The dark theater lit up as the screen read, “First Timers,” the name of the first short film that was shown. The few minutes that it lasted, the room was full of giggles and out-right laughter.
Almost two-and-a-half hours later, “Poetry of Whispers,” ended the night with the audience in introspection.
Houston has a huge art scene. New murals are popping up, art shows are held often and theaters put on shows all the time. Yet, there’s one avenue of art that some Houstonians might be missing out on: film.
“I think Houston is very under-represented,” Sarah Kondrach said. “(Film is) here, but people don’t always know about it.”
Kondrach was a guest at “Powderkeg presents: A Film Festival III” last Friday night at Station Theater, 1230 Houston Ave. The festival featured 15 short films from Houston-based and international filmmakers. One of the films shown, “Tin Roof Rusted,” featured Kondrach’s husband, Brian, as a main character.
“I love how there are more film festivals and small theaters taking it up,” Kondrach said. “It exposes film to more people in the community.”
And that’s one of the reasons Conor Farrell and Cassie Randall, the co-founders of Powderkeg Productions, wanted to begin hosting film festivals.
Randall said the festivals allow people to experience a piece of what Houston filmmakers, writers and producers have to offer, from inspiring to funny short films.
“There’s a lot of different people in this community doing good stuff,” Randall said. “It’s not just New York and L.A.”
Aside from getting exposure of their work at the festivals, the teams that make the films also are able to expand their connections and network with other people in the same industry.
“Houston has a lot of art communities,” Farrell said. “If we can encourage new filmmakers from the school here with some of the professional teams we’ve met, but also encouraging those who do stage theater and other amateurs to do films, then it might be a good way to bring these communities together and build a larger scene.”
Carrie Grant, the writer and director of “Tin Roof Rusted,” didn’t go to school for the craft. But since she was a small girl, she has had an interest in filmmaking. A few years living in Los Angeles gave her inspiration to learn more about it.
Her short film centers around a couple finding out they’re going to have a baby and the happiness, as well as scariness, that comes from the news.
“I wanted to submit it to festivals and this is the first one that came up that I thought it was appropriate for,” Grant said.
The theme of this festival was love.
The first festival that Powderkeg hosted was in October of last year, and it was horror-themed. The next was in December, when there was a holiday theme.
While the festival has been hosted at two-month intervals, the plan is to have the next one in August or September.
“We want to give time for Houston-based filmmakers to be able to put something together and to submit,” Farrell said. “Films take a lot of time and they usually take pretty large teams.”
At the core of the festival is the desire to grow the film scene in Houston, to connect people and inspire people while having a good time.
“For Houston being the third-largest city in the country, we have the potential and the infrastructure to be great,” Kondrach said. “We just have to have these smaller shows keep pushing content and being noticed.”