It is great to be back in Weyauwega, Wisconsin for a delightful film festival in the middle of nowhere. Of course, the locals won’t like me saying that, but if Wisconsin is a flyover state, this area, for me, has been a no stop drive through part of the state, until, at least, last year.
My first time here last year was year three for the fest. I am so happy to have been invited both years. Kathy Fehl and Ian Teal are filmmakers, artists, promoters, festival directors, writers, producers, and more. You name it they do it.
They renovated the Gerold Opera House on Main street and converted it into a full time arts house, theater, and festival destination place. Ian returned to Wisconsin from NYC with Kathy.
You can read more about them AND listen to my Rex Sikes’ Movie Beat discussion, right here in these blog pages, anytime 24/7. Simply visit the link below or at the official site (link provided at bottom).
They are both dedicated talented, good people. We became friends and have remained in touch over the course of the past year plus some and it has been to my benefit to know them. You should get to know them too!
So I arrived last evening and returned to stay at an incredible placeThe Green Fountain Inn, Bed and Breakfast on Main Street in Waupaca, Wisconsin. They gave me the largest room, because I am going to be there for the duration, which was fine with me. Very comfortable and cozy. I love this place and the people that run it and will sing their praises on future days here and on Facebook. Breakfasted alone, a delicious one, and good coffee was how I started my official day at 8am.
However, I’d been writing and working in my comfy room much of the night. Always up by four, I got much more finished than I expect and that was good. Snow covers the ground though blades of grass still peak through. It is 20 degrees but other places a little more north received as much as 20 inches. Too early a winter but tell that to the Polar Vortex. Sunny morning it is pretty.
Got to the venue early so I took a driving tour of the lakes in the area while speaking to Director Bill Rebane (The Giant Spider Invasion and many more movies) on the phone. So many cool places. I watched a falcon, hover in the air endlessly above the road. Just a flap or two of its wings now and then to keep it in place. I assumed it had targeted something. Whenever I drive near water I open the windows to take in the negative ions and enjoy the relaxing quality of the air.
Got back to the venue and workers had arrived only moments before. I guess I timed that couple hour drive really well. Said hello, caught up with those I’d met last year and took up my blogging station in the back. Because I am near the entrance people stop and say hello.
I had quite the fascinating conversation with a gentleman, Ted, from Chicago. A film lover he comes up here to attend this festival, just because. Yes, it is well worth it.
Small, yes, but well programmed. Plus, it is growing. Kathy and Ian do a wonderful job, around the clock apparently, working for the festival and arts, putting on plays and more through the year. They just completed a sold out run of an original play they both produced and Kathy directed.
So if you want to attend a very good film festival and catch some fascinating features and shorts, narrative, docs and animated, this is a great one to take in. For other offerings at other times please visit their official website.
Situated about a half hour west of Appleton, Wisconsin along Highway 10 this festival is helping put the area on the map as a place to come for quality entertainment and artistic offerings.
It turns out there are a number of films in this years festival that I am in someway, or another, connected with. Whether it’s because I have worked on it, as in ‘Bucky and The Squirrels’ (this comedy feature is the brain child of veteran television writer, director, producer Allan Katz’s and is his feature film directorial debut. He chose to world premiere the movie here this Saturday evening the 15th) or it might be because I happen to personally know some of the filmmakers.
I am looking forward to seeing friends and their films short and long.
Today is Day 1 and it kicked off with documentaries. Last year people traveled from as far away as Japan and Alaska with their films. I saw some really wonderful movies then and met some fascinating filmmakers from all over. Shorts this year starting off are from Bolivia, Japan and the USA. You can check the blog article I mentioned earlier to track the films offered this year.
I will add that the films they program here are worth seeing. They certainly were last year and I expect as much from this years offering. The areas represented by the films are the USA, Bolivia, Iran, Spain, The Russian Federation, Republic of Korea, Taiwan, Egypt, Sweden, France, and Wisconsin. (Okay, I jest, I know WI is part of the USA, still, it is its own world apart).
The selection all over looks good. I must admit I am eager to see the Wisconsin offerings too, either because I know the filmmakers AND/OR because I may want to get to.
Having one foot in LA and the other in Wisconsin always makes my year interesting to say the least. It is wonderful to discover talented people all over, including where one might think it is most unlikely. It isn’t.
I just had another enjoyable conversation with filmmaker Dan Schneidkraut preceding the screening of his documentary feature ‘Old Man’. Currently, Dan lives in Minneapolis. I particularly liked the narration and the cadence.
Back to the venue and the festival offerings.
Besides movie popcorn and candy there is a cash bar. A dollar for water and soda, up to 5 dollars for a top shelf mixed cocktail. There is also wine, beer and local microbrews. Food is available; vegetarian chili and pulled pork sandwiches are available. I just had an incredible fresh chocolate muffin!
You can go next door to the local corner tavern, the gas station across the street, or the cafe and coffee shop straight across the road to. This is downtown Weyauwega and everything you need is just a step or two away.
I will continue the upcoming days on their own pages, probably close to the end of the day or the morning following. WiFi connection was pretty slow where I am staying, Perhaps, it will be faster later today or tomorrow. I might just put in a word tomorrow at breakfast and see if they can help speed it up. Anyway, updates will be forth coming.
Join us if you are anywhere near by. I’m sure you will like it here. Ted drove up from Chicago. He is a film lover. Dan drove in from Minneapolis with his feature. You can make the drive too. Come join us!
All the shorts were well done and fascinating. Some very interesting animation too. Dan Schneidkraut’s movie ‘Old Man’ is quite captivating and even disturbing. Nearly, three hours long it held my interest every moment. Intriguing.
WOW!!! So kind and generous. Been busy at work at the festival and growing very hungry. Suddenly, Jerry who goes by Byrdy, appears with a sandwich he made. He gifted me and boy did I need to be gifted. I was ravenous. THANK YOU BYRDY!!!! That was really cool of you! THANK YOU!!!!
Turns out Kathy is the secret provider of the delicious muffin. Enjoyed some pulled pork as a snack around 7:30 pm
Actor, producer, writer, friend Dan Davies accompanied a secret private screening of an upcoming movie. Turned out it was a fun and fascinating feature. Because it is actually a secret, private screening I can’t say any more about it now, but it looks like it will have some good press in the not to distant future. Hopefully! Both Dan’s in attendance answered audience questions during post screening Q & As.
Most of the photos on the blog are from photographer Larry Peterson. The exceptions is the outdoor poster shot I took with my phone. I don’t know about the one of Kathy and Ian outside the venue.
A great first day and evening. Attendance could be heavier but as the weekend progresses more will be here. All that I met and conversed with were very cool. Filmmakers and fans. It seemed everyone enjoyed themselves and the movies. Afterwards, cocktails and conversations as friends and filmmakers continued to catch up.
I am now back at the delightful Bed and Breakfast. Still have work to do but can do it within the confines of a cozy warm room. I look forward to Day 2 and all the coming days here at the festival. See you tomorrow!
Stay up to date with the live shows on Rex Sikes’ Movie Beat. You can join us and listen live as the show records. You can hang in chat and ask questions. All shows are recorded and archived at the official site.
Updates will be posted at this blog, at the official site, on the RSMB Friends page on FB, through twitter and elsewhere. When you can’t join us live you can still listen to archived show from official site, from blogtalk radio and you can subscribe to the podcast at itunes.
Over 400 hours of professional filmmakers share their expertise and tips and secrets with you. All discussion may be listened to live and archived from the Official Site too! Check the INTERVIEWS