This was my first deadCenter experience and being that I was fortunate to have worked on the film that won Best Oklahoma Short, I would definitely say it was a special moment. At first, I was overwhelmed by the scope of it, so many filmmakers and so much passion for storytelling. I wanted to take it all in to see what this film festival was all about and experience things outside of my comfort zone. The programming of a festival sets the vibe for the whole weekend and the deadCenter staff did an amazing job packing out the week with a great spread of fun, creative, weird, local, international films and everything in between.
Freestyle partnered with three films that were in the festival, and I was personally involved in the production of Grey Matter, which also premiered at deadCenter. I have to say, it feels amazing to be so deeply immersed in our film community. I would love to see Freestyle continue to partner with passionate filmmakers who are equally as invested in making the Oklahoma community the best possible place to be a filmmaker.
Apart from the film screenings, we also attended several panels. The highlight for me was a production workshop that featured a key grip, gaffer, sound mixer, and director of photography. The gaffer, Steve Mathis, definitely stood out as he had worked in a high level role on sets such as Moulin Rouge, Thor: Ragnarok, and Black Panther. It was amazing to hear about his technical experience on massive-scale sets and to think about how to apply some of the awesome aspects of a larger scale movie set to our commercial sets.
The four days I spent at deadCenter left me equal parts exhausted, motivated, and proud to be an Okie and a filmmaker.
- Winning Best Oklahoma Short for Grey Matter.
- Getting to spend time with our team outside of the office.
- Seeing all the work that is coming out of Oklahoma.
Will’s Must-See Picks:
- Grey Matter – A 22 minute documentary exploring the lives of incarcerated women in Oklahoma. Oklahoma incarcerates more women per capita than anywhere in the country and has some of the highest rates in the world.
- Jurassic Games – A feature length film out of Oklahoma. It was a fun experience being at the world premiere.
- Netflix & Chill – A horror/comedy short that was just silly, fun, and had a solid twist.
- Forget-Me-Not – A sweet story about a young girl finding her place in the world and the mentor that helped her come into her own.
Every year I refer to deadCenter film festival as “Movie Christmas.” It is my favorite weekend in the city. There is no better time or place to party with the local film industry and catch up on all of their latest work. Plus, the deadCenter programmers bring an abundance of national and international work to our theaters that you might not discover otherwise.
The premiere setting that deadCenter can create for our local talent is so special. Every theater I sat in had groups of friends clapping and pointing at their names on the big screen. Each Q&A session and filmmaker panel brought forth mentions of the growing film industry in Oklahoma; and each packed house or overflowing after-party was evidence that this growth is happening. DeadCenter, in its 18th year, has helped solidify Oklahoma as a quality destination for filmmakers to share their work, as well as discover the unexpected variety of locations that our centralized state provides for filmmaking.
If you are trying to get more involved with this community, or just witness the artistic endeavors your fellow Okies pursue, then don’t sleep on this festival next year. We cannot take for granted that we have such a stellar film platform in Oklahoma City, and it’s only getting better.
- Reconnecting with past crew mates and co-stars that I’ve worked with.
- Meeting new filmmakers to work with in the future.
- The buffet at the Saturday night party in the Myriad Gardens.
- Some local documentary always squeezing every tear out of my soul (Grey Matter, I’m still upset).
Josh’s Must-See Picks:
This year was my first experience at deadCenter and I was blown away by how connected everyone was. I was a little overwhelmed and felt a little out of place at first, as I had never worked on feature films or even very many short films outside of student projects in college. This feeling quickly changed as I met filmmakers from all around the country. Each new person I spoke with had an exciting story to tell, and most of them had the privilege of telling it through a short story or feature film of their own.
As the days went on, I began feeling more inspired by the people around me. Everyone I spoke with this weekend was so deeply invested in elevating the film community in Oklahoma and challenging the status quo. When people think of filmmakers, Oklahoma isn’t usually the first thought, but I was proud as an Okie myself to see so many incredible filmmakers producing fantastic work. At deadCenter, I saw Oklahoma step up to the challenge of becoming a major community for filmmaking around the world. This is a community I’m proud to become a part of.
- Getting to know our team outside the office.
- Listening to, and talking with, the awesome panelists, especially from the documentary filmmakers panel and the producers of Oklahoma panel.
Tori’s Must-See Picks:
- Grey Matter – A documentary exploring a women’s writing cohort in Oklahoma’s maximum-security women’s prison. This is a great commentary on incarceration rates and calls for tremendous and immediate change. Very well done.
- Gridlock – A thriller set during a traffic jam on a country road. When a little girl goes missing from one of the cars, her father forms a desperate search party to find her, and soon everyone is a suspect. It’ll keep your heart racing and have you wondering what’s going to happen next.
- Winston – A man is driven mad by his obsession and paranoia. This animated short gets inside a mind that very few people could understand.
- Mama – A short documentary about a woman’s dedication to serving the children of her village in Uganda. Fantastic storytelling, beautifully shot.
- Felix – A biopic about the longest-running radio broadcaster.
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