Victoria film festival welcomes talent from near and far
Anthony Pedone is pulling at the heartstrings of those he has built relationships with despite how many miles he's traveled to take the film festival to where it hasn't been before. He's corralled directors and jurors he has worked with in the past and those who share a bond with Victoria.
This year's Victoria TX Independent Film Festival includes the quirky direction of Steve Balderson, the romantic visions of Will Moore and emotional connections of juror Aaron Marshall.
Give a budding child the gift of a VHS camcorder and fuel his imagination for a lifetime. That was the case for Balderson.
With more than 15 years of professional experience under his belt, plus his endeavors as child filmmaker, the 38-year-old director has developed a style all his own.
Balderson got his start in film when his grandfather gave him a camcorder at the ripe age 8 or 9 years old. It was then that he started casting his siblings, friends and parents to play parts in his home movies.
But his most recent film "Culture Shock," is definitely not a home movie. The filmwill hit the silver screen at the Leo J. Welder Center the first night of the festival.
The film, which was shot in London, was his first movie that was completed without any formal permits or permission to shoot, he said. The film revolves around a group of college graduates making the jump across the big pond for the first time. In the midst of their adventure, they find themselves elbow deep in an international crime ring.
"It's got that whole Saturday morning Scooby-Doo fun ... sort of frivolous and just totally purely entertainment for the joy of escapism," he said.
The Kansas native worked with Pedone and returning juror, Jane Wiedlin, during the filming of "Culture Shock," an experience that has him looking forward to more opportunities to collaborate on films. Balderson even teased about hosting some improv.
"Everything that I've done has a traditional story line structure - it feels like a movie that you've seen or that you know - but there is always something about them that seems new," he said.
Moore's interest in filmmaking stemmed from summers spent working with his dad, who was a costume designer. When he set foot onto his first film set, he said he was blown away.
The work behind the scenes, production of sets, partnering with actors and all the people behind the cameras were all key to his decision to pursue getting into the industry to make a name for himself.
"It gave me a taste for the filmmaking process for sure," said Moore, a Victoria native. "It really set me on the path of wanting to be a filmmaker."
Before he made the leap into directing, he worked on such films as "The Faculty" and "We Were Soldiers" on the production side. The long hours on set, he said, didn't allow for much creativity or time to work on personal projects, so he branched off from costumes and started to focus his efforts and energy on writing, producing and directing.
In 2001, he began writing his own short stories and films. And the rest - it's history.
After completing the film "Satellite of Love," Moore and co-writer Jonathan Case hit the film festival circuit.
They've traveled near and far for a chance to earn recognition and network with other people in the industry. But now, Moore is making his way back home.
"I thought it was a really great opportunity to come back to Victoria and show my work to my hometown crowd and see what their thoughts were," he said.
The film, "Satellite Of Love," is a product of the lives of Moore and Case. He described the film as a look at two paths taken by friends and as something he hopes movie-goers can relate to.
"We all second-guess our decisions, and that's a lot of what the film is about," he said. "It's about coming to terms with the decisions that we've made and moving forward from there."
He has family in Victoria and visits once or twice a year, and he said he is excited to see what Pedone has done with the Victoria film festival.
A Victoria native and University of Texas-Kingsville graduate, Marshall is making his way back home to serve as a juror at the film festival.
For the 34-year-old director/writer, films were more than just entertainment - it became his voice.
"I like telling stories," he said. "It's a really good medium for engaging people in a well-told story."
After taking part in various film festivals with his own films, including "Zombie Girl: The Movie," which won the Spirit Award at the Slamdance Film Festival, Marshall saw an opportunity at the film festival to change hats from being behind the camera to sitting in front of the silver screen.
"I've got the fate of these films in my hands - at least in the terms of an award at the festival," he said. "There's a strong sense of responsibilities that come with being a juror."
To prepare for the juror role, Marshall said he has watched a slew of movies he describes as the best of the best. During the process of choosing which films grace the Victoria venues at the film festival, Pedone has had to watch hundreds of movies to dwindle it down to a list of favorites.
For Marshall, who has been a juror at other film festivals, he says it's stressful work but still fun.
"As with any movie or book or TV show, it's just something that grabs you and affects you personally and also exhibits a high-level of skill," he said.
Stories that leave the movie-goer with thoughts in their head days after having seen the film are the ones he said he looks out for most.
"I look for things that have that impact," Marshall said.