Producer Martina Webster believes Arizona has the potential to rival Hollywood.
“It’s exciting for me to be at the beginning of it,” the Southern California resident says. “Think about what it would be like to have been there at the beginning stages of Hollywood and how exciting it must have been.”
Webster has made it her mission to support the Arizona film industry while bringing awareness of filmmakers from other parts of the country. To do so, she founded the Show Low International Film Festival.
The event will showcase indie films from Friday, October 17, to Sunday, October 20, at the WME Theater for the second year. More than a screening, the festival allows the audience to meet the folks behind the films and gives directors the education they need to succeed.
“Everybody needs to go at least once because you have this wonderful chance of seeing the movies, unrated and the different genres,” Webster says. “There’s a lot of them that are short, which is a unique experience because you can walk away hoping they make it into a feature film.”
Webster says Show Low is the ideal place for the festival. She discovered the city north of Pinetop when she was scouting out areas for retirement. She has since delved into Arizona’s film industry and met Matthew Earl Jones, who runs the Arizona film office. He’s also the half-brother of James Earl Jones (“The Lion King” and “Star Wars”).
“We had a lot of good talks and I decided that I really wanted to help the Arizona film industry develop more and, in order to do so, we need to attract other filmmakers to the area,” Webster says.
Webster knows movie fans enjoy meeting the faces behind the films. She makes the creative folks available.
“On Saturday, we have what’s called a red-carpet premiere and the audience has the chance to take pictures with them,” Webster says.
“We request that the accepted filmmakers will actually be there because for the film-goer, that gives them the unique opportunity to actually speak to the people that created the film and ask questions directly.”
Webster’s goal is to not only expose the public to new filmmakers, but to host workshops for those in the business.
“We have a workshop about entertainment law. One of my friends who’s an entertainment lawyer in Los Angeles donated his time to come down and give a one-hour talk,” Webster says. “For me, that’s important because they (filmmakers) make this beautiful film, but if they don’t have that legal side wrapped up, they can never sell it.”
“We have an Arizona filmmaker and lighting professional that’s doing a workshop on how to light things with different moods.”
Other workshops include “What are Producers Looking For?” “Is My Movie Sellable?” and “Stunts in Film.”
In addition, investors will be on hand.
“I’m super excited because at this festival, we’re actually going to have three buyers present at the film festival, which is a huge thing for the filmmakers,” Webster says.
When Webster chooses the films, she isn’t seeking a specific genre. She prides herself on finding hidden gems that the audience will enjoy.
“I absolutely love having the filmmakers are there and seeing their faces when they see their film, maybe for the first time, on a big screen,” Webster says.
After Webster moves to Show Low, she will continue to focus on promoting and developing Arizona’s film industry. She hopes the state will someday gain recognition for its talents.
She also wants people to know that the purpose of the Show Low International Film Festival, is purely for the benefit of the art.
“I want people to know that everyone involved in the film festival is genuine,” Webster says. “It’s not just a money-making project, but that we truly care and that my personal mission is to help the film industry in Arizona.”
Show Low International Film Festival
WME Theaters, 1850 S. White Mountain Road, Show Low, bit.ly/2lHzIqY, various times Friday, October 17, to Sunday, October 20, various pricing.