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Now in our eighth calendar year!
PCR #354  (Vol. 8, No. 1) This edition is for the week of January 1--7, 2007.

2006: The Year in Retrospect  by William Moriaty
"Little Children"  by Mike Smith
The Top 10 Movies of 2006  by Mike Smith
An Open Letter To The Publishers of Creative Loafing  by Paul Guzzo
A Message from PUTZO, the Clown Who Loves Lousy Fandom!....Don Dohler is Gone  by Andy Lalino
What A Swinger....So Does Billy Preston Own "Get Back"?....Don Dohler....Indy 4....Whatever Happened To..? Chapter 1: Tim McIntire  by Mike Smith
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Filmlook by Paul Guzzo

An Open Letter to the Publishers of Creative Loafing

Disappointment … this is the only word needed to sum up the feeling of local independent filmmakers whenever your publication covers the local arts scene. Each year this edition covers the Tampa arts scene – theatre, music, dance, juried exhibitions, etc. – and each year you ignore the local independent film scene. In your recent end of the year edition published the week of December 29, 2006 you did it again – you reviewed the arts scene for 2006 and previewed 2007 and again no mention of the independent film scene here in Tampa.

In all fairness, your publication does a tremendous job of publicizing the major independent film events – film fests and local independent film premieres. You have awarded my brother Pete and I two Best of the Bay Awards and your publication wrote a great review of the St. Pete film Loren Cass this past year. My letter is not about ignoring the events local filmmakers hold throughout the year, which you again do a tremendous and fair job of doing, but rather your publication’s tendency to ignore and never mention local film whenever you cover the arts scene. To the readers of your publication, this omission says one thing – local independent film is not an art.

Film in fact encompasses a great number of art forms – acting, writing, music, set design (which always includes painting and sculptures of local artists), editing, lighting, photography, etc. And the director of these films needs the artistic vision to take all of these art forms and bring them together into one artistic medium – film.

Why during your arts edition every year do you name the top up-and-coming local theatrical directors, actors and shows in Tampa Bay but do not mention those who fill those same roles on film sets? Why is a theatrical show different than a film? Why do you cover local bands but not local film production companies? Why is it more impressive for a group of individuals to create beautiful music than a group of individuals to create a beautiful film? Why is it more creative to paint your vision on canvas than on film? Why is it more difficult to choreograph a dance than to choreograph a film? I am not downplaying any of these art forms, but wondering why every year your publication covers these in your arts edition but not film.

Film is not a cheap art to create. Many filmmakers work all year long, saving every penny they earn, so that they can bring their vision to life on the screen. Then, once their film has been completed, they spend more money flying around the country to showcase their film at film festivals, only to return home to find their local publications ignoring them.

So why isn’t the local independent film scene included in you arts edition or your year in review/preview edition? It cannot be due to lack of opportunities to view local films or meet local filmmakers. The Tampa Film Review hosted by my brother and I showcases up to half a dozen local films a month. Plus, Tampa Bay boasts a number of film festivals – Ybor Festival of the Moving Image, SunScreen Film Festival, Halloween Horror Show, the Independents Film Festival and now the Gasparilla Film Festival.

You are the creative outlet of publications in Tampa Bay. Is it not your job to attend these events and meet the local artists creating the films showcased? Why do you attend other art events and meet other artists but not the filmmakers?

In your recent 2006 in review/2007 preview, your publication listed what to look for in the coming year … again, no mention of the local independent film scene. Is there a lack of news about the local independent film scene? Not at all. You could have mentioned a number of happenings:

  1. Three years of the Tampa Film Review – the film scene is so strong that there is never a shortage of new films to show and our audience has grown from 20 – 30 people a month to over 100 people a month.
  2. The increase in local independent film production. More and more films are shot each year in Tampa Bay and more and more QUALITY films are shot each year. It seems a month can’t pass without me hearing of a new independent film being shot here in the Tampa Bay area.
  3. The growing number of online resources looking to bring local independent film news to the community. Visit websites such as www.greenroomtampabay.com, www.tamapfilmfan.com, www.tampafilmnetwork.com, or www.crazedfanboy.com. These websites and others document the daily happenings in the independent film scene in Tampa Bay. Dozens of men and women are looking to spread the word about our growing film scene. But none of these online destinations have the power of your publication to reach the masses.
  4. The creation of the Tampa Film Network – tired of a lack of resources, a number of local filmmakers led by Joe Davison and Chris Woods have banded together to form a networking meeting that allows all the local filmmakers to pull their resources so more quality films can be made.
  5. The explosion of film fests in the area. Some local “arts leaders” feel the number of film festivals in the area is a bad thing. People need to stop looking at the glass as half empty. To me, the growing number of film fests shows that there are a tremendous number of people looking to step up into leadership roles and promote independent film in the community. Too many film fests? That’s like saying there are too many bars allowing bands to perform. Why can a band play every week, but an independent film can only be shown once a year?
  6. The number of local film actors who began in independent film now finding Hollywood acting roles. From my own film 99, Ross Francis had a part in a Kevin Costner/Demi Moore movie; Brandon Rodriguez was the face of a new Microsoft commercial on CNN, had a role on the television show The Class, and a leading role in the television movie Vampire Bats, which starred Lucie Lawless; and Bobby Campo and Arnie Pantoja were also in Vampire Bats. Local actress Monica May went on to a starring role in Power Rangers, but got her start in a local film directed by Chris Woods called To Live Is To Die. Yet, never a mention of any these post-Tampa successes.

The local independent filmmakers appreciate the promotion of our events and know you are the top publication when it comes to doing so, but at some point we’d like our art form included in your editions that discuss the local arts scene. Filmmaking in Tampa Bay has come a long way over the past few years and deserves more respect. You are the publication that is supposed to cater to and cover the creative scene here in Tampa Bay. I ask that in 2007 you add local independent film to your list of arts to cover.

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    "Filmlook" is ©2007 by Paul Guzzo.   All graphics unless otherwise noted are creations of Nolan B. Canova.  All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2007 by Nolan B. Canova.