Getting started as a filmmaker can be a daunting task. The Sun Valley Film Festival’s Future Filmmakers Forum showcases student-made films and encourages students in their craft, storytelling and self-expression.

    The forum will be hosted at the Ford CineTransformer on Second Street, on Saturday, March 17, at 11 a.m. It is free and open to the public.

    This year’s forum celebrity guest will be actor and writer Ryan Spahn, whose screenwriting credits include the feature films “Woven,” “He’s Way More Famous Than You” and “Grantham & Rose.” He is a graduate of Interlochen Arts Academy and The Juilliard School.

    Spahn co-created the digital series “What’s Your Emergency” and has written and produced for Logo’s “Cocktails & Classics.” He co-created the original pilot “When I Was Your Age.” His play “Blessed and Highly Favored” received development workshops with the Martha’s Vineyard Playhouse, Athena Theatre, Hangar Theatre and Ensemble Studio Theatre. Spahn will appear in the upcoming revival of Tennessee Williams’ “Summer and Smoke” with the Transport Group.

    The Future Filmmakers Forum event includes a screening of student short films, a filmmaker reception and an awards ceremony. It provides a chance for participants to meet other filmmakers, learn from industry experts and show off their work. Two awards will be presented, the Hotshot Award for $1,000 and the Gabriel Spirit Award for $250.

    Former Community School video production specialist Peter Burke helps produce the forum.

    “For me, this project was spawned from a love of filmmaking and a passion for teaching,” Burke said. “I had the opportunity to engage students of all ages in video production and the art of filmmaking. During that time, I witnessed the ways in which filmmaking enforced the fundamentals of storytelling, which I personally feel is the purpose of art.”

     Burke said the forum acts as a boost toward professional filmmaking.

    “Students whose films are accepted are encouraged to attend the festival, network with fellow filmmakers and industry professionals, see and discuss each other’s work and live the festival life. It’s an incredible opportunity,” Burke said.

    The forum is sponsored by valley resident Bex Wilkinson and the Marshall Frankel Foundation. Wilkinson, former chairwoman of the film festival board, enlisted Burke five years ago.

“Film has become an accessible medium to almost all adolescents and teenagers through the invention of iPhones,” she said. “When the SVFF first started, they were showcasing local student films. I saw this and thought that perhaps I could help out in creating a formal platform for students to submit, be judged and show their films. Peter Burke and his work with students helped to bring the FFF to a new professional level.”

Burke said most, if not all, the previous Future Filmmakers Forum award winners are interacting with the art of filmmaking in one capacity or another.

    “Several have resubmitted and been selected to present at this year’s forum, including Jack and Will Nordstrom, while others have passed the age range allotted and are now studying film, in New York, Canada, California and elsewhere,” he said.

Email the writer: tevans@mtexpress.com

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