PORT ORCHARD — While it’s no threat to the likes of Cannes, France or Sundance, Utah, Kitsap County’s own Port Orchard is gingerly entering the ranks of cities that claim their own film festival.
The Port Orchard Film Festival, set for May 5-7 at the Dragonfly Cinema, promises to unveil a fascinating, eclectic and varied schedule of films from just about every genre that’s been captured through a variety of cinematic formats, including full-blooded feature-length film, animation, 15-second video snippets and cinema verite-style documentaries.
The first-ever film festival here is the brainchild of Dragonfly Cinema owner Nick Taylor and the theater’s special events/community outreach coordinator Amy Camp.
This ambitious undertaking was one of the ideas Taylor included in his business proposal to former theater owner Gryphon Shafer, who selected the former San Diego film-school graduate to succeed him as the Dragonfly’s new proprietor.
“I submitted a proposal that included a page of ideas that I thought would be interesting and cool,” Taylor said. “A film festival was part of it. It’s really rooted in the fact that there is a filmmaking community not only in Port Orchard but in the greater Kitsap area.
“There really isn’t any way to showcase what’s happening here. We feel like this is filling a void.”
Taylor conceded that there are hundreds of film festivals in existence, but he said many of them rise and fall after a few years. That’s where Greenville, S.C., native Camp came into play. Her skill set is in organizing — a perfect talent to utilize in setting up an event that includes a lot of moving parts.
The event director said she’s also getting advice from her brother in California, who has a background in the film industry. He’s a filmmaker and does fashion photo shoots for a jewelry company there.
Gesturing to filmmaker and theater owner Taylor and referencing her brother, Camp said, “These guys are all the artistic ones, I’m the organizational type.”
As soon as a decision was made to stage a film festival, Camp and Taylor set out to solicit film submittals. Thanks to the power of social media, their calls for entries haven’t gone unnoticed. About a month away from the show, Camp said they’ve accepted at least 110 entries from around the world.
“The web has really helped us spread the word about our festival,” Camp said. “We’ll be playing a little of everything — from microfilms and music videos to full-length motion pictures and long- and short-form documentaries.”
She said they’ve established a special category for microfilms — snippets that run under 15 seconds in length, all shot on different formats, such as smart phones, a Super 8 camera and computers. Camp said she previewed a 15-second clip “where I laughed out loud.”
The entries have demonstrated to Camp that the quality of a film isn’t solely a result of its budget. “A lot of the films were shot on a shoestring budget,” she said. “Just because someone spent a lot of money on a film doesn’t mean it’s a great film. And a film shot with little money isn’t necessarily going to be a bad film.”
Making a film these days doesn’t require pocketfuls of cash like it did a few decades ago. Taylor said filmmakers have access to filmmaking equipment now that provides professional results in a price range suited for consumers.
Camp and Taylor said they’ve been impressed by the craftsmanship demonstrated by the filmmakers. Taylor said an especially compelling full-length film called “The Sisterhood of Shred” follows a group of Seattle women “who are into mountain biking and do tricks and everything. It’s really impressive and the shots are gorgeous.”
Other shorts will be featured, from one minute in length up to 30 minutes. Camp said an entry from Germany was submitted, which she teased by saying “it is amazing.”
Camp and Taylor also are considering featuring a film block of Northwest entries because of the quality and quantity of regional entries. One of those Puget Sound-based films is a 10-minute documentary made in Seattle that investigates the world of … underground Jello wrestling by a group of young women who stage these unconventional events. “It was really well-shot and an interesting story. I thought it was great.”
Another entry, this one from France, is an animated film called “Zero Degrees.” Camp calls the result “gorgeous.”
“It’s absolutely beautiful. It’s about a man who lives all alone in the Arctic who journals into a tape recorder just about nature. The scenes are beautiful.”
Plenty of Bay Street businesses will take part in the festival, Taylor said, including the Home Made Cafe, Coffee Oasis and the 714 Brick House Grill, which will serve at the May 7 awards ceremony and various post-screening parties. He said Comfort Inn on Bay Street is offering a 20-percent discount for guests who request the special rate during the festival’s run.
Camp said tickets will be sold for $8, giving attendees access to a specific block of shows. One-, two- and three-day passes also will be sold. The one-day pass for the Friday shows is $10, Saturday is $20 and Sunday is $15.
Two stand-alone appearances are being featured at the festival. Alison Arngrim of TV’s “Little House on the Prairie” fame will make an appearance and perform her one-woman show. Tickets are extra.
Prominent area screenwriter and filmmaker Steve DeJarnatt also will appear on Saturday night of the festival.
For more information about the Port Orchard Film Festival, visit the Dragonfly Cinema website at www.dragonflycinema.com.