Supercon celebrates Miami’s film geeks
South Florida is flourishing with filmmakers telling Miami’s stories with a local perspective, from the Miami Film Festival, to the monthly screenings at Indie Film Club Miami, to the Miami Short Film Festival. Kurt Donath, director of the Florida Supercon Super Geek Film Festival (SGFF), is excited to join the movement by providing a special space for geeks of all kinds to rally together and enjoy some great local films in Miami Beach, starting this Thursday and continuing until Sunday.
“I think that it’s important to showcase people’s talents,” he said. “We have a lot of unique directors and actors coming in this year that are presenting something that is absolutely brand new to them — a project that they really, truly care about.”
Celebrating 10 years in Miami, the yearly Florida Supercon comic convention gives South Florida fans a chance to celebrate their nerdier interests, and the Super Geek Film Festival celebrates the convention’s mission by screening films with a focus on geek culture, science fiction, fantasy and more. It kicks off 2 p.m. Thursday and will run through Sunday night.
Though there have been a few film festivals at Supercon in the past, Donath became the official director two years ago and has built SGFF into a 4-day event filled with 50 films from a wide variety of genres that includes genres short films, web series, documentaries and feature films.
For him, the variety is what makes this festival stand out. Don’t expect this to focus on one specific style, since it embraces any and all forms of geekiness — be it a Doctor Who fan-film, a film noir, or comedy-horror throwbacks.
“I love doing a film festival that’s so broad it covers literally all things geek,” Donath said. “Even if you’re doing a genre that doesn’t sound geeky, stylistically, the way that somebody makes it or represents it could be extremely cool.”
The stories of local filmmakers were especially important to Donath. He reached out to Kevin Sharpley, the director of The Beach Chronicles, a pulp noir animated saga set in South Beach. Sharpley was excited that Supercon embraced the film, since it’s such “a Miami story.”
“What I love about Florida Supercon is it gives a platform for people in the genre of sci-fi, horror, and fantasy to express themselves on many different levels,” Sharpley said. “You can express yourself in cosplay … you can express yourself in the merchandise, you can express yourself in the storytelling platform of it.”
Doctor Who: The Soldier Stories is one of the web series being screened. It’s a fan-made spin-off of Doctor Who that imagines the iconic Time Lord as a soldier instead of a doctor. Donath was especially excited to screen it because it normally wouldn’t get into any film festivals for fear of copyright infringement. However, the series found a spot at SGFF, which caters to fan films and embraces celebrating fandoms. “We give them a voice where they wouldn’t have otherwise because someone would shut them down,” Donath said.
Actress Michele Boyd will star in upcoming episodes of the crowd-funded Doctor Who tribute and is attending Supercon to promote both The Soldier Stories and Geek Cred, a workplace comedy set in a comic book store. “Both of these projects were kind of built out of love for this type of universe, so other people appreciating it means everything,” she said.
SGFF will also be home to the world premiere of Caesar and Otto’s Paranormal Halloween, a film Donath describes as similar to “Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein,” because it’s the kind of comedy horror blend “nobody really makes anymore.”
Actor and director Dave Campfield has had a lifelong love of the comedy-horror genre, and he felt comfortable that SGFF understood the concept and the joke of his films, while admitting other festivals might “turn up their nose” and look for something that would be straight horror or straight comedy.
“I think that it’s wonderful that a festival can embrace not just the mainstream, multi-million dollar movies, but the smaller ones as well and promote all of this subculture and in such a positive way,” Campfield said.
For his second festival, Donath wanted to be more selective with the films that will be screened to provide more time in the spotlight for each director. This was important to him because he personally understands the challenges of being an independent filmmaker.
Where last year saw closer to 60 films, this year it’s down to 50, which will allow for filmmakers to have several screenings and a chance at reaching a larger audience.
In Campfield’s experience, some festivals are overcrowded and make filmmakers feel like “a granule of sand on the beach at that point. You’re stepped on and looked over.”
At Supercon, he’s hoping filmmakers will have a chance to share their stories. “There’s such a herculean effort from everybody involved,” Campfield said. “I think to get deeper with each of the individual filmmakers is going to allow deeper appreciation of the work that goes into just making one feature.”
Another key emphasis of the festival will be its panels. Mega blockbuster hits like “Jurassic World,” and the never-ending slew of superhero epics dominate the cinema with millions of dollars, leaving independent filmmakers questioning how to going to break into the business. Donath wants to address this and other questions about the film industry’s many perspectives through more than 50 panels and related events at the festival.
This includes an panels for actors, Florida filmmakers, short-films, composing music and animation. A visual effects and editing panel will be taught by Dean Lyon, celebrated visual effects supervisor of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, among others.
“We wanted to have it so that it encompasses all aspects of film,” Donath said. “With everything we were trying to do, we were trying to have a beginning 101 feel of getting into this industry at whichever level that you’re at.”
This article originally appeared in The New Tropic June 23, 2015.