurmey said adding  he doesn’t think they get anything other than prestige if they win.

For more information baout the local film scene, check out www.rambunxious.com  and http://www.deadlinemedia.ca.

— By Richard Amery,L.A. Beat Editor
 
A version of this story appeared in the March 23,2011 edition of the Lethbridge Sun Times
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