Attracting local and international filmmakers to showcase their work, organizer and sound editor Jayson Valencia mounted this year's filmfest in various locations. His own far East County outdoor theater, Flight Test Ranch, blanketed by stars and littered with unmatching seating served as the artsy and magical heart of the festivities.
"We needed a new group of filmmakers to show their films to a live audience and get a reaction," said Valencia, a Discovery Bay resident. "We are also promoting Brentwood as a travel destination and as a creative community. The concluding Arts and Jazz festival complements our conviction to the arts."
A free viewing of several short animation films such as "Puppets" and "Handshake" by Patrick Smith was held last Sept. 5. In the last weekend of September, the fest showcased "Peace" by Mike Doto, "I'll Meet You in Your Womb" by Jordan Livington, and "Retaliation" - essaying the true reason behind the coalition forces' invasion of Iraq and why the terrorists are there to oppose them - by Carl Miller, of renowned Industrial Light and Magic. Miller broke into the business as a camera assistant in 1989 for "Back to the Future 2" and climbed the ranks as Visual Effects Director of photography for "Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith" in 2005 and "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest" in 2006.
Last Friday, Miller was at hand, along with his cast and their families, to answer the audience's questions after the viewing.
"It's all worth it!" said the one-man team Valencia, who prepared the outdoor setup, seating and organic food buffet of potato salad, sun-dried tomatoes and ricotta, and Thai noodles, after the shows. "Appreciating film fests is an acquired taste. But it is always interesting to watch something different. There were many challenges, like getting the word out and getting people to come. But I will definitely do it again next year."
And to local budding filmmakers, Valencia says, "Reinforce your creativity and get your bearings by checking out festivals like this. Don't be afraid to make something good."