Arkansas film industry promoted by the Seedling Film Association

story and photos by Emily Hilley-Sierzchula, special to The City Wire

In a celebration of Arkansas filmmaking, about 100 people gathered at the Matt Miller Studio on the Fayetteville Square Friday night (Sept. 6) to hear what films will be featured at the upcoming 4th annual Offshoot Film Festival, which is run by the Seedling Film Association.

A joyful, intimate gathering where everyone seemed to know each other, the announcement party featured music by the Fayetteville duo Me & Owen and a performance by improv comedy troupe Phunbags.

Jules Taylor, SFA board member and Phunbags performer, described the troupe as similar to the TV show Whose Line Is It Anyway, featuring wacky, impromtu comedy.

The evening was all about celebrating filmmaking in Arkansas.

"Arkansas filmmakers are knocking it out of the park," Taylor said. The film festival will feature Arkansas filmmaking in a special category, and many of the film producers and actors were on hand for the evening to discuss their work.

One of the films to be screened at the October film fest is "Gordon Family Tree," which was filmed in Northwest Arkansas and features many local actors and crew.

"It was a community effort," said the film's producer Ryan Schwartzman. Interns were a big part of the project, as students from John Brown University and Fayetteville High School participated in the project and got valuable filmmaking experience.

Schwartzman said his Los Angeles-based production company is fielding requests for the students to work on movies in California, the industry’s haven.

Two baskets, both valued at more than $400, were auctioned to benefit the SFA. The Hollywood basket included a head shot session with M Photography and LA fashions from the Haley Boutique. The Fayetteville basket was full of "local flair," according to the SFA. The Fayetteville basket  sold for $100 and the Hollywood basket sold for $150.

The Offshoot Film Fest is becoming more well-known every year.

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"This international festival has gained a reputation as a friendly and intimate new film fest in a sweetheart of an American city," according to SFA.

The SFA is a nonprofit organization that aims to "enable, encourage and positively influence filmmaking in the Northwest Arkansas community," according to the SFA. 

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