You live in the Farmington Valley and it's far away from Hollywood, but you love film.
If that statement describes you, what can you do to break into the film industry?
Avon Patch talked to some local filmmakers about their videos that will be screened at the on Friday at Collinsville's Bridge Street Live. Here's what got them into film and what advice they have for you to get started in filmmaking.
When you can't go all the way to Hollywood to get your start, why not bring Hollywood to the Valley?
Brian Smith, known as Brian Spectre in the film world, owns Avon-based Atlantian Films. He is working on a science fiction feature film called that will meld some Hollywood camerawork and acting with Farmington Valley film talent.
An article from a local publication about a trailer for the original independent version of the film shown at last year's Farmington Valley film fete caught the eye of an employee at Enfield-based Worldwide Asset Group, now a financier for the project. The plan is to reshoot it in the Farmington Valley, Connecticut and elsewhere.
This year, Spectre's low-budget extended trailer for Vigilante, Inc., a television series concept he's working on, is on the film fete program. Spectre acts alongside Steve Emirzian, of Canton, Craig and Kerry Murphy, of West Hartford, Christina Dufour, of Plainville, and Laurie, Austin and Brooke Ferguson, of New Hartford, in the five-minute trailer.
He said that they are shopping it to cable television networks.
In Vigilante, Inc., three former special-ops marines discharged from service grow restless as civilians, sick of drug lords, terrorists and other criminals getting away with evil. Much like Batman and other comic hero lore but without the superhero powers, they team up to battle criminals when law enforcement and the justice system can't, Spectre said. He described it as a "rated R A-Team kind of thing."
When a journalist is taken hostage overseas and the United States won't negotiate with her terrorist captors, a billionaire hires the team and equips them with the technology needed to rescue her and take out the bad guys, according to Spectre.
Spectre, who watches a lot of broadcast news when he's not working, said that he grew sickened by the bad things people get away with. He cited the outcome of the Casey Anthony trial as an example.
"Half of the injustice is how the justice system isn't just all the time," he said.
Collinsville's Doug Tubach, who freelances at San Francisco-based Industrial Light and Magic (ILM) and most recently did visual effects work on The Avengers, filmed part of the Vigilante, Inc. trailer and is involved in the visual effects for Mindscapes.
Atlantian Films also filmed local artist Bill Benson performing Rodeo Cowboy on Sam Collins Day in downtown Collinsville last year and helped him produce a country music video that will be screened at the film fete.
Why film in the Farmington Valley?
"I just think there's a vast amount of terrain to use," Spectre said, such as "great foliage," "mountainous areas" and "beautiful lakes and rivers."
There are also creative ways to make use of what's in the region. For instance, he used Dunning Sand & Gravel in Farmington as the setting for desert scenes in Vigilante, Inc.
And when you need a scene in the city, Spectre said Connecticut has a wealth of cities that aren't as "crazy" as New York City. Film permits are also cheaper and Connecticut gives 30 percent tax breaks to filmmakers.
"The Valley is a really great place to film in general because you’re right in the middle of everything without having to go too far," he said.
How Spectre got into Film
As it so happens, music is what got Spectre into film. Spectre, a former studio drummer, worked as a sound engineer on everything from music productions to cat food commercials. Surrounded by filmmakers, he grew interested in all the elements of telling a story, from sound to image. He did mostly music videos in the beginning and later moved onto documentaries and now feature films. He has been making films, long and short, for at least 20 years.
Spectre's advice for breaking into film
- "The first thing I would say is have fun," he said, adding that if it's about the money, "don't do it."
- Instead of going to an expensive film school, go to a bookstore and buy a book about filmmaking, Spectre said. That will teach you the basics you need to get started. He recommends $30 Film School by Michael W. Dean and Make Your Own Hollywood Movie by Ed Gaskell. There are also online courses you can take.
- Start learning on low-budget equipment.
Canton's Evan Camporeale, a rising college sophomore who just transferred to the University of Rhode Island, produced a time lapse video short called that will open the film fete that is set in the Farmington Valley to the music of The Cinematic Orchestra. A preview of the film is posted on the film fete event page on the commission's website.
"Since the only requirements were to shoot partially in the Farmington Valley, I figured why not try and put the valley itself on display for people to see how beautiful of a place it really is," Camporeale wrote in an email to Avon Patch. "I fell in love with some time lapses that I had seen online of places such as Yosemite, Moab, and Patagonia, and always wanted to do my own, and this gave me a perfect opportunity."
You'll recognize images of Avon Old Farms, the old Collinsville axe factory, Simsbury Commons and the largest Connecticut tree in Simsbury.
His film school short, Why Me? – about a girl who comes to grip with herself after struggling through problems that many face and finds the strength within – will be screened at the film fete Friday, as well as a music video he produced called, Cinematropolis.
He previously submitted the music video to a Blue Scholars short film contest that sought filmmakers to develop videos incorporating their album, Cinematropolis. Drawing from the themes of the title song, he and his friends made a street mural of the album cover and shot the music video outside of Downright Music in Collinsville.
Why film in the Farmington Valley?
Camporeale said the Valley has a robust arts scene, describing it as diverse and full of stories. Through a network of local talent, Camporeale said he's learned a lot and enjoys working with "creative and open minds."
How Camporeale got into film
Camporeale's passion for photography transitioned into a knack for moving pictures. He said he was exposed to cameras and editing at a young age and he loves film because he can control what the audience sees. Some of his work will soon be featured in "clips" at New York City's Times Square.
Camporeale's advice for breaking into film:
- "My advice for people trying to get into film, is to just film anything and everything," Camporeale said. I used to get laughed at for shooting footage of certain things, and heck I'll be the first to admit it can look quite stupid sometimes, but now after seeing some of my work when people see me filming something that most people normally wouldn't they'll come up to me and ask me what my next project is or how to shoot something themselves and it's the coolest respect that I couldn't be more appreciative of."
- "Capturing a scene for what it is and not trying to make too much of it is also something I learned along the way, taking in as many perspectives as possible," he said. "Open mindedness is key. Filmmakers aren't just visual creators, but we are storytellers first and foremost."