Film Blast spotlights – and funds – a growing list of Detroit filmmakers | Movies | Detroit

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An image from “Delineation” by Rishi Guddyguriki.

Local opportunities to make, screen and watch films can often seem inaccessible, cutting off filmmakers and audiences from sources of engagement and support. But Film Blast, a local Detroit-centric working festival that opens this Friday at Hamtramck’s Ant Hall, aims to address those concerns. The event aims to bring audiences and creators together for a hands-on panel on distributing works online, a block of short works and a new pair of commissioned films with an afterparty to follow.

For festival founder and organizer Ted Houser (also a filmmaker himself), the goal of creating the festival was not just to help create a local filmmaking community, but to do so in an ethical and sustainable way. . In the case of Film Blast, this meant paying all collaborators, whether they were members of the screening committee, filmmakers showing their material or artists showing newly commissioned works financed by the festival itself: a rarity on the festival circuit. .

“I’m really excited about the opportunity to work directly with filmmakers to create content that will premiere at the festival,” Houser said. Metro timetables. “I’ve never really seen a festival work with their films in this way.” He describes one of the movies as a buddy comedy (as Houser puts it, “vast city meets Friday”) and another as a spoof inspired by a certain local attorney familiar with Metro Detroit residents, and expresses a goal to feature more commissions down the line.

“What I hope is that [over time] we have more sponsor support and we can move into production – so we can have consistent, high-quality work from local filmmakers,” Houser says. The festival’s funding model also returns 40% of ticket sales to featured artists, an amount comparable to what they would see at a standard theatrical performance. “It’s a super important part for me to do this event,” Houser said. “Because it’s not just a place to show up and watch a movie, it’s a place that actively supports the local film community.”

Houser hopes for a future iteration of the festival that happens as often as three times a year, envisioning something like an equal split between newly commissioned and locally produced works. This means that these two modes of production are equal priorities for the showcase, each being a vital path for local artists wishing to produce and show their work.

Houser is also excited about the festival’s first set of submissions: a collection of works as varied in perspective and approach as the scenes from which they originate. “What I love about film programming is how diverse it is – in genre, in representation, but also just in emotion. Even with the filmmakers I’ve been following for a while, they really impressed me,” says Houser, who suggested members of the festival’s rotating committee of programmers consider their own tastes and not necessarily prioritize production value in what they chose. “I was looking for things that were really authentic, interesting and engaging,” he says.

With Film Blast’s shorts encompassing process-centric meditations like ‘Blackbird Mother’ alongside the stunt-focused three-minute sci-fi ‘Omicron 2042’, the works share both a sense of topicality and responsiveness to the present while maintaining highly individualized methods and approaches. . The showcase also includes jagged, dystopian “Powerful Solutions” and the much more low-key interpersonal drama “Arrivals and Departures.” Together, the works submitted for all their variety total just under 70 minutes of work.

“During this calendar year, [we have] all these different genres of movies are being made,” he says. “All these very diverse aesthetic tastes, these narrative tendencies: it’s all happening simultaneously. And we get to see it all at once.

In singling out Brett Miller’s domestic horror film “Devils” as one of his favorites, Houser expresses a feeling that some of the artists involved in this year’s Film Blast may soon be transitioning from shorts to feature films, even finding purchases both at major festivals and the national scene.

“It’s very solid — the camera is always in the right place,” says Houser. “It’s super tense and there’s barely a word in it. And I really feel like Brett is a filmmaker who comes into his own. So I’m really excited to see what he does afterwards.

But he also notes that the upliftment of local artists can be bittersweet for the Detroiters, pointing to the work of Qasim Basir (2018 Sundance pick A boy, a girl, a dream and Danny Glover from 2011 with Mooz-lum) as an example of an artist who, after achieving a certain level of success, largely left the region to pitch and produce work in places like Los Angeles or New York, the industry’s traditional hubs. (It follows director David Robert Mitchell provides another example, and there are sure to be more to follow.)

Regardless of where each artist goes down the line, Houser hopes to make the recurring festival a regular fixture in the Detroit arts community, fostering an atmosphere of healthy collaboration and creative exchange. For everyone in attendance, from the opening panel to the festival’s afterparty, Houser hopes Film Blasts can bring a sense of consistency, filling a void in the local scene.

“I think an important part of building a film community is meeting in person,” Houser says, emphasizing the importance of film events that are open to the general public. “Because it’s crowd-sourced, isn’t it?” We need strong public support, we need a lot of people to come out.

If the festival is successful, he says, it will offer “unrelated grassroots filmmakers” the opportunity to submit and show their work, creating a regular local space to connect with audiences and collaborators.

“I see a lot of opportunities in the future. I’d love to move on to find a way to show feature films, I’d love to incorporate all the other great Detroit artists who are here new work,” Houser says. “If they have a good job, we want to play it.”

The event begins at 6 p.m. on Friday, September 9 at Planet Ant’s Ant Hall, 2320 Caniff St., Hamtramck; linktr.ee/filmblast. Tickets are $18.

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Robert M. Larson