It's a lonely old world out there, especially if you're an independent filmmaker in Portland. Though Stumptown may have one of the most active underground film scenes around, it's also known for being debilitatingly fragmented. But it doesn't have to be. This week, local filmmakers and fans alike will reap the benefits of two groups doing their best to transform a scattered bunch of talented individuals into a real community.
The H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival is an annual event started by one very dedicated guy, Andrew Migliore. Its goal is to preserve and popularize the Lovecraft legend; to that end, Migliore shows both old and new films by established filmmakers as well as rank amateurs who have successfully brought the seminal horror writer's elusive spirit to the screen. This year's festival offers some choice Lovecraftian features, including The Resurrected, a 1992 film directed by Dan O'Bannon, in which flashbacks to the 1700s cause some seriously unusual critters to be washed into the river by heavy rains from hundreds of years ago; Dead & Buried, about the dark side of a New England coastal town; The Last Wave, directed by Peter Weir, starring Richard Chamberlain as an Australian lawyer whose attempts to defend five Aboriginal men against a murder charge plunge him irrevocably into a bizarre dream world; and The Crimson Cult, which features Christopher Lee, Boris Karloff, a witch named Lavinia Morley and a creaky old English manor...what more do you need?
(In case you do need more, there will also be music by Amoree Lovell and Cyoakha Grace and guest appearances by noted Lovecraft scholar and author S.T. Joshi, among others.)
Where the "community" part comes in is the festival's annual selection of short films. People live for this thing, whether to see it or to be in it. Almost by accident, Migliore has created not just an annual homage to his hero but a way to bring an otherwise disparate group of filmmakers from all over the world together for a common cause.
Building a sense of community is also one of the driving forces behind another group of local filmmakers, this one an enthusiastic young crowd of actors, directors and crew members who have worked together on a number of locally produced films (including, most recently, Ian and Tyson Smith's Monday Night Gig). To help raise awareness about the local film scene both inside and outside the film community, the folks at Blueprint Films (www.blueprintfilms.com) are throwing a party and inviting anyone and everyone who's interested in making movies. You don't need any experience or a fancy résumé to attend; all you need is a passion for independent filmmaking. The organizers of this event, says Blueprint's Neil Kopplin, are "people who do it because they don't know how not to do it."
The multimedia event, called IndieVOX!, includes both film and live music, and will offer plenty of opportunity for drinking, dancing and, of course, networking. It's also a chance to see what other local filmmakers have been up to. There will be three screens running film loops throughout the party, showing work by Food Chain Films, Hello Video, Sinister Cinema and everyone else who submitted a film to organizers. The main events include the premiere of The Accordion, a 19-minute film directed by Vincent Caldoni in which two strangers meet over a broken accordion in a hotel room, and the premiere of the trailer for renowned filmmaker Nick Lyon's new feature, The City They Fell, filmed in and around Portland.
The hope, Kopplin says, is that events like this will lead to the kind of infrastructure that allows upstart filmmakers, who may be rich in ideas but cash-poor, access to the equipment, crews, financing and distribution they need to get their movies made and seen.
So if you've ever complained about the state of the film community (or lack thereof) in Portland, get yourself to one of these events and help change it.
Hollywood Theatre, 4122 NE Sandy Blvd., 281-4215, www.hplfilmfestival.com. Doors open at 6 pm Friday, 2 pm Saturday-Sunday, Oct. 1-3. $10 Friday, $12 Saturday or Sunday, three-day pass $30.
IndieVOX!8 pm Thursday, Sept. 30 Bossanova Ballroom, 722 E Burnside St., 233-7855.$5 door. 21+.