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Q&A With Tallgrass Filmfest Filmmakers Day 2

The Filmmakers of Tallgrass Filmfest were gracious enough to sit down with 360wichita.com and let us ask them a few questions.

Here are their responses:

Andrew Becker, Daniel Mehrer - Santoalla

Andrew Becker, Daniel Mehrer -

Brief Description of  the Film?

About a woman who lives in a small village in the mountains of Spain. Her only neighbors are family, she suspects they’re responsible for her husband's disappearance.

Motivation/Inspiration Behind Film?
The create something that I wouldn’t be embarrassed if my father watched it. We thought it was a great story, we found out about it, my brother was in this village as a volunteer. The day he arrived was the day the husband never returned. He was stuck in te initial stages of this investigation.

Where are you from?
New York

Is this your first visit to Wichita?
First time

How did you start as a filmmaker
This is our first film. We got started, I've been working in television- creating garbage and I didn’t want to do that anymore, I wanted my own projects that I could control and do with integrity.

I was working in television as well and just got tired of it. I wanted to make my own project and have creative control- we shared a similar vision of the type of project we wanted to work on

What is your favorite thing about Wichita?
I liked the people, they’re quite nice, nauseatingly nice - mean that in a good way

I love the old downtown area, we’ve been walking everywhere- which people have been surprised by but it’s walkable and we love it. Everyone at the festival has been super nice and welcoming which is nice since it's our first time here

What are your favorite things about Tallgrass Filmfest?
I love Orpheum theater - it's an awesome pale to see. The people are what's made this festival interesting. We went to the opening night film and there was such a sense of community. People were excited about what was going down. And everyone's been so nice and accommodating - volunteers to everybody, you can tell this city comes together for the festival.  We haven’t been to that many festivals and  there's something that stands out about the people and the comradery that's great.

What film(or live music performance) were you interested in seeing?
I saw tower - which I thought was proximal, super sad but super powerful. I enjoyed the opening band the were great.

Other comments:
Thanks for the hospitality and the Ribs they were great.


Noah Lang - Here Alone

Noah Lang - Here Alone

Noah Lang was representing two films at Tallgrass this year. Here Alone and Diverge

Brief Description of the film?

Horror Thriller, about a woman surviving alone in the deep wilderness after a viral pandemic. 

Motivation/Inspiration Behind Film?

The desire to bridge the worlds of smart character driven film making and horror/drama driven filmmaking. 

 See below for Noah's comments on Diverge:


James Morrison - Diverge

Brief Description of the film?
Sci-fi thriller, about a man who finds himself sent across to a parallel universe where everyone he knows is still alive. He has an opportunity to take everything back however, that would mean killing the version of himself that's still alive in this Universe. 

Motivation/Inspiration Behind Film?

James is about as kind and good a person that you'll ever meet. To me making movies is about collaboration and working with people that you admire and trust and James is a guy I admire and trust. Sci-fi filmmaking is the best , it's what got me a jazzed up about films as a kid. To me, this was an opportunity to make something cool and interesting that I hope will speak to who I was when I was  10 or so first watching some of my favorite sci-fi films.

Where are you from?
Brooklyn

Is this your first visit to Wichita?
I was here last year with, Beyond Glory

How did you start as a filmmaker?
I was never going to do anything else, this was what I was always going to do. After I left college I worked for an independent film sales company, ultimately I decided I wanted to Produce and eventually direct independent films. It's been six years now of a jump in feet first, figure out how to swim later situation.

What is your favorite thing about Wichita?
Hospitality. Wichita seems to be a place that is truly and honestly interested in building a support system for artists and creators. 

What are your favorite things about Tallgrass Filmfest? 
Getting to spend time with other creatives and filmmakers, even people I'm not creatively involved with. I love the intermingling, there's no pretention here. The interactivity between Filmmakers, and sponsors, and staff, and the local community. It's all so equitable, everyone on the same level and there's nothing that feels elitist about anything.

What film(or live music performance) are you looking forward to seeing?
Tickled - Been waiting to see it for 7months.

Other Comments:
Thank you for being so open and kind to us. It's no easy feat being and independent filmmaker, so just a sincere thank you.


Beth Dewey - Erasing Eden

Erasing Eden

Brief Description of the film?
A woman who sabotages her own wedding to prove that she alone can make or break herself.

Motivation/Inspiration Behind Film?
Wanted to examine gender roles in the classic male/female relations. Look at how the modern woman lives. The modern women don't need a prince charming to save her. Similarly, men are staying home with children. Things Have changed. Our main character Breeda Wool, from lifetimes unreal, has her jaw broken in the movie and doesn't speak, drinks herself into a blackout. The whole point is she takes responsibility for her own actions. and reclaims her own identity.

Where are you from?
LA

Is this your first visit to Wichita?
Yes, 

How did you start as a filmmaker
I started in Juno Alaska, making tourist videos. Eventually went to Roger Corman film school and it's just evolved from there.

What is your favorite thing about Wichita?
The friendly people, the creative community. 

What are your favorite things about Tallgrass Filmfest? 
The rockstar treatment of us as filmmakers. The amazing people working the event. 

What film(or live music performance) are you looking forward to seeing?
Creedmoria - been waiting to see this film for months. I just met Alicia Slimmer - were both Film Fatales, a woman's filmmaking collective. She's from the East coast and I'm from the west and this is the first time were getting to meet. 

Other Comments:
One of the most exciting things that have Happened since being in Wichita has I met a 17-year-old Female Director who's on her 3rd movie and being able to network and support each other as women -anywhere, even outside Tallgrass- is golden.


Seth Pantich, Aaron Greer - Service to Man

Seth Pantich, Aaron Greer - Se

Brief Description of the film?

It's loosely based on a true story, on my father who was one of the first white students to go Meharry Medical school, an all black school in Nashville in the 1960's. About two outsiders, one white and one black who come to this school without real direction. Under incredibly pressurized circumstances of medical school and the civil rights movement, they find their characters in each other and they struggle together in theses circumstance.

Motivation/Inspiration Behind Film?

We had  both wanted to do a project together as  co-director, I'm from the theater world and Aaron from the film world and we both just pitched a number of projects t see which one we'd be interested in. The reason this one may have stuck is both of us are professors, and both of us deal with men and women at this incredible junction in their lives of where their dreams are and where they want to go. We as professors wanted to work on a project hat would be very person and this film builds on both my father's experiences and our personal experiences as professors

We've seen a lot of stories about the civil rights movement, but never this way, and people are always attracted to fish out of water stories and need to be reminded of the stories of people actually working together, talking together, being together. It's a timeless narrative, it's set in the 1960's but it's a timeless story.

Where are you from?

Based in Chicago - Aaron

Based in Alabama - professor at university of Alabama - Seth 

Is this your first visit to Wichita?

First time,

What is your favorite thing about Wichita?

I love how everything has its own character. Where I'm from there's a lot of uniformity to me there is just a lot of variance in character around here. Looking at the buildings and looking at communities, and the art scene, it's like compressed character. 

I've heard there's a bit of a resurgence of downtown Wichita - having nothing to judge it by, I'd say it's already resurged. There's a lot of downtowns where there's nothing happening. It's great having so much in such a walking distance. having no impression of Wichita and not knowing what to expect, I didn't necessarily anticipate this IT's great how much the community rallies around Tallgrass. It's great from a filmmaker's perspective to have an excited audience, and volunteers, and packed theaters. 

What are your favorite things about Tallgrass Filmfest? 

The organization is phenomenal, they're two steps ahead of everything. AS someone who's coming in and hasn't been through the whole process before, They are so filmmaker friendly, there's a real gentle "spiritual" hand on your back guiding you through the process. 

I love how creative the festival is, the party venues, the playing cards, the stars on the street. everything is very creative, very smart... fun. I can't tell you how many people I've met that have the Tallpass and they just do everything and that's great.

What film(or live music performance) are you looking forward to seeing?

The Beatles film was great. It was a little before my time but I'm a Ron Howard fan and being able to see and hear that on the big screen was amazing.

I'm excited to see delinquent, talking to the filmmaker last night it was really interacting seeing the process of what to let through and what to not let through and seeing how he problem solved I'm interested to see that portrayed on film.

Other Comments:

Thank you, have us back. You have a great thing here, it's a Gem I hope people here recognize it, from personal experience it's often hard to appreciate the wonders in your own town. We've appreciated the opportunity to bring Maharety around, and give it the light and getting the word out for places like Maharety who know how to have this sort of dialogue open and to do it constructively and we're really thankful for that. 


