MASON CITY, Iowa - Lights, camera, action!
This weekend, independent filmmakers are showcasing their works of cinematic magic to audiences in Mason City and Clear Lake as part of the Iowa Independent Film Festival. In its 12 year history, the festival has showcased short films, documentaries, and full-length features from creators in the U.S., and across the world.
Manly's Kevin Isaacson, who leads I Like Ike Films, is showcasing his film titled 'Run.'
"It's exciting to see everybody come in and recognize not only the local talent, but to see films from all over the world here."
He's a regular attendee at the festival, though this year is the first time one of his films is aired to audiences. He's in awe of what these producers can do without the big budgets of Hollywood film studios.
"These guys are working off of low budgets. They're not the Marvel blockbuster films. A lot of their money comes out of their own pocket to do these, but the thing is, these independent filmmakers are great story tellers."
The festival is not only helpful for the economy and tourism, but also for those looking to expand their careers.
"these festivals are an excellent opportunity to get out and network and meet other filmmakers and see what everybody else is doing. A lot of filmmaking and being successful in films and the entertainment industry is networking. Pooling resources. These resources are an excellent opportunity to do it."
With more filmmakers and studios coming to Iowa for events like the festival, as well as locations for filming, it makes sense.
"There's a lot of beautiful locations in Iowa, the people here are gracious for those locations. You can get them for free or little or next to nothing. You just can't do that in LA or the bigger film markets."
Before Thursday's kickoff with a local film event, Festival Board of Directors President Craig Binnebose is rigging up audio and video equipment. He's seen some interesting films that were submitted over the years.
"One of the funniest ones we ever had came from Iran. It was 4 minutes long about a goldfish. They had trouble with their water...it was funnier than heck. And there wasn't even a word said in it. And people would fall over laughing, it was so funny."
He believes 'Iowa nice' is why more people are turning towards the Hawkeye State to be put on the silver screen.
"We worked with the Stebens Theatre and helped some kids do some videos. One of those girls is now in Chicago at a film school pursuing a film career because we loaned them equipment, and just helped them."
Movies will be featured at the Mason City Public Library, Community Theatre, and at the Lake Theatre in Clear Lake. Tickets are still available at the door; $20 for a one-day ticket (good for all venues), and $30 for two days. Students are half off. For a full listing of movies being showcased, click here.