by Mike Corrigan

Want to make a movie? You're in luck, because there has never been a better time to get into filmmaking. All it takes is a modest investment in gear, an eye for composition and an idea. Film students and self-taught amateurs are picking up equipment on the cheap in thrift stores and online. Internet sites catering to the needs of aspiring filmmakers are sprouting like weeds. And motion picture film, as a format, is well supported by an industry that continues to produce miles of the stuff in three different sizes and a dizzying array of formulations. We're not talking video here; we're talking film and filmmaking -- light traveling through optics and striking polymer-backed photochemical emulsions to reproduce the colors, highlights and shadows of existence. Run it all together to create the illusion of motion, and you've created something magical.

Yet once you get that masterwork together, you might want to actually show it to a friend -- or maybe even a whole room full of friends. That's how the Flicker Film Festival began.

Flicker was started in the late '80s by filmmakers Angie Grass and Lance Bangs in Athens, Ga., as an event to showcase their own short films and those made by their peers. Flickers have since sprung up all across the world -- L.A., Prague, Chapel Hill and, most recently, in little old Spokane. Last year, four local filmmakers -- Derrick King, Travis Hiibner, Gary McLeod and Lonny Waddle -- threw the very first Flicker Fest right here, and it was hit. The show sold out, so they're doing it again, this time with two shows at the CenterStage on Oct. 10 at 2 pm and 6 pm.

"The Spokane crowd was amazing," says Hiibner. "We actually had to turn people away."

Flicker is a non-commercial, grassroots entity supported by filmgoers and filmmakers working in small-gauge (super 8 and 16mm) film formats. There are no entry fees, only minor regulations and one golden rule: submissions must originate on film. For the most part, these are high-concept, no-budget projects created by people with a passion for the film arts.

"We started Flicker Spokane to expose people here to a style of filmmaking they may not be familiar with," says McLeod. "And offer underground experimental film a place to be seen in Spokane in the hopes of inspiring would-be filmmakers and creating a community that encourages and supports them."

Intriguing titles from local and national filmmakers scheduled for this years' event include Out of the Ether by Kerry Laitala, The Ramones and I by Rusty Nails and two films -- Extreme Man & amp; Insane Boy and Backyard Barbeque -- by Hollywood animator/filmmaker Webster Colcord. Your hosts will also be showing off their wares with Amniotic (by Waddle) and A Photographic Album From the Life of Sigmund Freud (by King, Hiibner and McLeod). Food and drink will be available as well, making this a full-service art happening.

Expressing yourself in film rather than video can be a painstaking and costly process. But the payoffs, they say, make all the hard work and nail biting worthwhile.

"It can be quite maddening at times," admits Hiibner. "But that process is what filmmaking is all about -- that's what makes it so rewarding. It encompasses the whole spectrum of art and combines it into one powerful medium. And the low-budget, experimental filmmaker is taking film and using it to create something very unique -- something you'll never see in a big Hollywood blockbuster "

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Publication date: 09/16/04

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