News Column

Maine filmmakers network, tout their projects

July 12, 2014

By Amy Calder, Morning Sentinel, Waterville, Maine

July 12--WATERVILLE -- Rob Little spent much of his youth outdoors with a camera, filming animals and researching them to share what he learned with others.

He dove into swamps, retrieving snapping turtles and capturing their movements on video.

"I would teach my friends; I would teach anybody who was willing to listen," Little said. "I would usually drag my friends along on different treks. They thought it was pretty cool. They always thought I was a little crazy -- crazy in a good way."

As a high school junior, Little studied at a magnet school in the Bahamas, where he made an underwater camera and scuba dove through reefs, filming stingrays and other marine life.

His love of the outdoors, story-telling, filming and teaching ultimately brought him to his current profession -- freelance filmmaker, editor and writer.

So Little, now 25, and a 2012 Bates College graduate, found Saturday's filmmakers networking brunch at Hathaway Creative Center a perfect venue to connect with other people doing similar work.

The Making it in Maine Filmmakers' Networking Brunch, co-hosted by the Maine International Film Festival, drew about 40 filmmakers, writers, editors and videographers to discuss their works and backgrounds, learn about funding and grants available and become familiar with other opportunities offered to people in their line of work.

They socialized for the first hour and then spoke about their projects, one by one.

Film Festival Director Shannon Haines spoke, as did representatives from the other organizations hosting the event: the Maine Film Center, of which Haines also is executive director; the Maine Film & Video Association; the Maine Film Office, the Maine Public Broadcasting Network; and the Maine Arts Commission.

Haines said Saturday's event was the festival's first-ever networking brunch for filmmakers.

Little told his peers that he is writing, shooting, editing and producing an educational Web series, "Detect Earth," that teaches children about ecology and the outdoors.

The series focuses on a ferret named Clover, a detective who goes on mystery adventures. The first episode features Clover tipping a trash can over onto herself and launching a mission to find out why trash has a terrible odor.

"I do have a ferret and she was sort of an inspiration, but I created the show long before I knew she would become part of it," Little said before Saturday's event started. The trailer for the series, which also features Little's Great Dane, may be viewed at DetectEarth.com

Little, of Lewiston, lives with his wife, Jennifer, a midwife who also teaches drama at Auburn Middle School. He said he hopes teachers can use the ferret series in the classroom to introduce new ideas and use it to inspire further exploration of ecology.

He hoped to make connections at Saturday's event, make people more aware of his project and ultimately, garner funding and support.

"I really like the idea of getting to share and meet other filmmakers," he said. "I want to see what they're working on as well."

When the two-hour event was over, Little said that was one of the most valuable things he took from the workshop.

"Filmmaking can be kind of a lonely business in Maine," he said. "Going from beginning to end, there are slow parts. It's nice to see everybody forging ahead."

Little said he is a great-great-great-great-great-grandson of Edward Little, a philanthropist for whom Auburn's Edward Little High School is named, and the younger Little attended that school. Rob Burke edited the Norway Savings Bank television commercials and worked on "The Peloton Project," a feature-length documentary about living with cancer. Bob O'Connor, of China, said he is making a documentary for the China Lake Association about an effort to return alewives to the lake. The goal is to raise money to buy pieces of property where five small dams are located in Vassalboro, between the Kennebec River and China Lake, so the dams can be removed or fish ladders built, according to O'Connor.

Alewives, he said, can reduce the problem the lake has with algae and make the water clearer.

A member of the lake association since its inception in 1987, O'Connor said he counts loons on the lake, which would benefit greatly from alewives, which were plentiful there years ago.

"It's putting the ecosystem back in balance, the way it had been," he said. "Alewives are a wonderful fish because they help the whole environment."

The lake association also has been working to help reduce the amount of phosphorus entering the lake from people's lawns, sewer systems and storm water, as phosphorus causes algae to grow and algae reduces water clarity, according to O'Connor. The association also sponsors courtesy boat inspections to make sure milfoil does not enter the lake, he said.

A documentary about the association's efforts would help kick-start an awareness campaign, he said.

"The idea is to tell the story of why this is important and why it's a worthwhile project."

Filmmaker Ernest Thompson, who wrote the play "On Golden Pond," encouraged filmmakers not to be daunted by amount of funding required to make a film. He said many people, particularly in Maine, will allow you to film on their property at no cost. He also said he has found some of the most wonderful actors in people who have never acted before.

Thompson spends summers on Great Pond, which was the inspiration for "On Golden Pond," a 1981 movie starring the late Katharine Hepburn, Henry Fonda and Fonda's daughter, Jane Fonda. While Thompson fought to have the movie made in Maine, it was actually filmed in New Hampshire. Thompson won an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay in 1982 for the film.

Later Saturday, Thompson held a workshop about making the film "Heavenly Angle," his latest project from Whitebridge Farm Productions.

The film will be shown at 3:30 p.m. Sunday, as well as at that same time July 20, at the Waterville Opera House.

Also on Saturday, the 2014 Waterville Arts Fest was held. It was the first collaborative event hosted as part of Waterville Creates! Administered by Waterville Main Street, an art show and sale was set up on Main Street. The day's events included participation from many new faces including the Maine Film Center, Stained Glass Express, Waterville Public Library, Colby College Museum of Art, Common Street Arts and Waterville Opera House. The Maine Film Center hosted a video competition for young filmmakers, the library provided materials for people to explore their creativity, Common Street Arts held a family clay day and studio tours and the Colby Museum hosted a hands-on woodworking activity. The Opera House hosted a dramatic performance workshop, Stained Glass Express hosted glass fired beading and mosaic demonstrations and Mainely Brews and Silver Street Tavern featured outdoor live music. Hardy Girls Healthy Women, Waterville Bike Ped Committee and Days Jewelers also hosted events.

The day was sponsored by Day's, Kennebec Federal Savings and Bill Taylor'sMemorial Fund and was supported by The Framemakers owners Amy Cyrway and Scott Vigue, according to information from Waterville Main Street.

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(c)2014 Morning Sentinel (Waterville, Maine)

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Source: Morning Sentinel (Waterville, ME)


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