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Tuesday, Aug. 10, 2010

Firestarter Films Ignites Passion for Cinema

Local event offers networking, screening opportunities

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Firestarter Films (FSF) provides a unique opportunity for Midwest filmmakers to network with Milwaukee’s film community, showcase their work and receive audience feedback. FSF’s 10th event, taking place Aug. 15 at the Harley-Davidson Museum, will feature two- to 15-minute films from a wide variety of genres.

Among the already-scheduled screenings are Push, a 14-minute film that transforms a toy store and the people inside into a music video for Salt-n-Pepa’s classic ’80s tune "Push It," and If You Could Be, a computer-animated hip-hop video about the incredibly popular “World of Warcraft” online role-playing game. An animated short, Teddy Bear Only, written by FSF's own Shawn Monaghan and animated by Milwaukee's Burt Gross, revisits the "new kid on the block" appeal of a brand-new stuffed animal as it threatens the status of the old stuffed toy, Teddy Bear. Crossing the Lake is a dramatic narrative with a comedic touch directed, written and produced by Jerry LaBuy of Rockford, Ill.’s Caledonia Night Sky Co. Another drama, Legacy, was written, produced and edited by Nic Collins from Peoria, Ill.

Many of the featured shorts were written for other film competitions, including two for 2010's 48 Hour Film Project: Cleaning House, Jared Stepp’s mockumentary, and The Assistant, a film noir from FSF creators Monaghan and Phil Koch.

FSF offers an interactive element that isn’t seen at most film festivals. "We show films for 30 minutes and then take a break," Monaghan says. "It gives everybody a chance to talk about what they just saw and then be able to say to the filmmaker, ‘Hey, I'm an actor,’ or, ‘I'm a composer,’ and ‘I'd really like to work on your next project.’” Critique sheets allow audience members to anonymously identify elements of a film they liked as well as aspects that could be improved.

The event also features a two-minute film competition, a twist on the typical "anything goes" motto of the festival.This time around the theme is “daredevil,” meaning that a concept, image or word associated with “daredevil” must be included somewhere in the flick.

“Most of the filmmakers, they're creative, but it's difficult for them to come up with something on their own, so we just say ‘Here's an idea…’—rather than saying, ‘Just make anything’—and people are able to run with it,” Monaghan explains.

Networking between audience members and filmmakers begins an hour before the screenings. Food will be available.

Firestarter Films started as a collaboration between Monaghan and Koch in 2008. Previous Firestarter Films events have been screened at the Alchemist Theatre in Bay View and Live Artists Studio in Walker's Point.This will be the event’s first time at the Harley-Davidson Museum.

The 10th Firestarter Films event will be held 4-9 p.m. Aug. 15 at the Harley-Davidson Museum’s Rumble Room. Admission is $5.