Sundial Film Festival viewing Saturday:

The Third annual Sundial Film Fesival will be held at the historic Cascade Theater in downtown Redding this Saturday.  I had the pleasure of spending time with three of the very talented filmmakers.  You can also view the version of the story here in the Record Searachlight and here in the Anderson Valley Post.

Jefferson Thomas, winner of Best Animation for "Rathale"

Inspiration for north state film makers is as distinct as the films they created for the third annual Sundial Film Festival. Creative ideas range from a toy snake; a 1929 Disney classic to a friend leaving the gas stove on.

It’s too early to say if changing the cities name to “Reddingwood” is a bit premature  given the areas visual talent, it is realistic to believe that film production could be a viable industry in a weak economy.

“The original objective of the event was to foster film and photography interest among our youth and this year is definite evidence of the festivals success, with large increases in both photography and film entries from our local schools and college level students.”said Mark Lascelles, Chairman of the Sundial Film Festival Organizing Committee.

For Palo Cedro resident Jefferson Thomas, winner of Best Animation for “Rathle”, his inspiration was generated by an animated conversation with his godson Nicholas Giedt while he played with a rubber snake purchased at Turtle Bay.

“It was truly a labor of love. It started out as a fun conversation and developed from there.” said Thomas of the 1 ½ year long production.

This was not unchartered territory for Thomas who is Art Director and Flash Animator at Jefferson Thomas Creative the company he owns and offers clients creative animation and interactive media solutions.

A graduate from Cal Arts in experimental animation he worked as an animation assistant for Colossal Pictures.  His interest in “stop motion” rewarded him with an internship at Skellington Productions the company that created Tim Burton’s Nightmare before Christmas.

“One of my goals is to find local opportunities  to teach the next generation of animators.” noted Thomas.

Ben Keeline is surrounded by his advance graphic design students.

The laughter was infectious as you walked into the darkened modular classroom.  Brightly colored, animated student names rolled up and down the computer monitors painting smiling faces.

Teaching the graphics design program at Cottonwood Creek Charter School has been Ben Keeline’s passion.  A native of Palo Cedro he has been teaching for fifteen years after obtaining his film degree from the University of Southern California.

Keeline and his first year students produced the animated film “Skeleton Dance” inspired by the 1929 Disney short Silly Symphony which he studied at USC.

“I felt it would be a good transition for students to first understand movement and storytelling. With future projects we will move on to characters with expression and finally dialog.”

The learning curve was fast for the students taking three months to produce the short film. The students learned the 3D figure design and animation software created by Poser.

“I credit Principal Mark Boyle with obtaining the software and seeing the educational value in the program. You never know how it may open avenues in the future for the students.” noted Keeline.

“I’m the computer person in the house. I worked on the coyote, rooster and dog in the film.” said a grinning Donald Leedy, 13, of Cottonwood.

Rayleen Quinonez, 14 of Cottonwood said “The things we learned by making the film were,  knowing your tools; sketching out the story frame-by-frame; having confidence and knowing that you can finish… ohh ya and patience.”

Filmmaker, Jeff Loveness”tumblr” profile reads; “Jeff is a comedy writer, director and actor of arguable quality.”  As a youngster growing up in Montgomery Creek, Jeff and his brother Clint who is now working as a filmmaker in Texas honed their craft at the early ages of five with backyard remakes of James Bond action adventures and Jurassic Park.

Jeff Loveness, actor and filmmaker druring a break on the hit television show "The Office".

The polite, soft spoken Loveness graduated a semester early this month from Pepperdine University and spoke during a phone interview about his film “Contact” which follows the challenges of a disheartened young man trying to commit suicide. 

“If I had any advice for a young film maker it’s to use the internet. Make the best short quality video possible and get it on line.”

Loveness was inspired to make the film after talking to a friend who had accidently left the gas flowing on the kitchen stove. He was drawn to the idea of how to visit a serious, somber subject as suicide in a humorous and respectful way.

“I feel very good about the movie and I’ve been overwhelmed by viewers on the internet reaching out and saying how it has helped them deal with the issue.  I didn’t want the film to be offending in any way. I respond to comedy, using it as a vehicle to plunge into darker material.” he said.

Loveness now plans to start making the rounds in Los Angeles looking for new acting rolls, adding to his resume.  Still finding it difficult to believe this past year he had speaking part in season seven, episode seven, titled Christening, of the hit show “The Office”.

“This will be the best group of films we have had the pleasure of showing. We have more variety this year with a growing participation from our schools. Our local professional photographers and film makers continue to support this event by entering excellent work. We look forward to seeing more exciting projects, as our local students leave and go on to professional film and photography careers taking them to many corners of the globe.” said Lascelles.

There were twenty-six movies reviewed by the LA Film Study Center who determined the festival winners The Sundial Film Festival viewing schedule held at Redding’s Cascade Theater is split between afternoon and evening sessions Saturday, March 19th starting at 1p.m. Tickets can be purchased for $11.50 and available at the theater.