Flagler Film Festival Broadens Palm Coast’s Cultural Frame–and Seeks Local Filmmakers, FlaglerLive | June 14, 2013

Flagler Film Festival BroadensPalm Coast resident Kathie Barry had no idea how tough it could be to make an indie film — until her son made one.

When Kevin James Barry graduated from the Massachusetts College of Art and Design, he wasn’t ready to turn in his final project, a thriller called “Serena and the RATTS,” but he wasn’t sure he could continue without the school’s resources, either — until mom and dad pitched in, creating Wolfe Productions LLC to help finance the movie to completion.

Now, the family has teamed up with Florida video producer Orion Christy and created a film festival to help other aspiring filmmakers get their work out there.

Movies came in from as far away as China, Iceland, South Korea and Australia, and will be screened Jan. 10-12 at the Hilton Garden Inn in Palm Coast.

“The most exciting thing is seeing the filmmakers get their work into a venue where people can watch it,” Kathie Barry said. “It’s very hard to get into festivals; it’s really a first step in a filmmaker’s path.”

Of the films that will be screened at the festival, Barry said, 18 are from Florida, and 12 are from foreign countries. The festival was listed on the international filmmaking and film festival submission website withoutabox.com, which gave it a lot of exposure, she said.

But many of the filmmakers have local ties, like Kari Barber, whose parents live in Flagler County.

Barber’s documentary, “Baking Alaska,” about two sisters who left stable jobs in Oklahoma to open a bakery in a tiny Alaskan town, began as a thesis project at American University in Washington, D.C.

When she heard about their employment shift, Barber — a journalist who has covered politics and conflict in Asia and Africa for news organizations like Reuters and Associated Press Television News — followed the duo up to Homer, Alaska, to record their adventure.

Much of the money for the project, she said, came from Flagler County residents who contributed through kickstarter.com.

“A lot of the people that gave money are in that area, so I was really happy to be able to show it in Flagler,” she said. Barber has taken a job as an assistant professor at the University of Nevada, but she hopes to be able to make it to Flagler for the screening.

Barry’s reward, she says, is helping filmmakers, who pour so much passion into movies, get their movies an audience.

“They’re very particular, and they want their films to look a certain way and sound a certain way,” she said. “If hadn’t seen what my son went through, I don’t think I’d understand what it takes to make an indie film. It was like a labor of love for him to finish this movie.”

Barry hopes to make the festival an annual Flagler County event, she said.

“We have some really good comedies, and I think comedies are some of the hardest things to do,” she said. “We have a wonderful romance film from Northern Ireland. We have several excellent documentaries that were very eye-opening.”

One of those, she said, is a documentary about the history of desegregation in Flagler County, produced by Flagler Palm Coast High School students in collaboration with the African American Cultural Society of Palm Coast. There are also plenty of horror films, she said.

Barry hopes the fest will help launch young filmmakers’ careers. Distributors often scout talent at festivals, and filmmakers who have screened at a festival also get to list their work on the Internet Movie Database, IMDb.com.

The Flagler Film Festival costs $10 to $40 for submissions — so it’s accessible for filmmakers working on tight budgets. But to keep prices low, Barry said, they’re looking for corporate sponsors, for this and next year.

Barber, who has been to two fests for “Baking Alaska,” said these sorts of events are also a great way for film newbies to make contacts.

“You meet people, compete, just get your name out there,” she said.”

Kathie Barry’s son Kevin did just that: He’s currently negotiating distribution rights for “Serena and the RATTS,” following a screening at the Film-Com Festival, in Nashville.

But the festival isn’t just about networking, Barry said. It’s about the films.

“They’re very well-made and interesting and eye-opening. I was blown away by a few of them,” she said. “There’s a lot of good that can come from these indie films.”