Clifton Film Festival Returns Saturday

Clifton Film Festival Returns Saturday

The crowd takes its place Saturday evening at the Clifton Film Fest on the lawn of Workhouse Arts Center in Lorton.

The crowd takes its place Saturday evening at the Clifton Film Fest on the lawn of Workhouse Arts Center in Lorton. Photo by Steve Hibbard.

Roll out the red carpet once again! On Saturday, July 23, the Clifton Film Festival will return to the Lorton Workhouse Arts Center for its eighth annual appearance, as well as a departure from its original mission of showcasing the work of young, local filmmakers. Now there are two categories for submission: aspiring filmmakers (students) and professional filmmakers (19+) and there is no geographic limit to who can submit films.

As a result, there have been more submissions from a wider variety of people, which will gift the festival’s audience with a diverse set of films to enjoy.

From local independent production company Tohubohu Productions, William “Bill” Coughlan submitted two films that he and a creative team of writers, directors, actors and producers completed, both in 48 hour filmmaking competitions. In these competitions, teams are given a mandatory genre, character, prop and line of dialogue they must use in their film.

“Working within the parameters was difficult but also exhilarating,” Coughlan said.

Coughlan’s first submission, “Tex: Wisdom of the Old West,” took a unique spin on the western genre by taking a traditional cowboy and plunking him into modern day life. The second film, “The Greater Evil,” is a supernatural political thriller about a politician who has the ability to woo followers through his spellcasting.

“There’s a wealth of content and filmmakers flooding the industry/hobby now, and more competition leads to more rejections from film festivals. So when I was notified that my films were accepted to the Clifton Film Festival, it was like a breath of fresh air,” Coughlan said.

Meanwhile, it’s all about a bug’s life for Red Matter Productions filmmaker Matthew Robinson, who submitted a preview for his documentary, “Macro Nova,” about the bugs of Northern Virginia.

“I wanted to film something that people don’t notice,” Robinson said. “I wanted to show the unseen and unacknowledged world living right beneath our noses.” Robinson chose insects because they make excellent test subjects, able to go about their lives despite human presence, which allows him to capture footage “untouched by humans.”

Mike Chilson from Ugly Egyptian Kitty Productions used animatronic teddy bears as the stars of his short comedic film, “The Ruxpins.” Called Teddy Ruxpins, these popular 80s toys could “talk” on account of the audio cassette tape that played in their backs.

“[Getting accepted to the festival] was a little beam of sunlight amid an insane amount of rejection,” he said. “I was elated when I found out; it completely made my day.”

For another filmmaker, until ingenuity struck, his biggest challenge was overcoming writer’s block.

“My only idea at first was a puppet apocalypse,” shared 13-year-old Jonathan Breaux. It wasn’t until he was reading a book about evolution that he came up with the idea for his short film “H.U.M.A.N.S.” The comedic film, which he also acts in under his stage name Jonathan Newport, personifies the ongoing struggle between evolution and extinction.

Breaux also submitted his documentary, “Voices Unlocked – A True Story,” intended to get people rethinking what they know about autism. It looks at the Rapid Prompt Method (RPM) and how it aids communication among individuals with non-speaking autism, such as Breaux’s older brother, Ben.

For $10 tickets, these films and more will appear at 8th Annual Clifton Film Festival Saturday, July 23, at the Lorton Workhouse Arts Center. Doors open at 7 p.m. for dinner from food trucks and live music from the National Concert Band of America. Films will be shown starting at 9 p.m. and three judges from the film industry will award prizes for best picture, cinematography, sound and editing. Awards include filmmaking software such as Final Draft 8, Red Giant Software and a one year membership to Adobe Creative Cloud.

“I hope it continues to inspire and draw creatives as well as just the local community who wants to see great local films,” said festival creator and assistant director Dani Weinberg.