Tuesday, May 22, 2018
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Marquee billing: Local filmmakers showcase films at Maumee Indoor

If feature-length films are the main course for movie-goers, then Shorts In January is their appetizer.

A showcase of 16 short movies by nine northwest Ohio filmmakers, Shorts In January, which begins at 6:30 p.m. Friday at the Maumee Indoor Theatre, 601 Conant St., Maumee, is a quick way to sample some of the local creative talent behind and in front of the camera. The shorts range anywhere from 10 minutes to 37 minutes in length — the average about 15 minutes — and include a variety of genres, from drama and comedy to horror and documentary.

Tickets for the event are $7 for adults, and $5 for students, children, seniors, and military, and can be purchased at the Maumee Indoor Theatre box office.

Shorts In January is the brainchild of 40-year-old MJ Koleszar of Toledo, a self-described “guerrilla filmmaker” and owner of film production company Resurrection Films, who said he was anxious to partner with other moviemakers in the area on this endeavor as well as future film projects.

IF YOU GO 

What: Shorts In January

When: 6:30 p.m. Friday

Where: Maumee Indoor Theatre, 601 Conant St., Maumee

Tickets: $7 for adults, and $5 for students, children, seniors, and military at the Maumee Indoor Theatre box office. 

“I’ve known some of these filmmakers through the years, but I haven't worked with them,” Koleszar said. “I went to their [film] premieres. Now it's time to start marketing and networking.”

The idea, then, which he came up with last summer, was to create an opportunity for these filmmakers to screen their work for the general public, not just family and friends, and on a big screen no less, as opposed to a laptop or tablet.

Screening film shorts, as opposed to feature-length movies, allows for far more movies to be shown in that limited time frame, he said. And by sharing the expense of the theater rental as well as other event costs equally among the nine filmmakers, a screening that was perhaps prohibitively expensive for a single filmmaker was then affordable to the many.

“If we all chip in together we cut the cost down,” Koleszar said. Plus, “everyone knows 60 people to invite, so we may make a few bucks.

“The idea was to showcase our stuff,” he added. “And if everybody ends up owing just a little bit at the end, it was worth it.”

That’s one of the big differences between Shorts In January being a filmmaker showcase rather than a film festival, as well as it not being a competition. Films are simply shown, with no voting by judges or audiences nor any awards.

Even without prize money at stake, Matt Erman, 44, of Fostoria, owner of video production company Capture1 Studios whose short Mental State Revelation is screening at Shorts In January, said the showcase is a “really big deal” as both an inspiration to other area filmmakers — “a lot of people don't know that they could do something like this” — as well as a service to those who enjoy short films.

“A lot of short film fans don’t like longer movies, but it’s tough to watch short films” anyplace other than online, Erman said. “It will be neat for them to get to come to the theater and to watch it.”

Having their work shown in a movie theater is also a big deal for the filmmakers, he added.

“You can’t replicate the atmosphere that comes with going to see movies in the cinema,” Erman said. “That to me is is one of the things that electrifies the evening. Not only do the filmmakers get to see their work on the big screen, but all the people involved, actors and actresses down to the boom [operators].”

Toledo resident Dustin Mills, 32, owner of Dustin Mills Productions, who has two films screening at Shorts In January, said he is enthused about not only the big-screen presentation, but watching movie-goers experience his work in person.

“It’s always vindicating if they react the way you think they are going to react, but what is cool is when an audience reacts to things in ways you didn't expect them to react,” perhaps laughing uneasily in a moment of twisted horror, Mills said.

While most filmmakers refer to their art as “a selfish thing and that we mostly do it for ourselves,” he said, “to have feedback and getting praise or even criticism is rewarding.”

Directors-22969429-jpg

Top: Michael DeSanto, left, Kayla Elizabeth, and Matt Erman. Middle: MJ Koleszar, left, Jamal Wallace Knight, and Clint LaForest. Bottom: Lindsey LaForest, left, Dustin Mills, and Larry D Williams II.

Enlarge

The other filmmakers in the Shorts In January showcase are Michael DeSanto, Larry D Williams II, Clinton LaForest and Lindsey LaForest, Kayla Elizabeth, and Jamal Wallace Knight. The event is hosted by comedian Kool Keith.

One of his goals with the showcase, Koleszar said, was to help foster connections among area filmmakers as well as to share advice from those in the profession with those who aspire to be (be they student or weekend filmmakers). During the event, each filmmaker will take a brief Q&A following his or her film screening(s). Koleszar is also reaching out to the film departments at the University of Toledo and Bowling Green State University.

Koleszar said that he hopes Shorts In January becomes an annual event or even more, such as a Shorts In July. In fact, he has already been contacted by a few area filmmakers who would like to be part of another Shorts showcase.

“I see the potential for us to be a Detroit or a Cleveland,” he said, “where local filmmakers are working together and helping out each other.

“We can make better films as opposed to people running around with cameras just having fun.”

Contact Kirk Baird at kbaird@theblade.com or 419-724-6734.

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