Wichita Kansas Events, Entertainment, Restaurants and Attractions
Search

What's New on 360Wichita.com:

Q & A With Tallgrass Filmfest Filmmakers Day 1

360Wichita.com sat down with the filmmakers behind the films showing at the Stubbornly Independent 2016 Tallgrass Film Festival and asked them a few questions. 

Here are their responses.

Steve Elfers - Pumped Dry

Brief Description of the film?

The film is about global groundwater depletion. It's based in science, we look at the human issues related to groundwater dropping very rapidly in areas of high agricultural use. These are the places we get our food from. 

Motivation/Inspiration Behind Film?

My Partner in this film is an environmental reporter by name of Ian James, who works for Desert Sun newspaper in California. In his coverage of this topic, he noticed that there was a global story to tell. The same things happening in Cali were happening in Kansas, where happening in Morroco. It all dials back to a NASA data set. NASA's Satelite GRACE that indicated where groundwater was depleting faster than global warming could account for.

We didn't come at the story with a bias. We let the subject and experts guide the way, even if they disagree. It  was their narrative voices that really told the story.

Where are you from?

Virginia 


Is this your first visit to Wichita?

2nd 

How did you start as a filmmaker

My background is visual journalism. I've been a photographer for 17 years, and I shot video along with my stories since 1999. For me as a journalist, having a video camera is just part of the equation for me. I'm the managing editor for USA Today, and this piece started as a work of journalism that evolved into a film. 


What is your favorite thing about Wichita?

A city with the movie theater like the Orpheum is kind of a rare jewel. Those theaters are disappearing across America, so it's great to see that it's alive and well and being restored. My first visit, I was impressed by the people. Everyone I met was nice and friendly. You get some short tempers on the east coast, so it's a nice change.

What are your favorite things about Tallgrass Filmfest? 

This project has been in several film festivals. Right off the top, Tallgrass comes off as one of the most organized. All of the organizers are sharp and they go out of their way to make the filmmakers feel right at home. They take great care of the filmmakers and the films. I like that all the films are concentrated around downtown. You get the energy of a film festival from the volunteers and the volunteers have been terrific.

What film or event are you looking forward to the most?  

I got to see "A hard Days Night", the Beatles film by Ron Howard. It was full or rare footage of the Beatles through their concert years. It was beautifully re-mastered. Any Beatles fan has got to see that.

There's another film, shot in Kansas, "Benders", that I'm looking forward to seeing as well. There's been quite a buzz around it, and it seems like a nice quirky story and I like seeing films that have a good buzz that I don't know much about.

Other Comments

Thank you, people of Wichita, for having a nice, fun city, and for being hospitable. This festival is much appreciated from a filmmaker's perspective, as it gives a lot of films the chance to see the light of day.

For more information


Paul Taylor & Alex Megaro - Driftwood

Paul Taylor & Alex Megaro

Brief Description of Film?

It's about a woman who washes up on a beach. Sort of a blank slate of a person, taken in by an older man, brought back to her cabin in the woods. He Reconditions her to be his made, his daughter, and his wife all at once. There's No Dialogue in the film, it does have a robust soundscape but not actual speaking. 

Motivation/Inspiration Behind Film?

Paul and I, our interests tend to lie in films with more visual storytelling. We're attracted to films that use visuals to tell the story and be the main force. We initially wanted to make a very visual film and paul had the idea to do it with no dialogue, so we decided to tackle it.

Where are you from?

New York


Is this your first visit to Wichita?

First time in Wichita as well as Kansas

How did you start as a filmmaker

I've been making stupid movies all my life. Things on a camcorder growing up where I met the director, Paul. From there, we just keep working together on various projects and eventually, we got to where we decided to make our own feature. You really need to keep pushing yourself to keep going. No one's going to do it for you, so we buckled down and told ourselves it's time to do this. 

Paul started making skate videos, and we eventually started doing narrative work.

What is your favorite thing about Wichita?

