FilmBar to showcase films created by independent Arizona filmmakers

Local filmmakers have the opportunity to share their work at FilmBar as a part of Phoenix Showcase Saturday. (Molly Bilker/DD)

The Phoenix Showcase at FilmBar presents a rare opportunity for local filmmakers to show their work to a wider audience, highlighting films that would not otherwise receive exposure.

The downtown independent cinema and bar started the exhibition in April to increase awareness of the state’s film community. Two short films and one feature-length movie are slatted to run Saturday.

“Anyone can really make a movie these days,” said Bret Thomas, director of “The Lakeside Killer”. “I’m surprised more independent films aren’t becoming successful.”

FilmBar is one of the few locations where local independent films can be screened in Arizona, with others including The Loft in Tucson and Camelview in Scottsdale. FilmBar owner Kelly Aubey said there used to be a number of independent movies that made it to the big screen, such as “Reservoir Dogs” in 1992. Today, it’s rare for smaller films to reach a wider audience.

“Just like any business, it’s a territory struggle,” he said. “We’re always trying to find ways to support local filmmakers.”

The two shorts being shown on Saturday are “Tough Love,” directed by Patrick Giglio, and “The Lakeside Killer,” directed by Thomas. The feature length film is titled “Biology 101” from Christopher Smith.

“The Lakeside Killer” went viral after Thomas set up a promotional blog about the film’s fictional murderer and put up fake ‘missing’ posters to generate buzz for the film. Thomas was featured on Fox 10 to talk about the advertisements after they caused a stir with local residents.

Smith described “Biology 101” as a dark comedy and thriller about biology professor Bill Pollard who is obsessed with a porn star and discovers that his newest student is the same person.

“He must deal with a situation that blends reality and fantasy and it leads to some very dark and unpleasant places,” said Smith.

Producer, editor and co-writer of “Tough Love” Robin Coté describes herself as an industry veteran who has been in the business since she was eleven years old, starting as a child actor. She now runs an editing company called Dragonfire Productions LLC.

“When you get on a movie set, it makes you feel alive,” she said.

Her film is a comedy about a boy whose mother died and whose father is dating another woman. Through a strange ordeal involving kidnapping, he learns to appreciate the family he has.

Each filmmaker mentioned the former state tax incentive for filming in Arizona, which drove Hollywood directors in-state to film westerns during the genre’s Golden Age. The tax incentive expired in 2010 and has yet to be renewed.

Coté said FilmBar is “like having a home theater” and she wishes she had a theater like it in college.

Her appreciation of the local venue is shared among the rest of the filmmakers.

“It’s one of our favorite places to drink and watch movies,” said Smith nodding to his art director and co-writer, Liz Bradley. “We like local filmmakers to meet us and see our film.”

“There was a need to showcase local filmmakers,” FilmBar film programmer Andrea Beesley said.

The Phoenix Showcase, which is 21 and over, is on Sept. 7 at 10 p.m.

Correction: Sept. 6, 2013

A previous version of this article incorrectly stated Robin Coté’s involvement with “Tough Love.” She is the producer, editor and co-writer of the short film.

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