February 28, 2013

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People are the asset needed for success in every venture. Chattanooga has seen an explosion in the music scene over the past few years because people have invested in encouraging its growth and nurturing a distinctly local culture. From Track 29 to JJ’s Bohemia, Nightfall to Riverfront Nights, music in Chattanooga has never been stronger or more at the forefront of the arts community. This has happened because the people of this city—the artists, business owners and fans—have come together to make it happen. Now, there is another piece of the arts that is poised to have a revolution.  

Slowly, the film community is beginning to come together. We have active filmmakers in Chattanooga right now turning out quality work and joining together to encourage the industry here, just like the music scene over the past few years. Groups like the Chattanooga Film Society and Mis En Scenesters, and institutions such as Chattanooga State and Southern Adventist University are making film more important and visible and each are giving filmmakers the resources to create their art. One of the newest places that encourages this collaboration is The Backlot at the Heritage House, located at 1428 Jenkins Road in East Brainerd, where a meeting of like-minds occurs every third Monday.

Heritage House manager Chris Holley created The Backlot after talking to area filmmakers about their needs. “We work with a lot of filmmakers and film students and it came up over and over again that there was no central place to meet or do things like casting calls, screenings, readings and general collaborating. So, we created a ‘place’,” she says.  “I want to emphasize place because we are not a group. We are a place for all of the many diverse film groups and individuals to meet.”  

This type of gathering is absolutely essential in creating an open atmosphere for the film scene to grow in Chattanooga. In most parts of the country you can’t throw a rock without hitting a musician. Bands are easily formed and sprout almost weekly. But film is much more specialized, requiring many more people who are willing to donate their time and energy to a project. A filmmaker can’t expect to show up in someone’s garage every Tuesday for two hours and hope to create a watchable movie. The Backlot provides a place for filmmakers, actors, writers, composers and film enthusiasts to meet and exchange information, collaborate on projects and generally be productive in a field where it is sometimes difficult to find interested, capable collaborators.  

During any given meeting, participants might screen a local project, meet people who have worked on big projects like “42,” engage in a script reading, audition for a part in a film or listen to a film score composed right here in Chattanooga. The first meeting, held on Feb. 18, screened “In The Grey,” a short student film from Southern Adventist University which can currently be viewed on The Backlot’s Facebook page. The film is surprisingly well acted, with excellent cinematography and production values—a wonderful achievement for a student film. Talent is not in short supply in Chattanooga and The Backlot is the perfect place to encounter it first.

The next meeting is set for 6 p.m. on Monday, March 18. Anyone interested in film, those with current projects or finished films, or those with just basic ideas or who are looking for ideas should make an effort to attend. If you’d like to screen your film, contact Holly at the Heritage House. The Backlot is free, no cover charge (but no popcorn). Even if you don’t make films, but you think you might want to, The Backlot is the place to be. Keep your finger on the pulse of a rising and exciting arts community that is just now beginning to make waves in the area. Check out The Backlot. Like them on Facebook.  Support local film.

For more information or reservations, contact Heritage House manager Chris Holley at (423) 855-9474 or email at


February 28, 2013

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