It's a beautiful little city, everyone is so inviting and very nice. Some of the nicest people I've run into in a long time. The Orpheum is astounding. Old movie houses like that don't exist anymore and to see that I was taken back. It's an honor to play in an actual part of film history. 

What are your favorite things about Tallgrass Filmfest?

In my few hours here so far, the curation of films is extremely intelligent and diverse. That's a difficult thing to do, to get a wide swath of films from so many diverse backgrounds. I appreciate they have a high school section, it's a great way to inspire young filmmakers and get them to take filmmaking seriously at a young age. It's a great way to build confidence and keep their interest in the medium. Also, a lot of the community comes out. It's not just filmmakers screening things,the community as a whole comes out and enjoys it. People who wouldn't normally watch these types of films get to engage and have exposure to these things. 

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

I want to see all of the films in the "Stubbornly Independent" section. I want to see because of their kind of our kindred spirits, you know, small, no-budget films from people who really have the passion.

other comments:

[Tallgrass Filmfest] is a rare chance for a local community to take a risk on films they wouldn't normally see. So, for anyone coming out, be brave and take a blind leap and you'll be very surprised at what you'll see in the best way possible. 


Aaron Woolf - To Be A Miss

Aaron Woolf - To Be A Miss

Brief Description of the film?

This film is about 3 young ex-Venezuelan beauty pageant contestants. Very raw portrait of a country that has embraced the beauty pageant culture more than any other. On a deeper level, it's a story about identity and all of the steps we go through to find out who we are. 

Motivation/Inspiration Behind Film?

I always looked for stories that shed light on what happens to ordinary people as a result of remote, sometimes government, decision-making somewhere else. If someone in the Venezuelan government decides they're going to promote beauty pageants in primary schools, what stories come out of that? If companies decided they're going to market beauty products to children what comes of that?  A small story, a human story, that emerges because of much bigger forces in society.

Where are you from?

Upstate New York

Is this your first visit to Wichita?

First Time

How did you start as a Filmmaker?

I've always loved the movies, and I've always cared very deeply about social issues. I was a kid during the civil rights movement, and Vietnam war protests. I put together my love of art and love of politics, and documentary is a world that incorporates both of them. I've always loved stories. Stories are the most fundamental way we can be teaching each other. The ability to work in a medium that combines politics and story is pretty incredible.

What is your favorite thing about Wichita?

You have this sense in Wichita, with this sense of past, it's not hard to picture the Native American, Aviation, and rural pasts. One thing I enjoy is how all of those things come together to be celebrated. Cities who cherish their downtown can bring a lot of communities together and it's really happening here and that's awesome. Love the Orpheum. It's incredible, I love that it's renovated, but it's not too finely polished because so many times you see and old downtown theater that's been let fall into ruins or it's been renovated so much that it feels plastic. You can feel the layers, you can feel the past in the theater. You can feel it on the beautiful wood floorboards that go down oriented towards the stage. I just think its a jewel. and it's very real.

What are your favorite things about Tallgrass Filmfest?

I love the way the community has come together for this festival. Bringing in a lot of players, it feels like a filmmakers festival as opposed to a market/distribution opportunity. Filmmakers spend a lot of time alone, in the field chasing a story that may or may not ever see the light of day. We spend a lot of time in dark editing rooms and to come to a place where there are other filmmakers and people welcoming, every time I've sat down, people have come up and said "hello", and "how can I help you?"

What film(or live music performance) are you interested in seeing?

"Driftwood" and "Pumped Dry" - I love the idea of Driftwood's dialogue-less project. I want to see "Pumped Dry" because I love the power of visual media to address injustice, and right wrongs are undeniable. If you can do that, not just with an important issue, but with a powerful story, you can really turn the tide of history. 

