Local filmmakers gear up for Easton festival Saturday

Sky Gidge

Oliver Ames High School graduate Katelyn Alves didn’t think making her short film “Masterminds” would be so hard.

First, a camera broke and she lost hours of footage, then the editing was made more difficult because people kept walking into the scenes and, finally, when the project was due for class, it wouldn’t transfer onto DVD.

“Nothing about this movie actually went right. Not the production or anything,” said Alves, 18, of Easton.

Despite only being able to submit a few scenes to her class, Alves finished the comedy, which is about four students who do everything they can to get a good grade on an essay. She submitted it to the Hockomock Film Festival.

Alves and other local filmmakers are looking forward to the festival’s award ceremony, at 5 p.m. Saturday at the Martin Center at Stonehill College in Easton.

The film festival, which has expanded beyond Easton to include several other area towns, comes amid a booming movie industry in Massachusetts.

Since 2006, when tax incentives were passed to encourage more movie-making in Massachusetts, Hollywood producers have been flocking to the Bay State to take advantage of those financial benefits — as well as the abundant historical and scenic locales.

Local projects have included a Martin Scorsese movie with scenes filmed in Taunton and Easton and the movie, “The Surrogates,” starring Bruce Willis, also being filmed in Taunton. Also, there are plans in the works to build major movie studios in Plymouth and Weymouth.

For Saturday’s film festival, Edwin Saladin, 18, of Stoughton, made a biographical film called “Life of a Basketball Player.” Saladin is number 21 on the basketball team at Stoughton High School.

In the film, he talks about the challenges of balancing school and basketball, the basketball game he remembers best and what the sport means in his life.

“Everything on that tape is honest,” he said.

The Hockomock Film Festival is designed to foster that kind of amateur movie-making in the area, said festival president Bill Ames, 64, of North Easton.

“I just like to see the energy and the creativity that goes into these things,” said Ames. “Everybody has got a story, the people who are doing these things are artists.”

Anyone who lives in the Hockomock festival towns is allowed to enter films into the event, no matter where the movies were made. Most of the films entered are made by high school students who have no formal training in film and are making the movies for a class.

Three categories of films were accepted this year: drama, music video, documentary.

Festival sponsor North Easton Savings Bank provides the prize money. First place in any category is a $500 prize; second place is a $300 prize.

Everyone who submits a movie gets specific advice about how to make a better movie from the five film festival judges.

The judges range from Ames, a self-described “hobbyist” who has been making films since the 1970s, to Gino Del Guercio, a documentary producer who won the Best Science Documentary of the Year award in 2001 from the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

“The goal is to recognize local filmmakers who are making films and encourage them and teach them how to do it better,” said Guercio.

Before the awards are given out during the ceremony on Saturday, the festival’s judges will hold a seminar at noon analyzing the technical aspects of the films that were submitted and giving advice to aspiring film makers.

Movie screenings will begin at 3 p.m.

According to Ames, about 200 films have been entered since the first festival in 2002, with about 140 of them by Oliver Ames High School students.

Oliver Ames graduate Jon Cortizo, 19, won “Best in Show” last year.

The judges then helped Cortizo submit his film, “The Escape,” a drama about an eighth-grader “escaping” from school, to several larger film contests. It won the award of excellence for New England from the National Television Academy.

The Hockomock Film Festival, originally known as the Easton Film Festival and open only to Easton residents, expanded in 2006 to include Canton, Foxboro, Franklin, Mansfield, Norfolk, North Attleboro, Plainville, Sharon, Stoughton and Wrentham.