Spotlight on Kentucky Filmmakers
Reel Visions is a KET series of half-hour programs featuring several short films that have been produced, directed, written or edited by Kentucky filmmakers. Series producers are Sara O'Keefe, Allison NeCamp, Clark Bradshaw, and Ben Allen; executive producer is Teresa Day.
Reel Visions TV schedule | Watch Videos | Reel Visions Home
(“Fried Apple Pies” | “Middle Ground” | “Kingdom Come Stir Off“ | “Carrie Jean Wells“)
Lexington native Natalie Baxter received her BA in video art from the University of the South in Sewanee, Tenn. She gained a love for documentary work when given the opportunity to work on a film in Trenchtown, Jamaica.
Natalie later moved to Montana where she became fascinated with Native American pow-wow culture and continued to create documentary work while teaching art classes and working with the Bozeman Film Festival. She returned to the Bluegrass to attend the University of Kentucky’s MFA program where she has taken a focus on her family roots in Eastern Kentucky.
Robert Beatty (“The Appearants”)
Robert Beatty is a self taught artist and musician born in Lexington, Ky., where he still lives and works. He has been the art director at WRFL 88.1 FM in Lexington since 2005 and has played music across the United States, Europe, and China, with Hair Police, Burning Star Core, and his solo project Three Legged Race.
In 2009 Beatty and several collaborators started Resonant Hole, a collective music/video group exploring alternate reality musical universes through spontaneous collaboration, dream logic, and chance processes. The Appearants' “Weeding the Garden” is a product of the Resonant Hole.
Ben Burke (“Four Years Later”)
Ben is a native of Lexington, Ky., and a lifelong student of the motion picture. Ben has worked for Hollywood, Bollywood, and countless Independent productions. Recently, Ben has produced two feature films in the Central Kentucky area.
Robin Burke (“Living Lightly”)
Robin moved to Kentucky in 1982 with big dreams of working at The Kentucky Center for the Arts in Louisville. Eventually, she was hired as production coordinator for the Center. Opening night and hundreds of shows during that premiere season were heady times and life changing. ABC News arrived for the Mondale-Reagan presidential debate and this was her introduction to motion pictures. She was hired to go on the road with ABC News Special Events for the election season and so began her career in broadcast, which ultimately led to independent filmmaking.
Storytelling and collaboration are Robin’s motivators when making a film. