The Indie 27

It seems the entire population of South Florida now works in the entertainment industry. If not full-time, then during the off-hours from their day jobs. And every single person is making a movie. Or already has one in the can. Or plans to make one as soon as he or she can, you know, arrange the financing.

Take Andrew Schefter. He punches the clock as a freelance unit production manager, line producer, and assistant director, recently knocking off a pilot for CBS. "Like most people in the indie film world," Schefter explains, "I support myself doing those things, but I have my scripts, I have other projects I'm repping, and I try to make my own films."

Or take Barbara Connell, a partner in Echo Bridge Productions, which mostly deals with industrial films, Internet technology, or postproduction for other people's films. Echo Bridge recently finished making its own feature-length film Landfall, scripted by Connell and produced by another Bridge principal, David Doepel.

Or Rob and Bronwyn Mills. He works as a counselor with kids who have behavioral problems; she's the assistant dean of the dance department at New World School of the Arts. Both sit on the board of the South Beach Film Festival, now in its sixth year. (Schefter also serves as a board member, as well as the festival's executive director.) Connell and Doepel's film enjoys its world premiere on Monday, April 19, as the centerpiece of this year's fest.

"I first had the idea [for the festival] about seven years ago," Mills notes. "In Miami there wasn't much available in terms of alternative or independent film festivals. There was the Miami Film Festival, but that's mostly commercial stuff that you're going to see in a theater eventually anyway." Back then, he recalls, he was co-producing a woolly, late-night, open-mike event for performance artists. "I wanted to do the same thing with film and filmmakers." So in 1994, the fest's inaugural year, Mills snagged Matthew Harrison's Spare Me, a "bowling noir," and Arthur Borman's And God Spoke to anchor his new venture.

Schefter estimates that approximately a third of the 27 works in this year's event were made by South Florida filmmakers. "Part of the idea," he says, "is to help bolster the local film-production community." People like Connell and Doepel. Connell describes their Landfall as "a love story involving an old woman, a young woman, and a ghost" set in Miami during the ten days prior to Hurricane Andrew. It's one of seven features in this year's festival, which also offers a clutch of documentaries, animated films, and experimental films, both short and long form -- all completely and utterly independent, as in lacking a distributor. For now at least.

-- Michael Yockel

The South Beach Film Festival runs from April 16 to 22 at the Colony Theater, 1040 Lincoln Rd, Miami Beach. Ticket prices vary. Call 305-532-1233. See "Calendar Events," page 43 for details.