Fall Shorts Film Event Saturday brings artists, news about filmmaking to Gadsden

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Jerry Ramsey and Candace Krissie of Rainbow City recently wrapped their first full-length feature film, currently in post-production.
Jerry Ramsey and Candace Krissie of Rainbow City recently wrapped their first full-length feature film, currently in post-production.

Movie fans —and especially movie makers — are invited to Projex's latest screening event Saturday at the Gadsden Museum of Art.

The Fall Shorts Film Event, from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. is free and open to the public.

In addition to screening 10 short film projects, organizer Jerry Ramsey said, the event will feature speakers and film news: the establishment of the North Alabama Film Commission, with Candace Krissie as inaugural president, Ramsey as founding chairman and Jacksonville State University film professor Jeff Nichols as a founding board member.

Krissie and Ramsey, of Vacant Lot Films, released a trailer this summer for their independent production, the psychological horror film "A Dark Corner," written and directed by Krissie.

The commission will serve several North Alabama counties and will be headquartered in Gadsden, Ramsey said. The area needs a film commission, he said, to make it "official" as a part of the film industry.

"Birmingham and Mobile already have a commission, so we are playing a little catch-up, but the possibilities are endless," Ramsey said.

The commission's aim will be bringing more projects to the area, and to hopefully have the opportunity to take part in Alabama's film incentive programs.

"There is so much talent in North Alabama, beautiful locations, and plenty of great citizens and local business owners that support the film industry growing here," he said.

Projex has hosted previous events at the museum, including a kick-off spring event that attracted the director and producers of the movie "Survivor Girls," which completed its filming last spring, largely in Gadsden.

The year-end event Saturday will include screenings of several award winning short films, and a number of film maker presenters, including:

• Meagan Bellflower began work in filmmaking at 17 as a script supervisor for the Erwin Brothers film "October Baby." She worked in the camera department for National Geographic's "Doomsday Preppers" and "Mudlovin' Rednecks" on Animal Planet, and shot auditions for "America's Got Talent"; and was second assistant camera on "Mom's Night Out" starring Sean Astin and Sarah Drew.

At 21, after developing a disorder that required neurosurgery, she started college and focused on her own project. She started a YouTube channel, shot her debut short film — "The Perfect Woman," which will be presented Saturday — and is writing a novel. She is a psychology and neuroscience major at UAB, and said she is fascinated with both the arts and sciences.

• Director Katherine Johnson will show three projects. Recent films she worked on include "The Reliant," "Resemblance" and "Summer of '67."

She is the founder and executive producer at Sheepshed Entertainment and recently won Best Director of a Short Film at the International Christian Film Festival. She said she enjoys teaching production skills and training tomorrow's filmmakers. With Christ at the center of her life, she said she aims to produce meaningful stories and share His love in every area of her life.

• Rico Shay is an independent film writer, director, producer and videographer from Montgomery. He wrote his first film in 2018 and established So Visionaire Films later that summer.

He says he has a close relationship with God and "patiently perseveres" toward what he wants to achieve. He has written, directed and produced nine short films; written a feature he aims to get completed; and has four more shorts and shows in development. He won Best Student Film at the 2020 Sidewalk Film Festival for "Slave 2," filmed comedian DC Young Fly's show at the Stardome and produced and directed the TV pilot "Funny Guy."

• Laura Ann Heaton Gray grew up in Atlanta and was a professional dancer with The Georgia Ballet, which led to her touring with Disney’s "Beauty And The Beast" Broadway touring show. She was a theatre major with a concentration in directing and arts management at the University of North Alabama.

A few day player roles on shows like "Resurrection" on ABC, the Lifetime pilot "H.R." and "Devious Maids" led to a newfound love for film and she began writing, producing, and directing her own projects in 2014.

Since then, her company, Excelsior Studios, has produced award-winning films and in February opened up a sound stage in Huntsville where her company specializes in video commercial advertising and photography.

• Mike Hayhurst is an award-winning film and theater director and producer. He was born and raised in the United Kingdom, and founded Evening Squire Productions in 2016.

Evening Squire short films include "15 Down, available on Prime Video; "Oma," starring Lynn Cohen; "The Pits"; "Evie's Elements"; "olivia wears a bear hat"; "Liozna"; and "Uncertainty Principle."

His film credits include "Buck Run," "The Trip to Bountiful" with Cicely Tyson and "A Day Late and a Dollar Short" with Whoopi Goldberg. He is the director and cinematographer of the webseries "All Talk," featuring Jason Mewes and Joe Patane, and the reality series "Unique New York," with Nathan Kaufman, which has generated more than a half-million views.

• Jere Hunt, a Huntsville native, has a Bachelor of Fine Arts in dance from Marymount Manhattan College in New York and danced with Rioult Dance NY for 10 years. He currently is with the Huntsville Ballet Company, and has worked on music videos, film and television.

He recently premiered a short dance film, "One Thing is Certain"; choreographed his first musical, "Newsies"; and directed his first musical, "The Light in the Piazza."

• Alex M. Gibson co-owns CinePros, a production company in Alabama, acting as a director and producer. He chairs the Alabama Film Co-op, one of the longest-running film groups in Alabama (since 1970). Its mission is to provide free workshops and seminars for those who want to learn more about filmmaking.

Contact Gadsden Times reporter Donna Thornton at 256-393-3284 or donna.thornton@gadsdentimes.com.

This article originally appeared on The Gadsden Times: Fall Shorts Film Event brings artists, filmmaking news to Gadsden

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