Mainers making movies have things a lot easier than they would have even a decade ago.

Much of that has to do with the (relative) affordability of decent cameras and equipment and the (relative) ease, thanks to the Internet, with which a filmmaker can have his movie more widely seen.

But equally important to the growth of the Maine film scene are professionals who seek to nurture it, to provide the aspiring local director with an established outlet for interesting Maine-made movies.

For local filmmaker Corey Norman, founder of the student film festival Film Chowdah (filmchowdah.org), establishing a place for Maine’s student filmmakers to exhibit their movies in a commercial theater setting is an important way to encourage the growth and development of the next generation of local talent.

“At the time I started Film Chowdah,” Norman said, “I was an adjunct instructor at both USM and SMCC. I saw that there was cool narrative and documentary stuff coming from SMCC students, and cool experimental stuff from USM, but thought it was a shame they wouldn’t see each others’ work.

“I thought a student film festival would be a chance to bring them together out in a public forum. It’s really a bummer to see students work so hard on a film for a semester and then that’s the end of it.”

Norman, now chair of the communications and new-media department at Southern Maine Community College, has seen Film Chowdah grow each of its three years, with more than 300 attendees at last year’s showing at Portland’s Nickelodeon Cinemas, and student participation growing as well.

“We’re excited at our first submission from UMaine Orono,” said Norman, “And at a film from NESCom in Bangor, as well as from USM and SMCC. Northern Maine is starting to participate, and we’re hoping for an even wider variety of schools.”

Norman is equally enthusiastic about this year’s crop of student shorts and, although he doesn’t want to spoil today’s 7 p.m. screening at the Nick, he’s particularly excited for the “especially strong” experimental film offerings. Tickets are $5.

As for me (proud to have been asked to take part in this year’s judging), I can definitely promise an ambitious, varied evening of cinema including comedy, drama, a thriller, a music video and, just perhaps, a puppet fight club.

As Norman said, “If you’re interested in film at all, come out and support these young filmmakers — they’re the future of filmmaking in our state.”

Dennis Perkins is a Portland freelance writer.