Other comments:

The festival is a great chance to come together, bring different components of this community to the same place. Look at our politics right now, look at what's happening with the presidential race. It's easy to feel like we're splitting apart as a country. When one side doesn't want to marry the other and don't want to live in the same neighborhood as the other and I find that very worrisome. And I like seeing an event like this where people are coming together from all walks and it's a good counterweight to the what we're seeing on the national level.


Alicia Slimmer - Creedmoria

Alicia Slimmer - Creedmoria

Brief Description of the film?

Feel-good movie, set in the 80's that's a coming-of-age story that follows Candy Cahill that tries to navigate the nutty world of Queens, high school, her family and her jealous boyfriend. 

Motivation/Inspiration Behind Film?

I was pregnant at the time I wrote it. So I was thinking about what kind of mom I'd be and wanting to create a mother-daughter relationship that is at war with itself. I think motherhood was the biggest inspiration. But the movie loosely draws from a lot of my experiences growing up in Queens in the 80's.

Where are you from?

Brooklyn

Is this your first visit to Wichita?

Yes. However, my lead actress is from here; Rachel de Benedet. She's the one who told me to apply to Tallgrass. 

How did you start as a filmmaker

Being a writer, I made a short film as an exercise to see if I enjoyed filmmaking which I loved, and from then to now it's been trying to get this movie made. 


What is your favorite thing about Wichita?

The people, really warm, you hear mid-westerners are warm and nice and everyone here is. 

What are your favorite things about Tallgrass Filmfest? 

People who love movies, and the people are warm so it's amazing. 

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

"Erasing Eden" made by Beth Dewey she's up for the same award as me, so I'm excited to meet her and see her movie. 

 


Levi Smock & Kieran Valla - Delinquent

Levi SMock & Kieran Valla - De

Brief Description of the film?

About a kid named Joey who is growing up in rural Connecticut in a very rich kid/poor kid sort of town. He's definitely one of the poor kids, his dad does some small-time crime, and Joey, like a lot of kids, glorifies that. Until he tags along someday and has to face some really harsh reality. 

Motivation/Inspiration Behind Film?

My co-writer and director, he grew up in sort of that environment, the rural Connecticut thing. He knew a few families that the model Joey's family. Myself, I dropped out of high school, very much "running the streets" as a high schooler. It's a very cliche story, kid-follows-dad-into-crime-and-it-goes-wrong, but we wanted to give it that kitchen sink feel that really tells the real and other side of the story. 

Where are you from?

Live in L.A. from ST Joseph Missouri


Is this your first visit to Wichita?

Been here in and out a couple times - First time for the festival, though.

How did you start as a filmmaker

I knew from the time  I was maybe 7 I wanted to be a writer. My dad owned video stores as a kid, so I really loved film and I think I was 15 when someone pointed out "hey somebody has to write those films." That's when I decided to pursue screenwriting. 

What is your favorite thing about Wichita?

It's a fun little town, I have a 4-month-old, so I haven't been to too much, but from what I've seen my wife enjoyed the town, we stopped by Central Standard Brewing which was amazing, felt like we were in LA. It's just a fun, neat, town - it has a mid-western feel but doesn't feel rural, it's hip.

What are your favorite things about Tallgrass Filmfest?

The times my baby isn't crying - meeting other filmmakers, that's always a big draw; to meet people you may work with in the future. I enjoy that it's in the mid-western environment because I'm from the mid-west and I don't get to experience that very often anymore. 

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

I'm looking forward to seeing "Creedmoria" - almost every festival I've gotten into, they've been there and I haven't been able to see it yet so I'm interested to see this film that's been traveling with us. This is the 5th or 6th festival that I haven't been able to make it.


Jeff Gracce, Heather Morris, Alex Koehne, Ryland Aldrich - Folk Hero & Funny Guy

Jeff Gracce, Heather Morris, A

Brief Description of the film?

About a successful Rock and Roller who decides, out of the goodness of his heart, to invite his good friend a stand-up comedy show to be the opening act on a tour of the east coast of the United States. A woman has invited along on the tour and it really drives a wedge in the friendship. It's an artistic comedy between the friendship between two men. 

