Does independence also mean isolation?

In covering the Maine filmmaking scene for the past year, I have been impressed by the energy, the enthusiasm and especially the fierce individualism of Maine’s movie makers.

But is that always a good thing?

There are those seeking to bring these disparate, often separate creative types together — such as the Maine Film and Video Association, an organization founded in 1999 to foster greater communication and cooperation among Maine’s filmmakers.

“The Maine community is very vital, which is wonderful, but they’re all doing their own thing,” says MFVA board member and filmmaker Greg Roscoe.

Apart from the tangible benefits of membership (free or discounted admission to MFVA events, discounts at associated film-friendly vendors, a link on the MFVA website and direct connections with MPBN and WPME’s local programming), MFVA offers the chance to have your work seen by different members of the Maine film fraternity, and to be exposed to the work of others.

“By being the historical organization we are, we have some valuable infrastructure: our website/meetings/networking,” he said. “The all-volunteer, nonprofit MFVA only wants to exist to do something of value; we want more participation for the sole purpose of building stronger community because of the advantages of having colleagues, of receiving input from people you ordinarily wouldn’t talk to.”

But it’s not been easy.

“We understand that we’ve not managed to entice the full community,” concedes Roscoe, who theorizes both a generational and a geographic divide — as well as, perhaps, some old-fashioned Maine stubbornness — as causes.

“On one side, there are the film and video professionals who are established and have carved out their niche in the business. They’re busy making a living; they don’t have the time to share the knowledge they have with the younger group,” he said. “Then there are the 48 Hour Film Festival people, a whole slew of Portland filmmakers and others.

“It may be an unfair generalization, but I think there is a generational divide, a lack of understanding of the benefits of an infrastructure. Plus, Maine is a tough state geographically to lasso. Whatever you do, it’s so big, you’re doing a disservice to somebody.”

MFVA’s next event, on June 25 at Southern Maine Community College, will bring three local films-in-progress in front of a panel of diverse reviewers to share ideas and get feedback from those outside their immediate circle. Filmmakers interested in showing their works should check out the MFVA website (mainefilm.info/index.php) for details.

“We value the collegiality, and want to endeavor to do it better,” Roscoe said.

Dennis Perkins is a freelance writer who lives in Portland.