Film Society Launches UT’s First Black Box Film Festival

Sam Eckhardt / Special to The Minaret
Sam Eckhardt / Special to The Minaret

The future of independent film is as uncertain as the chances of rain in Florida.
Yet Professor Tom Garrett kicked off the First Black Box Film Festival with his presentation about the future of independent film.
A crowd of 80 people attended the event. Garrett talked about the heydays of independent film and renowned directors such as Spike Lee and Jim Jarmusch, as well as legendary producer Ted Hope.
He depicted the genre’s development by explaining to his audience about the problems independent filmmakers face today– the biggest one being a battle for funds.
Since the ‘90s and after surviving Y2K, independent film has been facing hard times.
Nevertheless, the future is unwritten, as punk legend Joe Strummer said.

Garrett concluded his presentation suggesting that independent film is what independent filmmakers make out of it.
At 7 p.m., the Black Box Film Festival presented Logan and Noah Miller, 32-year-old twins who had made a promise to their father who died in a jail cell that they would make a film about their youth and dreams of becoming baseball players.

When their father asked who would play him, they told him right away that it must be someone at least as good looking as Ed Harris.
What seemed like a far-fetched dream turned into the 108 minute feature film “Touching Home”–a story about the twins growing up with their alcoholic father and their dream that never came true.
The two brothers wrote, directed and produced the film, which included a crew of 26 award winners.
After the screening, the audience participated with the enthusiastic brothers during a Q&A session.
On Friday, Lindsay Guthrie, Guy Balson, Jeanne Corcoran and Representative Michelle Rehwinkel Vasilinda held a caucus on the topic of Florida and its current position on its shooting locations.
While the state of Florida pays up to 22 percent of a crew’s expenditure in cash (instead of giving a tax rebate), other states like Michigan offer a 42 percent tax rebate.
Film is a business like any other, which leads quite a few crews to shoot in states like Michigan.

However, in order to capitalize on the rebate, they then must sell their tax rebate to a company that owes taxes to the state of Michigan.
Nevertheless, Miami is still a popular city for films, since it’s world-renowned, and its night life so accommodating.
When the TV series “Miami Vice” was shot throughout the mid- to late-’80s, the city drew tourists from all over the world.
During that time, the city didn’t have to spend much money for tourism advertisement, which explains why Los Angeles doesn’t advertise at all.
UT’s film festival continued Saturday at 1 p.m. with the Extreme Stunt Team in Reeves and in front of the John H. Sykes College of Business.
Students were surprised by the quality of the film that was shown and the amount of stunts that the team was able to pull off.
The footage depicted professional stunt men hanging from helicopters and in burning cars.
The team also showed of some of their equipment, such as a high-speed camera cars and a Bronco cam.
At 4 p.m., author Reed Martin spoke about the research he had conducted for his first book, “The Reel Truth.”
After seven years of interviewing several people and writing his own script he had collected an abundance of material that he was ready to share with the audience.
He mainly showed pictures of his research while narrating, making the event a pleasure for eyes and ears.
Like Garrett, Martin said that independent film is experiencing a hard time, yet things will get better.
The festival’s last event was the 80-minute screening of student films representing many different genres, like “813 A,” a dark suspense movie, and “The Source.”
The latter was also the audience’s pick, for which director Josh Long received the audience award during an after-party at The Cork.

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