Motivation/Inspiration Behind Film?

Based on a friendship I have with a guy name Adam Ezra - singer/songwriter on the east coast. We talked about me going on tour with him and being the opening act for his band and I always laughed it off as a joke, and eventually we decided to make a film about it all and he offered to provide the music and it was just a nice marriage between music and comedy.

Where are you from?

L.A. 

Is this your first visit to Wichita?

First Time

How did you start as a filmmaker

I had an 8-year career in advertising and then took classes in Chicago as a hobby that evolved into a full-time career pursuit. Moved to L.A. about 10 years ago. Had a comedy group called the Vacationers. A couple of the videos we made, called Google maps went viral and had 10 million view on Youtube, on CNN, from there we were invited to start doing a lot of branded content for Google and Pepsi. We started making our features from there. This is my first write and direct.
 

What is your favorite thing about Wichita?

Liking it, a lot of cultures, a community that really supports the art film festival is one of the best we've gone to and we're really excited to tap into the community and get to know more about Kansas. 

What are your favorite things about Tallgrass Filmfest? Or What do you enjoy most?

Very filmmaker focused festival, incredibly well organized, they really think about 'what will the experience of the filmmakers be like?' They fill your hours with things to do and make sure we're meeting with other filmmakers. Other industries they have conventions and conferences. In the film industry, these are our conventions.

What film(or live music performance) are interested in seeing?

Going to see "Cut to the Chase", we saw "Mad Tiger" last night. "Delinquent" is another movie that looks really good. 

Other Comments:

It's great how community-oriented this festival is. Everyone we've met is very positive about the festival and the impact of this city. We've met the board members who are just excited to be here and I think it's really good for the future of independent cinema to have a festival like this. 


James Choi - Empty Space

James Choi - Empty Space

Brief Description of film?

Its called "Empty Space", and it's a sweet, teen coming-of-age, romantic story where an overweight young man meets a blind girl.

Motivation/Inspiration Behind Film?

We've been developing this story for awhile and the motivation was, the underlying themes that the characters struggle with in the story is bullying. We just felt like it was a really topical issue that's happening right now, and you know, we just need more love in this world. There's a lot of hate.

Where are you from?

I'm based out of Chicago.

Is this your first visit to Wichita?

This is my fourth feature at Tallgrass, and I've attended Tallgrass seven times.

How did you start as a filmmaker?

I lived in L.A. for 20 years so I was working in the business, and moved back home to Chicago five years ago. When you live in L.A. and you're in the business, it's really easy to get started and get into it.
 
What is your favorite thing about Wichita?

The people here are amazing. The audiences are super engaged and super intelligent, and they love independent films. The people here are so welcoming and warm.

What are your favorite things about Tallgrass Filmfest? Or What do you enjoy most?

It's really the people, they just put on such a great and intimate festival where we can really make some human connections that are real. It's really beautiful how you guys have set it up. I've been here since 2009, and every year, the festival gets better. It's never plateau. I never come here and think 'oh, this is like last year.' It always better. And I'm excited to see the people I haven't seen and the audiences and the people that run the festival. The events are awesome, but it's always more about the people. 

What film or event are you looking forward to the most?
I saw "Mad Tiger" about Peelander-Z, and I thought that was really cool, and I'm looking forward to seeing "Driftwood", I mean, there's so many. 

 


Ty Flowers - Time Simply Passes

Ty Flowers - Time Simply Passe

Brief Description of the film?
Archival, Historical feat length documentary on conviction of James Richardson in poisoning deaths of his children, his miraculous release from prison, how he was ignored and cast aside after having his life ruined.

Motivation/Inspiration Behind Film?
My father, he worked on and was partly responsible for getting James out of prison. 

