Friday, April 23, 2004
In January while driving a shuttle between Lawrence and Kansas City International Airport, student Timothy Vickers overheard his only two passengers discussing a film festival and decided to join the conversation.
"It was 'C.S.A.' director Kevin Willmott and he was on his way to Sundance," recalls Vickers. "So I got to talk to him and (cinematographer) Matt Jacobson about their movie for an hour. Kevin was just really excited about the movie and everything. That whole drive was very interesting ... and inspirational."
That encounter helped inspire Vickers to organize the Lawrence Association of Future Filmmakers.
"There's really nothing for local fledgling filmmakers," he explains. "I wanted to give them the means to interact with others."
Vickers began kicking around the idea with "a bunch of other film nerds I used to work with at Yello Sub." Next thing he knew, he was printing up a stack of flyers inviting fellow filmmakers to assemble.
The first meeting of L.A.F.F. was last month at Free State Glass, and Vickers estimated about 25 people attended. The next get-together is scheduled for 6 p.m. April 30 at 1235 N.Y.
Group members are taking a proactive approach to their cinematic zeal. The first order of business for the L.A.F.F. is the 48 Hour Film Project, which comes to St. Louis on May 14.
"I just got the e-mail last night that our team was accepted," says the 22-year-old Vickers.
The 2004 contest will stage competitions in 24 cities, and this year that has expanded to include international stops in places such as London, Auckland, Copenhagen and Berlin.
Teams enlisted in the 48 Hour Film Project are responsible for supplying cast, crew and gear. The rules are that no creative planning or designing can take place before the event. To insure this, each filmmaking team is entered into a random drawing to determine the genre of their movie. A prop, character and a line of dialogue is additionally assigned that must be inserted into the final picture.
"I know at least 10 or 15 of the (L.A.F.F.) guys are going to be involved with it," says Vickers, who has set up lodging for the group at a friend's house in St. Louis.
The collective is also hoping to work on projects that are closer to home.
"We've been kicking around this idea for a documentary on the festival in Winfield," says Nick Brickner, a member of the L.A.F.F.
Brickner is referring to the Walnut Valley Festival in September, which draws thousands of fans to the tiny Kansas town for a five-day orgy of acoustic music.
"A couple of the guys are really into bluegrass, and they just threw that idea out," adds Vickers. "Apparently, there's never been a full-length documentary on it. We're going to try and have several teams go down there for two days at a time -- some for the setup and others for the show."
Vickers got involved with performing arts while taking theater classes during high school. He and a few buddies began goofing around with home movies, but his interest in moviemaking sat on the shelf for a few years until recently.
"It just seemed to me that when I met these other people up at Yello Sub, they'd never met any other people or worked with anybody else in town," says Vickers, a student at Johnson County Community College who will attend KU's film school next semester. "Everybody stayed in this one little group. Since filmmaking is such a collaborative process, that just seemed silly."