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Open Projector Night offers Anchorage filmmakers unique opportunity (+Video)

Katie Medred
Aaron Jansen illustration

If you've ever engaged in the popular modern pastime of "home movie making" and felt that (given a glass or two of the right spirit) it wasn't half bad, then Out North just may have the event to make your time on Earth that much more fulfilling. On Friday Out North Contemporary Art House will host the Alaska Film Forum's 7th quarterly Open Projector Night (OPN), where filmmakers will share their vision with a room full of accepting strangers.

The event breaks down like this: Film contributors bring a short clip or movie extract -- less than 15 minutes long -- to Out North at 6:30 p.m. on Friday. At approximately 8 p.m., films will begin to be shown simultaneously in Out North's theater space and gallery in the order they were presented by contributors. Event goers pay an admission fee of $5, and popcorn, wine and beer will be available.

OPN runs on a first-come, first-show basis, with no preliminary screenings, no restrictions and no questions asked; if you present it, it plays in the machine, and there's time to show it, it will be done.

In a 2011 interview with the founding members of the AFF, filmmaker and Anchorage film enthusiast Dave Turnbull explains OPN as "basically an open mic night for filmmakers."

Turnbull, along with Beth Varner, Paul Jones and Bryant Mainord helped form AFF some two years ago. Now the forum has taken on a life of its own, just as its creators had intended.

The Alaska Film Forum was born after local filmmakers were invigorated by buzz generated during the 24-hour Film Competition at Anchorage's 2010 International Film Festival (AFF), in which writers and filmmakers were given just a full day to write, cast and film a short movie that would screened at the Bear Tooth Theaterpub. The success of that event lead a tight-knit committed group of local artists to create an organization that would fuel creative film collaboration within the local community. 

From AFF's early design came the first OPN event, where filmmakers submitted shorts and relished their 15 minutes of fame amongst an audience of like-minded peers. According to Josh Lowman, who joined the AFF board back in Sept. 2011, the first OPN saw a modest audience of 100 or so people who watched the premier of 10 to 15 films.

The event, first held at Out North on Jan. 22, 2010, has since branched out to other venues, including Steve's Sports Bar and the Bear Tooth Theater Pub. Lowman said that since those early days, OPNs have been steadily growing in size and have even reached a point of turning filmmakers away due to filling the "first-come, first-served" quota.

In the video below Turnbull says, "There seems to be a lot of excitement, a lot of people working on movies just for the Open Projector Night, which was always kind of the hope, which was giving people a forum to show something would give them an excuse to get out and make something."

Still feeling shy about attending or presenting work? Lowman says "with us you just show up" submit a disk and enjoy your hard work, because supporting emerging media artists is just "one of the reasons OPN exists."

Side note: Although OPN has been known to show work submitted on camera phone and other digital copy, they prefer CDs (specifically DVD and BluRay media) over digital, as it is not always reliable and occasionally unscreenable.

Like to know more about AFF or the origin of OPN, check out the video below. Need to know more about Friday's OPN event? Check the Facebook event page here or Out North's calendar here.

 

Open Projector Night 4 from Tri-Seven Pictures on Vimeo.

Contact Katie Medred at katie(at)alaskadispatch.com.