Kevin and Bittina Sheen of North Kitsap were involved in the Shoreline Short Short Film Festival the past few years.
Both worked their final festival in March.
“The next week it was like, ‘Well that was so much fun. Could we potentially do this ourselves and do it in Poulsbo,’” Bittina said.
The Sheens quickly went forward with their idea and got all the planning in place to make it a reality this year, while also getting married.
The inaugural Poulsbo Film Festival will take place the weekend of Oct. 14-16 at different venues downtown. The festival will bring independent films and filmmakers to the Viking City to celebrate diverse stories from across the country.
“It is a really cool and unique injection into a city that I think needs a little bit more diverse way of telling stories and absorbing and digesting stories too,” Kevin said.
“You’re not going to like every film that you see but that’s part of the joy. You get to watch something that you won’t really be exposed to in any other way. It’s such a unique experience when you leave the theater or when you get to talk to the filmmakers and ask them a question about the movie.”
Bittina added: “To me, it’s bringing something new to Poulsbo. What can we do to make Poulsbo cooler and more fun? I feel like there’s definitely a shift in demographics. For a long time, people thought of Poulsbo as an old-person town. We’re trying to make more things to do for families and young people. Everyone comes to Poulsbo in the summer but this is something to enjoy in the fall.”
The three-day event will consist of film viewings and filmmaker panels. 55 films were submitted for the festival, including 31 from Washington and six from Kitsap County. The film list will be narrowed to 35-40. Most will be shorts, which are up to 30 minutes long, but three feature films were also submitted. Genres include comedy, horror, drama, animation, student films, etc.
“You’re looking for a variety of films: diverse storytelling, diverse filmmakers, people of color, all kinds of things,” Kevin said. “It’s really important to have that when you’re doing a festival, especially independent cinema.”
Awards will also be given to filmmakers for different categories on the last day. Categories will include People’s Choice, Best Feature, Best Comedy, Best Animation, etc. Each winner will also be given a cash prize and a trophy. A group of jurors will be viewing the films to help narrow down the submission list and determine the winners. One of the jurors is producer Gregg Hale, who is best known for his work on The Blair Witch Project.
The festival will take place at three venues — Western Red Brewing, Moe’s on Liberty Bay and Griffin Gallery NW. Western Red will host opening night with a feature film and short film. Moe’s will host the majority of film screenings, providing an intimate venue with over 50 seats. Wine, beer and snacks will be available. Griffin Gallery will host screening and panels.
Kevin is from Indianola and Bittina is from Poulsbo. They dated at NK High School but went their separate ways after graduation before reuniting again in the past few years.
Kevin went to Evergreen State College in Olympia where he became interested in filmmaking and acting. After college, he moved to Seattle where he worked as a production assistant for SpyGirl Productions, and even auditioned as an actor for short and feature films.
“I’ve had some cool opportunities in the world of filmmaking,” Kevin said. “I kind of realized that style and that pace of life just wasn’t for me. I’m more of a small-town kid. I think you can make a big impact in a smaller pool.”
The last five years, Kevin was director of the Shoreline film festival. When he and Bittina started dating again she also helped with the festival. Kevin is now marketing coordinator for Fishline Food Bank, while Bittina is president of the Historic Downtown Poulsbo Association and membership director for the Poulsbo Chamber of Commerce.
“As a team, we thought we worked really well together, and everything was fluid. It was a great working partnership and relationship in general,” Kevin said. “For me, I think I got a really big return from doing the (Shoreline) film festival the last five years. It kind of enriched my own life being around artists as opposed to me creating stuff.”
Tickets are now on sale for the festival at filmfreeway.com/PoulsboFilmFestival/tickets and are about $10-$20 per film block. There will also be higher-priced options for day passes, and an all-access pass good for the entire weekend of events. The full schedule of films and events for each day has not been released yet. Poulsbofilmfestival.com will have the schedule when it becomes available.