LITTLE ROCK — This week the Ozark Foothills FilmFest handed out three $30,000 grants to Arkansas filmmakers proposing to shoot feature-length films in the state. Chosen to receive the awards - which must have casts and crews made up of at least 75 percent Arkansans - were brothers Craig and Brent Renaud, a documentary team who also helpedfound the Little Rock Film Festival; Russellville’s Taylor Feltner; and Juli Jackson of Paragould.
The awards are part of the festival’s Indie Film Initiative, a program funded by Gov. Mike Beebe’s Arkansas Cultural Regional Arts Grant program. The recipients were chosen from a group of 26 applicants, reviewed and selected by a three-person selection committee composed of Bob Pest, presidentand co-founder of the Ozark Foothills FilmFest; Christopher Crane, Arkansas film commissioner; and Tim Jackson, producer/director of Category One Entertainment.
Of his project, My Brother’s Heart, Brent Renaud says, “Our film is the story of three years in the life of a 9-year old Russian-American boy who came to Arkansas Children’s Hospi-tal with his family so his twin brother could receive a new heart. It’s a story about hope and miracles to be sure, but also a tale about the sometimes catastrophic stresses, emotionally, financially and mentally, that caring for a sick child can put on a family.
“We believe this film will be something special, maybe the best thing we have produced thus far, and this grant will allow us to stop, concentrate and sit down with ourhundreds of hours of footage and shape it into a feature film that we hope will have national significance.”
Feltner, who studied filmmaking at Florida State University College of Filmmaking and worked for Allentown Productions in Los Angeles, was most recently a producer on Just Like Us, a documentary about a comedy tour throughout the Middle East.
Feltner’s film, Man Shot Dead, is a documentary that explores “the ripple effect that a tragic murder has on two families, and how it shapes the personalities andpeople of future generations. It’s a filmmaker’s search for truth and an attempt to learn more about himself through a grandfather he will never know.”
Feltner says he can use the funds to expand the story.
“I have reached a critical point in the process ... where if I reach out to additional characters in the story I need to be able to act immediately,” he says. “I have held off in contacting them because I did not have the resources, but now ... I am able to finally move forward. [The grant] has breathed new life into my project and I couldn’t behappier.”
Jackson graduated from the University of the Arts in Philadelphia with a bachelor of fine arts in film and video and has worked as a cinematographer on various independent feature films over the years. She recently moved back to Arkansas after living in Los Angeles for a number of years to develop creative projects of her own.
Jackson says the film, 45 RPM, “is a dark comedy road movie about Charlie, an artist who seeks a connection between her work and her estranged father’s music. She teams up with Louie, an obsessive record collector from Memphis, and begins an exhaustive search for a rare 45 recording from the 1960s Arkansas garage rock scene that takes them both on a journey across the seldom-explored landscape of the new Old South.”
“I wrote 45 RPM to be a low-budget feature film,” she says. She planned to make it with help from close filmmaker friends. “With the grant now adding significantly to the overall budget, I will have the ability to bring on additional cast and crew from different parts of the state to contribute to theproject. Also, I will use some of the funds to round out my post-production costs. These two factors will increase the film’s production value and make for a film experience that wouldn’t be possible without this funding.”
For more information on the films or the Indie Film Initiative, contact Bob Pest at (870) 251-1189 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Levi Agee is a programmer for the Little Rock Film Festival and the founder and host of Cameras on the Radio. E-mail him at: