Fade In (Part 1): The Origin of the CU Film Society
Ladies and Gentlemen, I want to warmly welcome you to the official site for the newly formed Champaign-Urbana Film Society. In this first blog, I want to just share with you some of our hopes and dreams about what we feel this Society is and can become.
The Society was first thought up by myself, Luke Boyce, and my business partner, Brett Hays, somewhere around September 2010. Together we own and operate a small independent film production company called “Shatterglass Studios“. Some of you might recognize our name as we’ve produced several award-winning shorts and features, mostly shot in the Champaign and Chicago area’s. In 2009, we managed and co-produced the award-winning feature “Leading Ladies”, directed by Daniel and Erika Randall Beahm. It was the first full-length film that we had produced in Champaign and the cooperation that we found in the area was breathtaking. Champaign-Urbana is not only a brilliantly progressive and culturally-savvy town, but it is full of completely wonderful people who are infinitely supportive of the arts. For decades, many of us who have resided here have seen this first-hand with our amazing music scene, but there has been an underlying scene of local filmmakers and film-lovers in this town that have been crying out for their own community as well.
In the past 13 years we’ve really seen that community blossom under the incredible experiences of our annual Ebertfest! Every year, around the last week of April, Champaign becomes a film town, front and center. Roger Ebert, our hometown hero, gracefully brings his unmatched love of cinema to our small city and we get 5 days of glorious cinephilia hosted by Roger and his amazing wife, Chaz, all under the roof of our very own “Picture Palace” at the majestic Virginia Theater. But after those intoxicating 5 days are over, the cinephiles of Champaign-Urbana are once again scattered for the remaining 11 months, left to our own solitary devices.
At Shatterglass Studios, Brett and my life is film. It’s what we do on a daily basis. We watch it, study it, make it and most importantly we LOVE IT. The only things we really love more than film is our families and our community. It’s our love of this community that lead us to want to bring together all the film-lovers in Champaign-Urbana. We wanted to develop an organization that would be film-focused, both on literacy and education. So about 8 months ago we decided to gather up a small group of like-minded individuals, other Champaign-Urbana natives who love film and filmmaking as much as we do, and pitched them our idea to create this organization that could unite the film-lovers and film-makers of Champaign the entire year through various programs like special screenings of classic and independent films and workshops and classes to teach the art of filmmaking in order to foster a more vibrant filmmaking community in Champaign as well.
The idea went even better than expected. Everybody we pitched it to wanted to be involved immediately and heavily. Chris and Anne Lukeman, who together have created some of the most creative and original independent films you’ll ever see, and have been two of the forerunners of the Champaign independent film scene. Bill Kephart, who has been an incredible force for local acting in Champaign, bringing together a network of incredibly talented individuals, and being a massively talented thespian himself. AJ Christensen, an employee at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications, who is not only a professional filmmaker himself, but also a passionate advocate for student filmmaking and independent animation, having overseen the University’s chapter of SIGGRAPH in years past. And Myles Beeson, a young filmmaker and alumnus of the New York Film Academy in Los Angeles, whose skills have found him in various exotic locales shooting films and commercials for major corporations. Each of these amazing people were eager to get on-board and with their devoted help within weeks we had already developed a serious game-plan to bring a Film Society to Champaign-Urbana.