Colony Film Festival

The community will have the chance to immerse itself in local and national film culture as the Hippodrome/Colony Historical Theatre Association presents its annual Colony Film Festival this weekend.

Festival-goers can enjoy two days of both short and feature-length films while learning about the filmmaking industry, all before awards are given out for “Best of Show,” “Best Student Film” and “Best Local Film.”

Boasting 18 competing local, regional and national films made by filmmakers from Washington County to Los Angeles, the screenings will also take place alongside showcase films made by Marietta College students and several speakers and workshops to pack the weekend with entertainment.

“This festival has always been a nice forum for regional filmmakers. We encourage local participation, and reach out to cities like Columbus, Huntington and Pittsburgh, too,” said Hunt Brawley, developmental director for the Hippodrome/Colony Historical Theatre Association. “I think the real nice aspect of the fest is the ability for them to come network and talk about their craft.”

The festival will include a “Filmmaking 101” workshop that Brawley promises will be a big draw.

“We’re going to be making a film at the festival and showing it in the backspace we have available. They’re going to shoot it right there, talk about angles, camera and lighting, then put it on the projector so people can get a handle on the filmmaking process,” he said. “It should be a lot of fun.”

Andy Hall, a graphic and interactive designer for Stonewall Retail Marketing in Marietta who also has won past Colony Film Festival awards for his own short films, will be one of the workshop instructors.

“It’s going to be really hands-on, right on a film set, so people get a sense of what it’s like to make films,” said Hall, who splits his time between commercial production work and making his own independent short films.

The festival is being held in spring rather than fall this year to minimize conflicting events with Marietta College, which will provide the location for the opening reception and speaker Joe Nanashe, a New York filmmaker.

“It’s the first time we’ve had it in this space at 121 Putnam,” Brawley said. “This is temporary, but it’s a clear, wide-open loft space downtown.”

The festival location is at the Putnam Commons location as the former Colony Theatre, now named the Peoples Bank Theatre, undergoes the last of renovations that have lasted for about a year.

In addition to the workshops, festival-goers can enjoy a large selection of films that vary in genre and in length.

Directed by Tory Nelson, “Ocean” tells a broken love story in just four minutes, while “Seven Deadly Words,” directed by Doc Benson from Huntington, W.Va., tells a story of conflicting parties trying to save a church in financial trouble in an hour and 37 minutes.

Lowell native and Fort Frye High School graduate Aaron Dunbar, 22, wrote, directed and animated the short six-minute film “Gone Beyond” that will be screened at 6:35 p.m. Saturday.

“I guess you could say it’s been one of my most personally introspective videos, and it had me thinking about my place in the world in a number of ways,” Dunbar said.

The film depicts a couple trying to reunite after war tears them apart, which Dunbar just completed in December.

“It’s great to be able to show it locally as well, since about half of it was made while I was here at home,” he said.

Alongside “Ocean” and “Gone Beyond” are eight other films being screened at the festival that are less than 20 minutes long. The remaining range from a half hour to just more than an hour and a half in length.

Brawley said depending on the year, the festival usually sees anywhere from 100 to 150 people throughout the weekend, and the theater association typically receives about 20 to 30 film submissions annually.

Keynote speaker William Wedig, a Marietta-native now living in New York City, will be speaking about his experiences as an award-winning filmmaker at 7 p.m. Saturday.

Wedig has won CFF awards and several other national awards, along with shooting some films in Marietta. His work has also appeared on PBS, MTV and other popular outlets.

“I don’t want to speak so much about industry per say, but more about filmmaking mechanics, and more about what will set your film apart from others on low budget,” Wedig said. “I’ve come from guerrilla filmmaking, and it’s been a learning experience, but there’s always tricks to learn.”

Friday evening, beginning at 6:30, a selection of films made by Marietta College students will be screened.

Just after 11 p.m. Saturday, the three awards will be given out to the competing films, with $500 going to the best of show, and $250 each going to the best local and student films.