LAST YEAR, when local movie production company Perpombellar put the finishing touches on their debut effort, a narrative short called The Street Cleaner, they did what most any self-respecting indie filmmakers would do: they submitted it to the Savannah Film Festival.
However, it seems there was no room at the inn. The Street Cleaner did not make the cut for 2007’s festival, but that didn’t stop the ultra low-budget flick from being accepted to 14 other film fests to date —including Beijing, China’s— and nabbing 12 awards in the process, either from these festivals’ juries, audience members, or both.
And yet, while many in our area may have heard of the film, hardly any have had the opportunity to see it. This Thursday, they’ll get their chance, when that movie —along with three other locally-produced shorts— screens for free in the 220-seat Neises Auditorium at the Jepson Center for The Arts.
Billed as “Cindigenous,” this community event —the first of its kind— is a joint venture between The Jepson and the Savannah Film Commission, both of whom hope that by spotlighting budding local cinematic talent it will lead to the funding of future projects by talented area filmmakers, but also encourage other exceptional industry technicians to view Savannah as a viable place to live and work in their field.
“We’re very limited in funding,” explains Melissa Fader, Locations Specialist for The Savannah Film Commission. “But we brainstormed on how to increase public awareness of local filmmakers —some of whom are SCAD alumni— that didn’t do what most folks do when they graduate from school, which is to move to L.A. or New York. They stuck it out and are trying to make their dreams work from here.”
From those brainstorming sessions came Cindigenous, a term coined by local Film Commissioner Jay Self, meant to convey both the idea of movie making and a sense of local origination.
In addition to The Street Cleaner, three other standout shorts will be shown: And Then She Was Gone (starring Oscar Nominee Diana Scarwid), The Madness of Being (a stop-motion animation piece by director Hal Miles), and an abstract piece by SCAD professor Michael Chaney that was originally created as a visual backdrop for the Charleston Symphony.
“We wanted to open up the event to as many local productions as we could,” explains Fader, “to show our citizens that even though we haven’t been able to attract many major films here of late —for whatever reason— there are noteworthy films being made in Savannah.”
She call the Jepson a “cozy” setting for the event, with a “great” projection system.
“The Film Commission has a strong friendship with the Jepson and they’ve essentially donated their space, which is wonderful. If the filmmakers had to pay for this on their own, it probably wouldn’t have happened,” she continues.
Fader says school projects were not considered for this particular event. “Not to knock them,” she offers, “but film students have easy access to so much equipment, and we wanted to promote people taking more of a risk on their own.”
Jody Schiesser, who produced The Street Cleaner, is thrilled about this showcase, which he calls “long overdue.”
“Our film being included in this screening feels right. Traveling with it around the country has been such an inspiration that we’re going into this screening more buoyant and much less nervous than if we’d played in Savannah early on.”
Cindigenous: Local Short FilmsWhere: The Jepson Center for The ArtsWhen: 7 p.m., Thurs., May 8 Cost: Free (cash bar reception at 6:30 p.m.)Info: thestreetcleanermovie.com, andthenshewasgone.com, themadnessofbeing.com