Jamie Boyle - Jackson

Jamie Boyle - Jackson

Brief Description of the film?

It is a feature documentary about the loss abortion clinic in Mississippi and the intersection of economic/racial disparity and reproductive rights in the south. It follows 3 women and their viewpoints on each side of the reproductive rights debate. 

Motivation/Inspiration Behind Film?

I didn't start it, the direction read an article about a bill that had passed too close a clinic, We realized quickly that the conversation needed to go a bit deeper and look at the the pro-life side and take a look at the women on the ground in Mississippi and how it affects them.

Where are you from?

Originally from Denver, living in NY now for about 6 years

Is this your first visit to Wichita?

yes


What is your favorite thing about Wichita?

I'm so surprised at the arts and culture here, the people are insanely nice. I feel so welcome and every single person I meet is nicer than the last. The outpouring of support for the arts has been surprising and wonderful to experience. 

What are your favorite things about Tallgrass Filmfest? 

They've been wonderful, they're extremely welcoming to filmmakers, and they've curated a great lineup of films that build on beachgoers and complement each other in amazing ways. There a huge range of diversity in their selection but selection but you can see a common theme of great filmmaking amongst there's selection. and the sense of the community s great, you feel at home here in just a day.

What film(or live music performance) are you looking forward to seeing?

Dr, Feelgood, a lot of the narratives look good as well, looking forward to driftwood. 

Other Comments:

I'm happy to be here in Wichita, I wish our director Maisie Crow could be here. It's been really refreshing to be in Wichita, and its feels important to be here. You have the ability and the passion for hopefully making a change and that gives me hope. 


John Alexander, JC Guest - Bender

John Alexander, JC Guest - Ben

Brief Description of the film?
Bender is an offbeat and creepy thriller set in the Old West, based on the little-known true story of the bloody benders, America's first serial killing family. 

Motivation/Inspiration Behind Film?
I really liked the idea of doing something based on a true story. I also really liked the idea of taking on a very ambitious project with very limited resources. In that Stubbornly independent spirit, we wanted to push the envelope with what we could do with an independent film.

Where are you from?
La - John , Asheville NC - JC

Is this your first visit to Wichita?
Our film was actually filmed in Wichita. 

How did you start as a filmmaker?
It was something I was doing before I was even aware of doing. Making little mini-DV tape movies with friends as a kid and yeah that pastime turned into an extensive hobby, and eventually a career and it's a great way to spend our limited time on this sphere. 
What is your favorite thing about Wichita?
Wichita is like velcro, when you get away it pulls you right back. Free Parking, you can get anywhere in 15 minutes. there's great food, and the people are unbelievably supportive of the arts and the entrepreneurial spirit. 

What are your favorite things about Tallgrass Filmfest? 
It's incredible, its been so much fun. such an impressive festival, and very on the map, people back home in LA really know about it. The generosity, the excitement, the other filmmakers - met so many talented people, the generosity of the festival and the staff is truly amazing. 

What film(or live music performance) are you looking forward to seeing?
Was really looking forward to Old Stone, connected with joy, really nice guy. Service To Man, I think it's an incredible story and hearing what they pulled off is exciting. 

Other Comments:
Shout out to the Wichita community foundation for supporting our next project an upcoming feature film about local singer Rudy Love. The Annie foundation and the shepherd foundation. The Local private foundations we've gotten so much support from. All of these great institutions have made it to where we come to Kansas from LA to make the movies we do. 


Eric Juhola - Growing Up Coy

Growing Up

Brief Description of the film?

A six-year-old transgender girl who's parents are fighting for her right to use the girl's bathroom at the elementary school in Colorado. A landmark civil right case

Motivation/Inspiration Behind Film?

Wanting to make a film about a transgender person fighting for their rights for a while. I first started over 3 years ago when the same-sex marriage had just become legal however the T in LGBT seemed to be left out and that was the story I wanted to find and make at the time. 

Where are you from?

Boston, Living IN NY since College


Is this your first visit to Wichita?

First time in Kansas

How did you start as a filmmaker?

Went to NYU film school. I always knew I wanted to be a filmmaker now 20 years later this is the first feature documentary that I've directed. I've worked on a lot of other projects and it's taken a while t get to this point. It's been more of a marathon for me rather than a sprint. It's been a very rewarding experience to make this film. There's something about having taken my time with it that makes it that much more satisfying. 
What is your favorite thing about Wichita?

