Wichita: The Filmmaker Hub
When the average person thinks, "What's a good place to make movies?", Wichita Kansas is usually not on their minds. But, it definitely should be! Wichita has seen quite a growth in filmmaking in recent years.
There are many active groups around town that are frequently putting out quality short films, commercials, music videos, documentaries, and even full-length movies. Recently I sat down with the producer of one such movie, James Luce. Luce is a writer and producer with Lemon Parade Films who are currently working on their first full feature length movie, an action comedy called "Start-Up".
It will be premiering at a local theatre sometime next year and you can find out more on the "Lemon Parade" Facebook page.
Interview with James Luce
"Wichita has a great theatre community here that already has legs and it's doing things," Luce said, "but why don't we have that next step of a film community? Don't get me wrong, it's grown over the years but it's not anywhere near as big as what Wichita is and could sustain. People here need to get over that stigma that you can't make 'real' movies in Kansas."
Lemon Parade Films consists mainly of:
- Producer/Writer - James Luce
- Director/Writer/Actor - Shane Konicki
- Writer/Actress - Meredith Konicki
- Director of Photography - Eron Rawson
- Editor - Dave Lyon
- Actor - Matthew Svoboda
They also collaborate with many others in town whenever possible, both behind and in front of the camera, including myself!
One of the first things most newcomers to film will notice is just how long it takes to really get anything done. The well-known mantra among film communities is "hurry up and wait". You always want to make sure you're there on time, figure out what you're doing for the day, get your hair/makeup and costume set, then be prepared to sit around and wait a few hours to film your scene.
You never know just how make takes a specific scene will take to film so it's possible to be filming well into the night and the wee hours of the morning if needed, at least on non-union films. But it's almost always a fun and rewarding experience so it's well worth it. There is nothing quite like finally seeing that finished product that so many people put so many hours of hard work into. It's really quite magical, and it's all about collaboration to make it happen.
"Most of what we've seen over the last few years has been people who are already production/tech people, who work at a job that makes commercials or things like that, that move naturally into making film," said Luce.
"A lot of them are interested in the more technical aspects and not as much the storytelling, and then you also have people that are interested in very specific genres. So for instance, there's a large community here for the cowboy style movie. There was the "Wichita" movie that was made, and that director went somewhere else and made another western. So usually what happens is you have people who find their focus and that's what they love. Our films are a little bit different, just because we want to make something different every time. We don't want to make the same thing twice."
Getting Involved with Filmmaking
For anyone looking to get involved with filmmaking in Wichita, the Tallgrass Film Festival going on this weekend is a great place to start. They are always looking for more volunteers and it's a great way to network and get your foot in the door.
Most local filmmakers love a hard worker and an extra set of hands when needed! There are also a variety of Facebook groups you can join to network and find out about auditions. "Wichita's Independent Film Professionals", "Female Filmmakers of Wichita", and "Actors & Actresses in Wichita, Kansas and surrounding areas" are just three of the many groups out there.
Remember, you can always make your own film, even on your cell phone! Just put it out there and see what comes your way. It's amazing the kind of quality videos people can produce with their phone and a microphone!
"Sound is the thing that most people are missing out on," said Luce. "Make sure you get some good quality mics and you get a separate recording device. Because if your sound is no good, your movie just isn't going to work. And remember, it's never too late to get started!"