Three events at Vail Film Fest for aspiring filmmakers | VailDaily.com

Three events at Vail Film Fest for aspiring filmmakers

Jessica Smith
Special to the Daily

Saturday, April 7, is a big day for the Vail Film Festival. In addition to a full slate of films at multiple locations, the festival is also featuring a panel discussion and a workshop, as well as hosting its award ceremony. Here's a look at what's on the docket to whet your film-loving appetite.

Join the discussion

At 11:30 a.m. in the GMC Theater at Blue Starlite Cinema, the festival will host its second Women in Film panel discussion. The main focus of this year's panel is "Getting From Script to Screen," in which the panelists — all experienced women within the film industry — will discuss the insider's perspective of the business, bolstered by personal stories from throughout their careers.

"We want to have this specific panel to make (the film industry) not seem so intimidating, and talk to people who have done it," said Megen Musegades, one of the executive producers of the film festival. "We want people to feel empowered that they can do it themselves."

She added, "I always think personal stories are the best way of learning and understanding."

One of her fellow executive producers at the festival, Sean Cross, said that having a women-centric focus at this year's festival seemed like just the right thing to do. With women still vastly underrepresented in all aspects of the film industry, those at the festival wanted to support female filmmakers and their projects.

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"We thought it'd be a great idea to give more of a focus to the Vail Film Festival and really try to make a difference, and just support female filmmakers, and hopefully contribute to some kind of change," Cross said. "Obviously, screening films and giving a voice to independent artists has been part of our mission from the beginning, and now to have an ever stronger focus with a mission that can contribute more positively is important to us."

This year's panel will be moderated by the Vail Daily's Tricia Swenson, and includes Colorado deputy film commissioner Mariel Rodriguez-McGill. Three other filmmakers in attendance include Stacy Cochran, Kerry David and Molly McGlynn. Cochran has directed films with stars such as Diane Lane and Winona Ryder, and her film "Write When You Get Work" shows at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday. David started at Paramount Pictures and has worked for over two decades in the industry, including serving as executive assistant to Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman before starting her own production company in 2001. Her film "Bill Coors: The Will To Live" is showing on Saturday and Sunday. Molly McGlynn is a Canadian filmmaker who has won numerous awards for her short films. Her first feature-length film, "Mary Goes Round," will be screening on Friday and Saturday.

In an interview over the phone earlier in the week, McGlynn discussed how it took her several years to build up the confidence to take on the industry.

"No one's going to break through for you," she said. However, she's also had many positive experiences. "People have been extremely supportive, and my break into TV has been a little faster than I thought, compared to if I were me 10 years ago. I wonder if that would be different."

That said she's looking forward to the panel discussion, and to supporting the other filmmakers at the festival as well.

Cross encourages anyone who is interested in the behind-the-scenes aspects of filmmaking to attend the panel.

"For anyone who wants to learn about filmmaking or who is an aspiring filmmaker," he said, "I think the panels are such a great experience for them to get of hands-on advice and also to learn about what it takes to be successful in the film industry."

Step-by-step instructions

Following the panel, at 1 p.m. at Vail Mountain Haus, Colorado-based director and filmmaker Diane Bell will be leading a free workshop entitled "Shoot From the Heart." The workshop is a slimmed down version of a two-day course that she teaches in Denver, by the same name.

Bell says that the workshop is for "anyone who wants to make a movie, but doesn't really know how that happens."

Bell's first film, "Obselida," was made with a small budget and was a smash hit at the famed Sundance Film Festival. Following that, she made a film with a much larger budget, starring big names like Jessica Biel, but found that the process left her less than satisfied. Upon finishing that project, Bell said she had an epiphany, and became passionate about sharing her insider knowledge with others.

"My aim is to demystify things, make things clear and simple for people," she said, to the point where they will have no more excuses not to make a film.

Bell's latest film, "Of Dust and Bones," is showing in its world premier at the festival, playing on Saturday at 4:30 p.m. in the GMC Theater at Blue Starlite Cinema, and on Sunday at 3:45 p.m. at CineBistro at Solaris.

Unlike her second film, this film was one in which she maintained creative control and challenged herself, she said. "I took all the creative risks when I was making this movie, and I made the movie I wanted to make in a completely uncompromising way."

The workshop will offer attendees a glimpse into the way that Bell accomplished this, running quickly through her 16-step process of making a movie.

"I'm giving them an overview of the filmmaking process, which is not the conventional process, but the entrepreneurial self-starting process that anyone can do anywhere," she said.

Acknowledging excellence

At the end of the day Saturday, the festival will put on its award ceremony, including the Excellence in Acting award. Its recipient this year is Aya Cash, who stars as the titular character in the film "Mary Goes Round." The film premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival and will be showing in Vail on Friday (8:30 p.m.) and Saturday (8:45 p.m.).

It was the first feature-length film project for writer and director Molly McGlynn. When considering who would play the role of Mary, McGlynn said she had seen Cash's work on the television show "You're the Worst," and was already a fan.

"She has this like way of balancing the lightness with a real darkness that I think comes so natural to her," McGlynn said. "And it's just so rare. Even across the TV I was like, this was the person who was going to capture it, and I was right."

On choosing Cash as the recipient of the award, festival executive director Sean Cross said, "For a while now, we've thought she was someone to watch and she brings so much authenticity to all of her roles. She definitely can carry a lot of weight and lead a film, … so we thought it was a great opportunity to give her an award to acknowledge all the work that she's done and the work that she does in this film, which is really pretty powerful."

"We were so impressed by the work that she's done," Megen Musegades, fellow executive director for the festival, said. "We were very happy that she accepted."

Cash, for her part, said she was honored to get the award, particularly at a festival with a woman-centric focus.

"It's wonderful to be a part of a film festival that's putting women forward," she said by phone on Wednesday. "I think it's pretty depressing if you look at the numbers on female filmmakers, and I think people are starting to wake up and realize that those numbers need to go up and that there's a wealth of talent out there to help those numbers go up. So anything we can do to draw awareness to bring more women into film in all departments — directing, cinematography, grips — that's important. I think it's a good thing that Vail's putting the spotlight on it."

Cash added that she's excited to attend the festival, and that it's always a treat to see films on the big screen, especially as one of the first audiences to see them. As for her film, she hopes that everyone enjoys it in their own way.

"I just think good storytelling is good storytelling and hopefully people will connect with that."

For more information on times, locations and showings, visit http://www.vailfilmfestival.com.