A Weeping Angel blocks the entrance to Dr. Who’s TARDIS at the New Mexico Film Series and Sci-Fi Fest, Saturday. (Amy Vogelsang Photo)
It was hard to miss the frozen stone statue of a Weeping Angel—actually a person in costume—or the large TARDIS standing amid unnatural fog. It was even harder to miss people clamoring in and out of the blue police box, feigning fear of the angel, all for the sake of pictures.
But the Doctor Who marathon and 50th anniversary celebration were only part of the festivities. The more prominent focus was showcasing local films, as the New Mexico Film Series and Sci-Fi Fest took place for the majority of Saturday at the Roswell Convention Center.
Nine winners of the New Mexico Filmmakers Showcase have been traveling around the state and their third stop was here in Roswell.
One judge for each category watched all the films to choose the winners, but the original 35 or so films were shown in a theatre in Santa Fe, which gave the [auth] filmmakers a chance to see their movies in a different atmosphere besides YouTube, said outreach programs coordinator, Dirk Norris, who is taking the films from city to city.
“Sitting in a theatre taps into the primal DNA of telling stories around a fire in a cave,” he said, elaborating upon the excitement and intimacy a filmmaker feels when he or she gets to see his or her work on a big screen for the first time.
The films were picked based on a criteria sheet that included scores for technical excellence, quality of the story, watchability, overall feel of the film and feedback of positive takeaway, as well as improvement suggestions for the filmmakers.
Although he normally leans toward documentaries and romantic comedies—he shrugs as if to say, “Yes, I’m guilty”—Norris’ favorite film out of the winners was the comedy “Zombiewood,” about a zombie trying to be human and finding a new home in Hollywood.
He mostly leaned toward this film because of its unique premise, he said. But in general, Norris always respects a good story.
“You can do just about anything so long as it’s a good story,” he explained. “A good story, regardless of how it’s told, is a good story.”
Norris has always loved filmmaking. As a child, he starting his filming interests by making a stop motion film with hot wheels cars and Play-Doh and starring in a neighborhood production as Batman, while his brother and friend played Robin and “Mr. Moneybags.”
Now he likes seeing other filmmakers get exposure—that is the whole idea behind this showcase.
One of the directors and writers who has received more exposure, but who is certainly not new to the filmmaking business, is Dusty Deen.
Deen and his friend and partner, Tyler Green, co-wrote and directed a music video this year entitled, “Red Dog.”
Featuring Artesia band S.H.I.L.O., “Red Dog” is about a man in a wheelchair who craves Red Dog beer and goes on crazy adventures through town, thus becoming both the hero as well as the bully, Deen said.
“We created a sort of derelict type person,” Deen explained. Their actor for the main character was a good sport for doing some crazy things, even while being unpaid, Deen continued, laughing.
“The best part about filming (this video) was being able to play by ear and go off-the-cuff,” he said, using the example of a scene where the main character pees on someone. This, again, emphasized how he may be the protagonist, but he that is also a bully.
Luckily, however, besides some lighting challenges, they didn’t run into any big problems while filming, Deen said.
Although the average crowd size for these films is only between 20 and 25 people—and Roswell was no exception to this norm—it is still better than no one.
The winners of this year’s showcase still gained some exposure and popular or not, Norris believes independent films will never die out.
“It’s going to be told in different ways, but we’re always going to have stories,” he said.