What does the Portland film scene need?

Maine filmmakers who have achieved success “away” (like Kyle Rankin and his “Infestation”) stress the need for tax incentives to lure big-time film production. And I heartily agree.

David Meiklejohn has other ideas.

Meiklejohn is a Portland-based filmmaker who has recently finished a feature-length documentary about love called “My Heart Is an Idiot,” which is in the editing/test screening stages. He’s also broken down the Portland scene to three areas in need of improvement:

AUDIENCE: “Willingness to experience new films is key, because what Portland has now (without a cohesive film community) is accidental cinematic experiences, people watching whatever films cross their paths. I want audience members to ferociously pursue new films, and demand new expression in cinema. The kind of audience I envision is fierce and joyful, and experiences films on multiple levels.

“The simplest way to grow this kind of audience is constant exposure to diverse styles of films. Enthusiastic champions are needed. I think weekly film salons, each focused on their own niche, could build a larger film community. People become invested with small, intimate gatherings, where their presence is so valuable.”

CREATORS: “The best way for the body of filmmakers to grow is for more work to be created locally. There needs to be education and a supportive but critical environment that inspires young filmmakers to make work, but also pushes them to work harder and more thoughtfully. It depends on keeping the ball rolling, building the momentum and hustling to make new work. And, of course, the work has to be good too. It has to inspire the audience, otherwise it will become a joke.”

SUPPORT: “Support comes from people who educate filmmakers, who host film salons, who own businesses that screen films. People like Eddy Bolz at the Nickelodeon and Jon Courtney at Space Gallery are good examples. But we need lots more people to create a strong film community. For example, I’d like there to be a film co-op in Portland, where filmmakers share gear, resources, ideas and projects. We don’t need a film industry to achieve that; we just need a film community. It can happen with a lot of hard work and a lot of passionate people.”



Dennis Perkins is a freelance writer who lives in Portland.


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