BY ANNA JENSEN
Iowa Public TV (IPTV) is joining forces with Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs to present “The Film Lounge” showcase, 13 short-films made by Iowa artists and filmmakers, which will take place on Feb 12 and 19 on IPTV and IPTV WORLD.
“The collection of short films represent a wide range of artistic visions and forms, documentary, experimental, narrative, animation,” said Jeff Morgan, spokesperson for the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs in an email. “The program explores film as an art form, highlights Iowa’s vibrant film communities and recognizes filmmaking for its contributions to the economic and cultural vitality of Iowa.”
Three of these short-films were produced by filmmakers from the Des Moines area.
Creative filmmaker Bruce Bales partnered up with songwriter Christopher Ford, better known as Christopher the Conquered. They collaborated on his music videos for his album last year, which they then submitted to “The Film Lounge.”
The song, “Everybody Rains” focuses on the idea of emotion and the music video uses a puppet to personify the act of crying.
“This video is really unique in the fact that this puppet actually rains water on people and it’s very theatrical,” Bales said. “It takes place in a very linear fashion because you are watching two minutes of this character’s life unfold before you.”
Bales finds filmmaking to be a combination of many different forms that are all interconnected when the piece is finished.
“On any given day, a filmmaker is engaging with at least four different art forms, whether it be photography or drawing or theatre or singing or dancing or performance art,” Bales said. “Being a filmmaker satisfies my creative need.”
Bales began creating videos as a teenager. Now, he works as the director of photography and an editor and producer for arts and entertainment company DEFT, as well as the media manager for Reed’s Hollow.
“I fell in love with the idea of being able to say something within the constraints of a frame,” Bales said. “That is ultimately what drew me to filmmaking as a form of artistry and communication.”
While “The Film Lounge” was made to expose Iowa artists to the community, it also hopes to capture the story of Iowa through a creative lens.
Many filmmakers looking for a creative scene travel to east coast cities. For instance, there are thousands of opportunities for filmmakers in L.A., but that takes away from the challenge of filmmaking, according to Bales.
“The challenge as an Iowa artist is having to make your own opportunities,” Bales said. “We don’t have the luxuries and resources or the sheer amount of people it takes to be successful creative filmmaker (in Iowa). The challenge in Iowa is to find your collaborators.”
Filmmaker Paul Berge finds writing, filmmaking and creating to be a lifestyle. He said he won’t stop as long as it’s fun — he’s 63 and still finds the medium fascinating.
He submitted his film, “The Waiting Room” to “The Film Lounge.”
“My film has a pretty simple plot,” Berge said.
Essentially, three characters are in a waiting room and it is up to the audience to figure out why they are there.
“It doesn’t hand you the ending,” Berge said. “Each person at the table has a very specific personality and approach to the waiting process. Is this story about life? Is it about death? That’s what we want the audience to play around with when they see it.”
Berge wrote this play 20 years ago for a radio production he was involved in. It was adapted for film this past year.
Besides writing and producing, Berge has also worked as an actor.
“A lot of the time actors are sitting around waiting to be told what to do,” Berge said. “I took advantage of that time by going up to the crew, such as the sound man and saying, ‘How do you do that?’ or ‘What are you listening for?’ That’s how to get ahead in this world.”
Berge shared that he has felt pretty vulnerable handing his work out to the world to be critiqued, but there is always the chance that it will get a positive review and impact his career.
“I have always been writing. Even if my stories aren’t being produced, I’m still creating,” Berge said. “Life has to be creative. If it’s not, what’s the point?”
The flim, “Catuca,” by Kristian Day will be showcased in “The Film Lounge.”
“This video was made because my friend and I were just hanging out,” Day said.
Day’s friend Patrick called him up and told him he was in drag and had a bird on his shoulder. The video is of Patrick screeching and doing bird type movements.
The film is named “Catuca” because that is a type of bird.
Day made the film in 2009, and submitted it to festivals. It played in Italy, Greece, Austria and Cuba before its debut in the US.
“Having a film like this getting any type of life is so interesting to me,” Day said.
He had no intention of this film becoming anymore than a video he made for fun.
Now Day is more into documentary film and storytelling. He made a film about farmers during the prohibition and is now teaching children how to edit and create video.
Day is starting an art residency with Art Force Iowa this month.
“I’m helping (refugee children) make their own films but then I’m documenting the process myself,” Day said. “I could be this self-indulgent artist or I could partake in creating something deeper. We need to remind ourselves how culturally diverse we are I want to use my art to do good in this world.”
Day enjoys working in Iowa because, when he is not filmmaking, there are a lot of creative mediums he can partake in that act as a refresher.
“Creating is all I really do anymore — it’s a lifestyle,” Day said. “Seeing my final project always grounds me and reminds me that I love what I am doing.”
On Feb. 8 at Fleur Cinema in Des Moines, there will be a free watch party, where some of the films will be shown in advance of the full episodes’ premiere on IPTV.