This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Florida Film Festival, produced by Maitland’s own Enzian Theater.
The Fest is from April 8 to 17, and will have not only film screenings, but events for Florida foodies and star-gazers, and parties for the social elbow-rubbers. The “fresh-squeezed” indie film picks will honor everything Florida — including four Orlando area filmmakers. Check out what our hometown moviemakers have to offer:
Andrew Kenneth Gay
For Andrew Kenneth Gay, filmmaking had been a youthful passion. He spent time as a 10-year-old exploring movies with his best friend and now producer, but never pursued it as an adult. Gay studied other things, worked other jobs, but was drawn back to film by his childhood buddy, who inspired him to go to school again. Always a writer, Gay said that filmmaking takes the limits off telling a story with just words on a page. “It’s interacting on a different kind of level,” the University of Central Florida film instructor said.
As a late bloomer in the film industry, Gay said he appreciates the opportunities the Festival has offered him.
“I grew up as a filmmaker at the Florida Film Festival,” he said.
It was the first festival he went to, the first festival to ever show one of his short films, and now the first to premiere his feature film, “A Beautiful Belly.” Gay’s movie follows a very new couple who accidentally get pregnant, decide to marry and struggle with growing up and following their passions while being connected to someone else. Gay got married young and hopes his audience can learn to understand and relate to that crazy young love by watching his characters grow.
You might have to wait to see what happens in this film though: “A Beautiful Belly” has completely sold out of individual pre-sale tickets.
Winter Park filmmaker Matt Morris could probably relate to Gay’s movie characters. The North Carolina transplant moved to Florida after falling in love at the 2009 Florida Film Festival while showing his short, “Pickin’ & Trimmin’”, which won best documentary short. A year later and another entrance into the FFF, and he was on the move. This year will be his first entry as a local with the documentary short “Mr. Happy Man.” The film features a Bermuda man who stands on a busy island intersection each morning shouting positive messages to commuters such as “I love you!” and “Good morning!” to cheer them up. Morris hopes his documentary will show people how important “simple acts of love” can be, and everyone has the ability to choose their attitude toward life.
Morris not only does documentaries but also short films, and he wants to make his own feature films one day. He said that filmmaking is the best way for him to tell stories, his favorite part about the craft.
“Not only do you get to tell the story, you get to create it,” Morris said. “To me, it’s the ultimate art form, because it contains all other art forms.”
Another filmmaker in the FFF for his documentary is Lavado Stubbs. Stubbs came to Orlando from the Bahamas to study filmmaking at Full Sail University, and will be showing his short, “After: The Kellie Greene Story,” which won Best of Brouhaha. Lavado said the reason he loves making documentaries is simple: he loves people.
“They’re true, they’re real, they’re inspirational,” he said. “You kind of enter their lives, you put yourself deeper into the story.”
Stubbs’ documentary tells the story of Kellie Greene, a rape survivor who overcomes the experience and gains strength from it. He hopes his film will show people that there is life after such a devastating event, and that you can conquer any obstacle. Stubbs said he’s learned this lesson himself while making the short.
“I learned a new form of strength in myself just by doing this documentary,” the Orlando resident said.
As a student, Stubbs is excited to get his film out of the classroom and onto the big screen.
“It’s amazing to have audience feedback and to really see how an audience receives your piece.”
Edgar Jorge will also show a short that won Best of Brouhaha at the FFF. The soon-to-be University of Central Florida graduate’s film “A Coincidence of Sorts” will be his first entry in the festival. He can’t wait to see his short with an audience and said having people watch his work builds confidence in his skills as a filmmaker.
The Venezuela native’s family has a history in the filmmaking industry, which inspired his interest. When he moved to the United States as a teenager, it was a way for him to deal with living in a new place and new culture.
Jorge said he likes how directing and filmmaking force him to be engaged in everything around him, noticing each detail while he works. When watching his film, it’s important for the audience to think with that same philosophy. The idea is simple — a couple talking in a diner — but technically the film is complex: You see the action either through the window or as a reflection in the window, and the story is not exactly what it seems. That makes it special, Jorge said.
“The film is only one image, one take and that image keeps you engaged for seven minutes,” he said.
Visit www.floridafilmfestival.com for film and event times, and to purchase tickets. For more information about Matt Morris, visit www.mattmorrisfilms.com. For Andrew Kenneth Gay, visit www.akg.candlefishpictures.com. For Lavado Stubbs, go to www.lavadostubbs.com.