The boom in technology has given ordinary people like you and me the opportunity to be our own filmmakers.
In some cases the results are extraordinary. Last year's best movie, at least in my opinion, is Once. It took a week to make and cost practically nothing.
A few years ago The Station Agent topped my list and is the same kind of film.
Movies are so easy to make these days for anyone. And while most, like those you see on YouTube, are self-serving and boring to anyone not involved in the lives of those making the "movie," some are very, very good. That's the buzz on The Competition.
Those I know who have seen this Tri-Cities-produced film, or parts of it, are very impressed. It is unique in many ways but not so unique in others.
I worked with the producers and their PR people for a couple of weeks to try to find a way to be able to screen The Competition before the free showings at Fairchild Cinemas on Tuesday and Wednesday. They couldn't get an edited version of the movie done for me to screen in time to make last Friday's column and business obligations mean I can't make their Tri-Cities screening on Monday. And to review it next week would be too late anyway.
This is a huge disappointment for me because I am fascinated by what this exceptional group of people has accomplished. The film is written, produced, directed, filmed and edited by high school kids from the Tri-Cities. They worked with mentors in the video production business, with teachers, parents, and others to get the job done.
What will blow your mind is the caliber of talent living in your community. When I used to do a lot of TV production (commercials for the uninitiated) and did Mr. Movie for KVEW-TV, I met and worked with a lot of very talented individuals. Some have gone on to work in major markets and into working on major motion pictures.
Last fall, I spent an hour talking with Travis Senger. He's a Tri-City native now living in Seattle. Senger and his partner, and also a Tri-City native, Michael Mouncer, have written and are producing The Sidewalk Never Ends. The movie is about street kids and street society in Seattle.
Travis is excited about this project and, at the time, was still working on funding. His excitement is infectious. Such enthusiasm and so much talent. What struck me most in the hour or so I was with Travis is his keen intelligence. He's educated, well-read, has a great understanding of human nature for someone so young, and his writing skills -- from what I could see from the film's trailer and from talking with him -- are superb.
I was also honored to learn Senger and Mouncer, whom I have also talked with, were fans of my column growing up.
Another movie about the Tri-Cities and the Columbia Basin will open in Tri-Cities at Carmike in February. Some of you caught Arid Lands when it showed at the Battelle Auditorium last year. It is a fascinating look at where you live and how it got to be the way it is today.
As most of you know, I am a Tri-City native and have lived in Tri-Cities off and on for most of my life. One of the interviews for Arid Lands was done in the home owned by my great grandparents. Talk about bringing back memories.
Just as many memories were brought back to me when talking about The Competition. I spent many hours of my life from 1989 to 2000 working in television production and on documentaries and other video projects. I miss that part of my life deeply and am green with envy when I hear of a project such as The Competition and the fun that everyone had putting it together.
I wish the producers of The Competition the best as they move their film into a different type of competition -- film festivals. That's why they're not charging you to see the movie at Fairchild Cinemas, at least those of you lucky enough to grab a free ticket. They can't charge to keep the film eligible.
You will be hearing more about this project in the future.