It’s happening everywhere in Champaign-Urbana, and you may not even know it. At the grocery store, in shops on Main Street, and in private homes, people are filming movies. In fact, local filmmakers shot more than a dozen feature films and anywhere from 25 to 50 short films here since 2005. And like the two sides to every coin, there are two sides to every successful film: the filmmakers and the cinephiles who enjoy watching the films. But until now, no local organization brought them all together.
In September, Luke Boyce and Brett Hays, owners of Shatterglass Studios in Champaign, launched the CU Film Society. Their vision for the group is to bring together film lovers, filmmakers, and anyone interested in learning about or participating in the filmmaking process. Boyce noted that, because film is “a combination of visual art and audio [and] literature and philosophy, it’s very easy for it to be a very vocal, social art form.”
The CU Film Society plans to conduct two types of events to start: workshops conducted by industry experts to train filmmakers and film screenings and discussions.
Boyce and Hays modeled the society after the film societies in large cities, particularly the Austin Film Society begun by filmmaker Richard Linklater in the 1980s (director of movies including A Scanner Darkly, The School of Rock, and the ’90s stoner flick, Dazed and Confused). Boyce said because Linklater’s film society fostered not only the love of films but filmmaking, it “paved the way for Austin, Texas to become … the independent film capitol of the United States.”
Already, the CU Film Society’s calendar of events in the next month is full, with two upcoming filmmaker workshop events and two classic movie screenings and discussions.
The first event in the Art Theater Discussion Series, a screening of Hitchcock’s Psycho, is Saturday, October 22, at noon at the CU Art Theater, and the society will hold a discussion afterward next door at Destihl Restaurant & Brew Works. The following week on October 29, the group will view and discuss Frankenstein at the same time and locations. The Art Theater Discussion Series is produced in conjunction with Sanford Hess, proprietor of the CU Art Theater.
If your interest lies more on the filmmaking side, join Academy Award winning filmmaker Chris Landreth at 2 p.m. on October 30 for a Filmmaking Roundtable at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (Room 1040). Then, on November 12, Scott Regan, photographer, will present a three-hour workshop on DSLR Camera and Video Fundamentals. Pre-registration is required for this event.
Some people in this burgeoning subculture of local filmmakers have already been meeting and networking every month since 2008 with the Champaign Movie Makers (CMM) group. Thomas Nichol, currently managing CMM, said the group plans to collaborate closely with CU Film Society: “CMM will [continue to] focus on fostering community and providing opportunities for local filmmakers to network.”
CU Film Society annual membership fees for early adopters are $15 for individuals, $30 for families, and $100 for corporations, and these fees give you discounts or free admission to filmmaking workshops and special events.
CMM charges no fee to participate. Founder and local filmmaker Johnny Robinson said that since the emphasis is to help locals make films, the group encourages local theater groups, production studios, and anyone else who might want to be involved in a film to “consider [Champaign Movie Makers] their own.”
The CU Art Theater is located at 126 W. Church St. in Champaign.
Destihl Restaurant & Brew Works is located at 301 N. Neil Street in Champaign.
NCSA is located at 1205 W Clark St. in Urbana. The filmmaker roundtable will be in Room 1040.