What's up with Southern Shorts in October?

Next month, filmmakers, directors, writers, and talented Athenians will be walking the red carpet at the Southern Shorts Film Festival. Crazy thought? Not at all.

Earlier this year, Alabama passed film incentives that will encourage and compete for independent film production in our state. After doing a little research, it became clear that North Alabama, particularly Limestone County, was not represented on statewide film websites and marketing materials. Well, we are about to change that. Look around and picture your surroundings through a camera lens. Can't you see it now? Our historical downtown the backdrop of a major film? It could happen. In Limestone County, you also have the farmlands, the rivers and other unique southern towns. Can you imagine the economic impact to our community?

Late spring, I was encouraged to meet with Alissa Rose-Clark, a talented artist, photographer and visionary. Alissa talked about the art of film and her interest in hosting a "short film" festival in Athens. Although I saw the impact and importance of marketing our “hidden gem,” I didn’t have the technical expertise to make it happen. So what did we do? We talked, we met, and we dreamed. Now a month out, we are ready to put on our “big girl shorts” and jump in with both feet. Don’t think this is a two-woman show though...it’s far from it. The Southern Shorts Film Festival is part of Art on the Square with Spirit of Athens mainly focusing on organizing the Premiere Party to be held at the Clubhouse October 16. The festival will be at McCandless Hall at Athens State University on October 17.

Diane Lehr, media guru, AOTS Board member and SOA Organization committee member, is tracking the festival and party details. She’s a “sweet” task-master and is doing an excellent job keeping us focused and assigning duties. A Festival Planning committee comprised of interested volunteers, SOA Organization members, and AOTS board members are pounding the pavement, marketing the event, selling tickets, ordering food, etc. At the end of the day, “when the red carpet is rolled up,” proceeds will be split between the two organizations. SOA to continue their downtown revitalization efforts, and AOTS to continue offering art experiences in the community.

What’s next? After the October 1 deadline, local film experts will judge the applications. Winners will be selected from a youth and adult category. Entries can be made in the “Secret Athens” theme or open category. Entries must be under 15 minutes and the grand prize winner will receive $500, additional cash prizes will be awarded to the runners-up.

On October 16, the public is invited to attend a Premiere Party at the Clubhouse. The theme is “all things Southern.” Complimentary food-including your local favorites, and beverages will be available. Those attending will be able to watch the winning films and rub elbows with those behind the camera. Tickets purchased before October 1 will be $25. After October 1, tickets will be $35 each or $60 for guest plus one. Seats are limited.

The next day, selected film submissions will be shown in the historic McCandless Hall from Noon - 10 pm. A synopsis and film descriptions will be available prior to the event. All day tickets are $8.

Anyone can enter a film, so bust out the camcorder and start filming.

For more information, visit the Art on the Square website at www.aots-athens.com. Southern Shorts Film Festival information can also be found on Facebook, Twitter, and blog.

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