I’ve been covering film in Chattanooga for more than two years. When I started, there wasn’t much to report. Occasionally, there would be an independent film series or a student film festival, but most weeks were spent writing about whatever schlock Hollywood forced on its captive audience of teenagers and casual viewers. But now, there seems to be a film story everywhere I look. It’s great from a writing standpoint because I don’t have to waste my time seeing the newest Adam Sandler film. I don’t need 800 words to tell you a movie sucks, but my editors tend to frown on two word reviews. I can choose the movies I want to see and cover film events and programs at the same time. It’s an exciting time to be a film enthusiast in Chattanooga.
This week, I reached out to several of my contacts to update me about what’s happening in film right now and what’s coming up. The response was so overwhelming I can’t include everything, so I’ll to try to hit the highlights.
Chattanooga State Professional Film and Television Program
I’ve covered this program before in The Pulse. It is the only film program in the area that focuses on hands-on training for students interested in working in film. The South is becoming a more viable option for Hollywood studios and, as a result, they need professionals to work on the technical aspects of film. If we can train a base of skilled light designers, electricians, makeup artists and other behind-the-scenes pros, Chattanooga becomes more attractive to these studios, bringing jobs to the area and a boost to the local economy. It is a very cool program, one that has real-world applications for its students. This summer, the students have been working on a feature film funded by a Kickstarter campaign. According to Chris Willis, the film is called “Coal River Crossing” and follows James, a late twenties man dealing with his past and present circumstances. The film is nearly 80 percent completed and will be submitted to the South by Southwest Film Festival. More information about the project can be found at coalrivercrossing.com.
Chattamovies is a newer group that encourages networking between local filmmakers. Founder Jimmy Lee describes Chattamovies as “a group of movie makers that have our own individual projects going on [that] work as a group, too. The two main goals of the group are for people to network and find other people to help them make something.”
The group meets monthly, hoping to enrich and encourage a strong community of filmmakers. One of the cooler parts of Chattamovies is their Earluminator Open Screen nights, which take place in both Chattanooga and Atlanta. These screen nights are essentially open mic nights for filmmakers. This gives artists an opportunity to have their work screened and critiqued by other filmmakers, which is an invaluable resource for any artist. The next Open Screen Night is at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 22, at the Heritage House in East Brainerd. For more information on Chattamovies, check out chattamovies.com.
Heritage House Arts and Civic Center
Chattanooga Film Society member and Heritage House arts assistant Kris Jones most recently worked for five weeks on the feature film “42: The Jackie Robinson Story.” While I spent a day wandering around the set, not talking and pretending to eat hot dogs, Jones served as a locations assistant, a greenskeeper, a set painter and an intern coordinator. As the arts assistant at the Heritage House, Jones has assisted with the planning of their first movie series, which focuses on the “film noir” genre. The first screening is a free showing of Edgar G. UImer’s “Detour.”