What are your favorite things about Tallgrass Filmfest?

The festival has been Excellent, I'm really impressed by the programming, by the organization in general. The volunteers and the audiences have just been great. Seems to be a really big deal and I love that people are coming out for it. 

The audiences have been incredible, I had a screening at 9:30 and 40 people came. The audiences have been really passionate about film and documentaries, I've spent an hour on the screening talking to people about Wichita and it was great to just talk to people about what was happening. 

What film(or live music performance) are you looking forward to seeing?

I'm here so quick that I actually won't be able to watch any other films, unfortunately. 

Other Comments:

Our screening had two sponsors, one was Kids Connect - a local Wichita organization, Wit-con, I'm so grateful that they decided to sponsor the screening and they were such great people and thanks to them and the people who belong to them and support them. 


Jenny Carchman - Enlighten Us

Jenny Carchman - Enlighten Us

Brief Description of the film?

A story about a motivational speaker who was hugely successful and then leads an event where 3 people died in a sweat lodge. and the film follows his career as he tries to make a comeback into the world of self-help speaking. 

Motivation/Inspiration Behind Film?

I read about the story and I really was curious about who was this person? what is a self-help motivator? who does this? who goes to these events? 

Where are you from?

Brooklyn

Is this your first visit to Wichita?

First

How did you start as a filmmaker

I learned how to edit on avid software in 1996 and I loved it. I was originally trained as a photog and I realized what you could do with moving images. I made my first film then and from there just started working for other filmmakers. 

What is your favorite thing about Wichita?

I was really excited to come, I had no idea what to expect, everyone is incredibly friendly, incredibly gracious. the screenings have been great, the festival has been so accommodating. 

What are your favorite things about Tallgrass Filmfest? 

The VIP room, the great films, but community feeling and welcome that come with it. 

What film(or live music performance) are you looking forward to seeing?

I want to see Tickled- just looks and seems very interesting I know a lot of people who have seen it and they all say its great. 

Other Comments:

Thanks to my producer Allyson Luchak. She couldn't come but she is such a huge part of the production. And thanks to Seth Bomse the editor who was a big part as well.


Johnny Ma - Old Stone

Johnny Ma - Old Stone

Brief Description of the film?
A Psychological thriller about how much a good person can take before he turns bad. A taxi driver gets into an accident and because the ambulance doesn't arrive he chooses to help the other person. He's then held liable for the hospital bills and must figure out what the right thing to do is.

Motivation/Inspiration Behind Film?
I read an article about a truck driver who hit a farmer in the middle of the mountains, and he saw that there was no one around so he chose to back up and kill the man. When the police questioned him he confessed to killing the man as "it was better for me if he was dead". In many Asian countries, it is set that if you injure someone in an accident you're held liable for their medical bills however if you kill them it's a simple one time fee.

Where are you from?
Born in Shanghai, Moved to Canada, Lived in Austraila, currently residing in NY and Shanghai

Is this your first visit to Wichita?
The first time, - The scenery of Kansas was everything I saw in the film Capote. 

How did you start as a filmmaker
I had two other careers before filming. I was working on merger and acquisition and finance and tactile fashion. in 08 there was an opportunity to move into the documentary, I then moved into commercials, I never thought I would be a writer/director I was content being a gaffer - But as a filmmaker and keeping to make films if people keep attending your films, I just feel very fortunate. 

What is your favorite thing about Wichita?
In NY and LA, you get further and further from the nostalgic "what it used to be like". Kansas you still get close to how "people used to be". The locals are so friendly, the people are so authentic. For a filmmaker, you're often drawn to these very iconic places and images of which Wichita has a wide variety of.

What are your favorite things about Tallgrass Filmfest? 
The program and organizers believe in the film so much that they want to create and educate the audience to involve them with the filmmakers and broaden the popularity of filmmaking - I have such have much rest for it.

What film(or live music performance) are you looking forward to seeing?
I was curious to see Tickled while meeting the filmmakers I've been learning their stories and it's been making me want to see their films as well. 

Other Comments:
I think the people here are very lucky to have this festival. I've been to other cities that are bigger than Wichita that doesn't have the dedication to film like Wichita does. It's stuff like this that really gives a city it's personality and persona. So please support Tallgrass and independent films.

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