Now let’s go to the video
MICHIGAN CITY – While directing a play in Chesterton a few years ago, the thought came to Dan Schaaf: “Why not a short video festival?” – and the Michigan City Video Fest was born.
For this year’s fourth annual event, a total of 26 videos were shown at The Nest on Saturday and the Michigan City Public Library on Sunday. Mike Koss was also a co-founder, with Patrick Bannon assisting over the years.
Videos came from Northwest Indiana, other Indiana cities, and as far away as Los Angeles, New York and even Austria.
Schaaf was “very pleased” with the line-up, saying many videos “gave the audience a different visual perspective” of the lakefront. “And the ‘heavier’ videos gave people things to think about they haven’t before. It was less about technique and more about saying something. Many were personal statements.”
Manning Cox agreed: “I love the disturbing factors involved. This was something you would see in DC. It was very powerful.” Having only visited the Midwest to go to Chicago before, she moved to the area last May.
Chris Oliver, owner of Infinite Painting & Design, submitted a commercial video created for his clothing line, Lake Effect. “It’s Not Just A Warning. It’s A Lifestyle,” started as a “side pipedream that has taken off,” he said.
The video includes footage from local businesses, including Franklin Street Barbers, Carlson’s Drive-In and Matey’s. In addition, area points of interest are featured. Just a few minutes in length, it covers “a day in Michigan City from sunrise to sunset.”
The video was seen on infinitepaintingdesign.com and social media outlets, and on Facebook it’s received 69 shares, 4,500 views and reached 10,000 people, he said.
“We got good reviews and reception. It was really awesome,” said Oliver, who’d never entered the festival. “I try to make videos for all that I do (in his business). I constantly have video visions.”
Oliver’s wasn’t the only video to feature Lake Michigan and other points of interest. It was a recurring theme in submissions that included surfing on Lake Michigan, historic postcards of the amusement park in Washington Park, and aerial shots of the docks and lighthouse.
“I think the videos were excellent,” said Ralph Kipniss of the National Association for the Arts, who attended both days. “I love the way they did the change in weather and all the shots of the lighthouse.”
Nancy Moldenhauer, of Michigan City, was also impressed.
“I think it’s marvelous. I would like to see more people come. There’s a lot of talent here in Michigan City and this is a wonderful festival to focus on our artists, writers and videomakers. I love the variety,” she said. “I really appreciated that the submissions were very diverse. People continue to be inspired by our beaches and lighthouse. How they presented these in some very different ways were visually and intellectually stimulating.”
In addition to Oliver, Ollie Stewart, of Terre Haute, was present Sunday. She premiered her four-minute video, “At Any Hour,” aa look into the life of someone with mental illness.
“For me, film is about being able to share experiences,” she said. “A lot of the things I write are based off of my own thoughts and feelings as a young person with bipolar disorder. I love being able to put part of myself into my films and for other people to be able to watch and relate it to themselves in their own way. I love that film gives us a way to understand each other through shared experiences, and making films that deal with the topic of mental health is really important to me for that reason.”
Julie Scher entered her short but poignant video, “Living With Severe Disabilities,” also for the first time in a festival. She found the event on the website, filmindiana.org,.
“For over 25 years as a photojournalist I’ve told stories about amazing people with text and images,” said the owner of Midwest Film Factory in Auburn. “I love documentaries, the stories of real people.”
Scher said the video highlights issues people with disabilities encounter with people who patronize or ignore them.
“ ‘Living with a Severe Disability’ is a powerful ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’ story told in short documentary form,” Scher said. “We need to find the balance between being given too much or being given too little. We all have differences, and unless we listen to each other, we won’t discover what’s possible to create in our lives and others’ lives to find happiness.”
Dave Fink, MCPL Youth Services Librarian, is a festival veteran who submitted, “Stomp Rockets!,” filmed at the library during the first week of summer break.
“To me, the video captures kids being kids, collaborating in a fun activity with joy and excitement at the dawn of summer break,” he said.
It captures kids designing, building and launching paper rockets.
“I decided to enter this video because I feel it depicts the fun-loving spirit that exists in the Michigan City community,” Fink said. “I was born and raised here and, for the past seven years, I have worked with MC youth all over the city. To me, this video gives the audience a glimpse of what a joy it is to work with the kids and families here.”