No Festival Required to present independent films shot in Arizona or by Arizona filmmakers

No Festival Required will present “Selections: The All AZ Shorts Show,” a collection of unique independent films, at Bragg’s Pie Factory, giving exposure to unknown filmakers. (Madeline Pado/DD)

No Festival Required, a local organization that screens unique independent films, will present “Selections: The All AZ Shorts Show,” a screening of the works of Arizona independent filmmakers and independent short films shot in Arizona.

There will be 17 short films by 17 different filmmakers at the event, being held at Bragg’s Pie Factory near Grand and Fifteenth avenues. The filmmakers were personally invited by Steve Weiss, the film programmer and executive director for the screening.

Weiss, 56, founded No Festival Required in 2002. He said that after 10 years, which he calls his “Ten-Cennial,” the current focus of No Festival Required is to find and screen feature-length documentaries, narratives, experimental and innovative films, and short films shot by talented filmmakers who don’t have an audience for their work.

“This all began with the idea that I knew there were a lot of short films out there that weren’t being seen,” Weiss said. “I went out and looked for stuff to throw on a wall and make a show.”

Back in 2002, the wall was that of Modified Arts, a contemporary art gallery in downtown Phoenix.

There were no entry fees, and there will be no prizes for the All AZ Shorts Show, unlike most film festivals. This is where “No Festival Required” gets its name.

“I don’t want filmmakers to feel like they’re obligated to pay me something to reject them,” Weiss said. “Most filmmakers who submit their work for a festival are rejected and they generally don’t know why.”

Weiss said this festival organization really affects a filmmaker’s final product.

“So what happens then is people are working toward a goal of getting in instead of a goal of just making a great film, and I think that starts to influence the process,” Weiss said. “I do reject films, but one of my rules is that if I reject a film, I tell the filmmaker why.”

Weiss said the toughest challenge for filmmakers is they don’t usually get to see other people’s responses to their work.

“These shows are a method for people to get exposure for their films. This gives them an opportunity to see how their film does with an audience without having to pay an entry fee and maybe not ever see any audience see their film,” he said.

During his career, Weiss has screened hundreds of films and has put on numerous events to showcase the work of talented filmmakers.

“I always looked at the criteria as being any film that was great,” he said. “It didn’t matter is the filmmaker was from Arizona or Canada or Brazil.”

Weiss said he organized a show, every February from 2002 to 2007, that was primarily for Arizona filmmakers to showcase talent locally. Born and raised in Arizona, Weiss said he has always been very proud of his state.

“I’m always glad when I find really good films in Arizona because I’m always looking for great Arizona films, but they can be hard to find,” he said. “I’m always looking for new content.”

Weiss said the most challenging part of the All AZ Shorts Show — or any show — is arranging the films so that they’re in an order that makes sense and is fun to watch.

“The films that will be shown Saturday range from digital filmmaking by student filmmakers, to animations, to pro creations. There will be all kinds of films,” Weiss said. “It’s going to go from highly experimental to screen documentary.”

But he said he doesn’t want anyone to come with any preconceptions about what they’ll be seeing.

“I always tell people to not come in with any expectations,” Weiss said. “The only expectation anyone should have is that the films are relatively short, so if you don’t like one, another one is going to come along in a few minutes.”

Goodyear painter-turned-filmmaker Steven Yazzie, is one of the 17 filmmakers who will have his short film shown at the All AZ Shorts Show. His film is called “Looking for Psosido” and is about “the process of exploring the unknown,” he said.

Yazzie was recruited by Weiss in 2012 at an end-of-the-semester showcase for his ASU documentary class. He says the best part about shows like the All AZ Shorts Show is “having a platform for experimental work.”

“I think it’s a great opportunity for someone to share their work and be exposed to the larger arts community,” Yazzie said.

Lisa Wegner is another filmmaker featured in the show. Wegner lives in Toronto, Canada, but was chosen for the show because her film was shot in the Arizona desert. Her film is called “Desert to Dessert,” and is a metaphor for her personal struggle with an illness, she said.

“The film is an allegorical piece about what it felt like to have a brain injury,” Wegner said.

Weiss said he always liked to throw a lot at his audience in a short period of time, saying that is unique to short film shows.

“The goal of No Festival Required is to show thoughtful, provocative, interesting, entertaining and enlightening films, and this show on Saturday is one part of my mission to get Arizona filmmakers recognized,” Weiss said. “Especially the untraditional filmmakers.”

Tickets for the show Saturday are $5 dollars at the door, cash only. Doors to Bragg’s Pie Factory’s Frontal Lobe Gallery will open at 6:30 p.m. and the show will begin at 7 p.m. It will last approximately an hour and a half.

“Also, I’m 99 percent positive I’m bringing out my popcorn machine,” Weiss said.

Contact the reporter at jasmine.barta@asu.edu

Correction: Feb. 14, 2013

This article originally mistyped “pro creation” as “procreation.” The article has been changed to reflect the change.