VIFF! Kicks Off With a Tribute to Indie Filmmaker Ted V. Mikels

Published On November 23, 2011 | By admin | Blog Post, Film Festival, Independent Film

With the Thanksgiving holiday happening this week I thought about some of the changes that have taken place since this time last year and my mind wandered back to Wednesday, November 16th when VIFF! kicked off at Theatre7 in the downtown arts district with a wonderful tribute to indie filmmaking legend Ted V. Mikels, who had the distinction of being the first Las Vegas to have his hands immortalized in concrete.  Filmmakers and indie movie lovers came to the gathering to see Mikels honored and enjoy catching up with old friends while celebrating the start of another successful event being launched by Theatre7 founder Derek Stonebarger and his partner Chad Clinton Freeman.  It struck me that night that since last winter when the arthouse opened its doors the location, which I have been known to call “the clubhouse” when John Donovan and I tape our podcasts there, it has united so much of the Las Vegas filmmaking community while at the same time extending a warm welcome to those visiting our city.  Relationships have been forged and explored resulting in new projects and a dynamic way for people to become better acquainted.  The venue has served traveling festivals originating in other parts of the country like Cinekink, helped foster local favorites such as Freeman’s PollyGrind, and developed new events like the upcoming Films That Feed Festival.  Theatre7 has also incorporated other forms of entertainment like The Will Edwards Show and the original interactive play ‘OSCAR: A Good Man’ that debuted last spring.

Maybe that’s why it was such a pleasure to join in the festivities last week and enjoy catching up with filmmakers like Kelly Schwarze (Thor at the Bus Stop), Sean Jackson (Bubblegum & Broken Fingers) and Michael Su (The Adventures of Loop & Rhett) and making new friends with Maine filmmakers Dana Packard and Jennifer Nichole Porter the director and writer/actress of the opening feature film “40 West”.   There was free food and drink outside on the sidewalk where buffet tables had been set up near the step and repeat and red carpet where Mikels was immortalized.  We also spilled out into the street conversing, snacking and just taking the evening in.  In addition, we were treated to the world premiere screening of the trailer from Ted’s latest feature “Astro Zombies: M4 – Invaders from Cyberspace”, which is now in post-production .  Smiles, laughter and genuine respect for this amazing filmmaker’s work were evident, plus it was fun to see humans being trapped in fresh zombie hell on screen.  Ted doesn’t believe in short trailers where the audience isn’t sure what the purpose of the film is, so watching this one offered a detailed inside view of what viewers can expect and it was delightful.  

I also think that Derek has hit on what could be an unique type holiday or birthday gift for filmmakers.  As I watched Mikels having his hands immersed in the small portable container of concrete and then write his name above it a thought donned on me.  How wonderful it would be to package this concept with a kit that would include a tub, cement, gunk spray (so the hands can be removed after being pressed in concrete), a small piece of red carpet and a step and repeat.  The name of the filmmaker or the person’s production company and films could be written on the backdrop.  Add creative packaging and an affordable price tag and you could purchase the “Immortalize Your Favorite Filmmaker in Cement Kit” for that special person on your gift giving list.  While you’re thinking about the merits of giving or receiving such a present, I’d like to thank Derek and Chad for opening up Theatre7 here in Las Vegas and the amazing opportunity it has given us to build such a close knit and supportive filmmaking community.  Welcome to the neighborhood!

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