On November 20 and 21, 2013, the Super Gr8 Film Festival will return for its fourth year of showcasing films in downtown Harrisonburg. This local festival, founded by Tim Estep and Paul Somers, is held at Court Square Theater and will feature more than 50 locally produced films. All films in the festival were shot using vintage cameras and Super 8 film, the format popularized for home movies in the 1960s and 1970s.
Sign-ups for the festival began in August 2013, where interested participants gathered to pick up their film, cameras, and tips from local film professionals and enthusiasts. Participants then had until October to shoot and turn in their films.
Each filmmaker makes their film on a single cartridge of Super 8 film, which amounts to approximately 3 minutes and 20 seconds of footage. There are no second takes or editing of the films; each film has to be carefully planned out scene by scene and shot in order. Upon completion of shooting, filmmakers turn in their film reel along with original audio they created to be put together by Tim and Paul. Filmmakers do not get to view their finished films until the night of the festival.
Filmmakers are also asked to create a poster for their film, all of which are on display throughout the festival. Below are just a few of this year’s selections:
The Super Gr8 Film Festival is the only festival of its kind in the world and it has sold out for the past two years. Anticipation of each year’s festival is incredibly high and the excitement and collaborative spirit is palpable at each night of the festival, when cheering, applause, and shout-outs resound throughout the historic theater with the showing of each film.
This year’s crop of filmmakers continues to be diverse, with people of all ages and from all walks of life. Some filmmakers in the festival have never made a film before, some have only shot on digital formats, and some have been making films for years.
“The beauty of the Super 8 film format is that it levels the playing field since not many people actively use it anymore,” says Paul. “It’s a leap for everyone, and the most amazing thing is that you see people who have never made a film before making amazing films.”
Harrisonburg’s creative community has welcomed Super Gr8 since its inception as an opportunity to pool their collective abilities, talents, ideas, and visions. The medium of film provides a meeting ground for actors, directors, cinematographers, designers, musicians, and artists, and the festival further helps to bring all of these creative people together.
Each year, the festival grows not only in the number of people involved, but also in what it offers to the community. This year’s festival featured Film Trivia Night and prizes at the festival sign-ups in August. Trivia was created and hosted by Super Gr8 filmmakers Brent Finnegan and Wade Vanover at the Artful Dodger.
The festival also hosted a benefit dinner in September with a menu created and prepared by Chef Ryan Zale, Rachel Herr, and Mike Hill of the Local Chop & Grill House. The menu featured local products, seasonal specialties, and whimsical interpretations of classics.
Another new element that is sure to raise additional excitement about the festival is a documentary titled “Life Is Super Gr8,” set to premiere on WVPT (PBS) tonight (Thursday, November 14) at 8:30 PM. The documentary was created by Alex Kent and Wade Vanover of local production company Lurid Pictures. Alex and Wade have worked with the Super Gr8 Film Festival for three years, not only submitting their own films but also creating the popular promotional videos for the 2011 festival and 2012 festival and intermission video for the 2011 festival, all of which featured festival filmmakers.
According to Wade, their success as a company is due in large part to their work with the festival and, in particular, the opportunity to create the 2011 intermission film. “I credit much of our success as Lurid Pictures to the Super Gr8 Film Festival,” says Wade. “Tim and Paul offered us a chance to create something interesting. If it wasn’t for that project, I think Lurid Pictures would be an entirely different entity, if it existed at all.”
Due to Super Gr8’s growth and reputation, Lurid Pictures and festival organizers all saw the need to create a documentary about the festival. “We want people to understand the process of Super Gr8 filmmaking and what makes the festival so unique,” Wade explains. “We also wanted to start documenting the entire process as thoroughly as possible for any future projects.”
The Super Gr8 Film Festival 2013 will be held at Court Square Theater at 41 Court Square in downtown Harrisonburg. Black and white films will be shown at 7:00 pm on Wednesday, November 20 and color films will be shown at 7:00 pm on Thursday, November 21. Immediately following each night’s showing, an awards ceremony and after-party will be held at the Blue Nile at 181 North Main Street.
Tickets are available for $10 each online at http://www.supergr8.com. Any tickets not sold online by the time of the festival will be sold at the door for $15 each. Get your tickets early because it tends to sell out quickly!
Thanks to the organizers, sponsors, filmmakers, composers, actors, artists, and all involved for bringing this festival to our community! Thanks to you, life in Harrisonburg is Super Gr8!
Nicole Martorana is the Editor of the Do Downtown blog and the Promotions Manager for Harrisonburg Downtown Renaissance. This is her third year creating a film for the Super Gr8 Film Festival.