Where are you from?
Florida


Is this your first visit to Wichita?
Shot the film here with James second time. lovely place warm and hospitable

How did you start as a filmmaker?
I always just wanted to do it I guess. I went to the University of Florida but didn't have a program and moved to NY spent 5 years trying to get closer to film-related things.


What is your favorite thing about Wichita?
general decency and politeness, ppl kind and hospitable and chatty. I'm from NY where everybody hated everybody

salt museum - thought it was going to be awful and boring and it was amazing. I would recommend it.

What are your favorite things about Tallgrass Filmfest?
I walked to the Orpheum and that place is beautiful, potentially the most beautiful I've been to. and it's amazing that they've been able to restore it. its cool to see that Wichita cares about this stuff 

What film(or live music performance) are you interested in seeing? 
Documentary about Chris Burton



Blayne Weaver - Cut To The Chase

Blayne Weaver - Cut To The Cha

Brief Description of the film?

It's a Southern film noir thriller, where Max is an ex-convict and his little sister is always bailing him out of trouble. When she goes missing, it's up to Max to find her in the criminal world of his small Louisiana town. 

Motivation/Inspiration Behind Film?

I made three romantic comedies prior to this, and I wanted to try something different. I love movies like this. It's action, it's thriller, it's an edge-of-your-seat, popcorn movie, and actually, the action, thriller, style film has been the easiest experience and lowest budget I've had, even with all of the  guns and stunts.  

Where are you from?

I'm originally from Louisiana, and I moved to L.A. and New York City.

Is this your first visit to Wichita?

I've been fortunate enough to be invited to Tallgrass three times, the first for a film called "Favor" that I was the lead actor in, then again for a panel, and now for "Cut to The Chase."

How did you start as a filmmaker?

I started as a teen actor in L.A. 

What is your favorite thing about Wichita?

It's got to be the people here. The people are really fantastic. I also really enjoyed Cowtown, that was really cool. I also love the Orpheum. It's a beautiful movie palace.

What is your favorite thing about the Tallgrass Film Festival?

I really enjoy the camaraderie with other filmmakers. There are very few other festivals that take bringing in the filmmakers as seriously as Tallgrass does. There's a gala almost every night, and there's always somewhere to go and something to do. I feel incredibly well taken care of, and they remember us, personally, year after year. I pass on Tallgrass to all my filmmaker friends and say 'This is the place you want to be.'   Honestly, when I visit other festivals, Tallgrass is the bar. It's up there with the best I've been to. It gets better every year, which I didn't think was even possible. 

What film or event are you looking forward to the most?

I'm excited for the Stubbornly Independent film, and "Ferris Bueller's Day Off."


Jesse Nesser - Walk With Me

Jesse Nesser - Walk With Me

Brief Summary of your film?

The story of one of Detroit's 1st black judges, the first 10 years of his he saw discrimination cases  that were first of his king. now he's 94 still working janitor to judge

What was the inspiration behind the film?

I had the honor of meeting of Judge Keith, and for a book release and he started telling his story most civil rights giants Rosa and Thurgood were put on  film after their time, but he can tell his own story. 

Where are you from?

based in Detroit.

Have you been to Wichita before?

1st visit I loved Doo dah diner 

How did you get into filmmaking?

Did a film prop during a gap year, I was living in France at the time, and I missed my schools trip to Tanzania, and I thought if I could sell myself as a videographer I would.

What has been your favorite thing about Tallgrass Filmfest?

I've been blown away by fests hospitality. On behalf of starving filmmakers everywhere thank you! the people and audiences. The Diversity and eclectic selection of films. Warm and friendly hospitality kind of hospitality you don't see. a lot of respect for us and I respect them for that. provide lots of networking opportunities.

What screening do you look forward to? 

Jackson I thought was exceptional, and the Spanish film. san Toal Lio, also Pumped Dry

Other Comments:

A big thank you for having me and bringing me here.

Comments:

« Back

Newest Contests

No contests at this time.
Rhatigan Student Center K2 Properties Coldwell Banker Plaza Real Estate