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We weren’t really sure what to expect when we first came up with the idea of having an evening of short films as a way to highlight the work of local moviemakers. But the response was so overwhelming in both numbers and quality of submissions that we have created a film festival, an annual competition open to Maine filmmakers, complete with an awards show to honor the winners.

The inaugural Portland Phoenix Short Film Festival, in partnership with Portland’s public-access Community Television Network (cable channels 2 and 4), drew entries from all over Maine, from filmmakers of all ages (including a seventh-grader from South Berwick). The audience at our awards show also drew widely, attracting movie fans from as far away as Damariscotta, and a 14-month-old director-in-training.

While Hollywood may have the big bucks, Mainers are making a strong go of movie-making all on their own, and we encourage more of the same — go out and make movies, and go out and watch locally made movies.

Click on each screenshot to watch the movie on YouTube

Film of the year
Driving Miss Crazy
by William Fraser
Driving Miss Crazy, the part eerie, part goofy twist on a lovers’ spat gone demented, was created for the 48-Hour Film Festival by a group of friends living in Damariscotta who call themselves “Wicked Good Films.” This is director and lead actor William Fraser’s first film, though he has worked behind the scenes on a number of reality TV shows. Fraser says he was surprised by the win, given the caliber of the contenders. “After making this film,” he said, while accepting the award from Portland Phoenix publisher Marc Shepard, “I never want to hear another cell phone ring again.” We don’t want to blab the film’s surprise plot for those of you who’ll check it out online, but let’s just say a particularly annoying cell phone ringtone is used so often it could demand a mention in the credits.
- Sara Donnelly

Best comedy
by Savannah Magruder
Now a seventh-grader at Marshwood Junior High School in Eliot, Savannah Magruder made Swampcat about a year and a half ago, she says, based on a monster she and her father dreamed up and joked about during a hike through a swampy area.

“That Christmas I had gotten a video camera and I was making a ton of movies with my dolls,” says Magruder, who entered her film in the 2005 New Hampshire Film Expo, which accepts films from Maine moviemakers as well.

Magruder is still making movies and hopes to make many more, “but definitely not with my dolls anymore.” Instead, she is casting friends and family members in acting roles, including joint productions with a cousin she collaborates with at family reunions.

Her father, Chris Magruder, composed the film’s theme song; though Savannah says she was originally nervous it might not work, she pronounces it “perfect.”

- Jeff Inglis

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  Topics: Features , William Fraser, Marc Shepard, Edward Little High School,  More more >
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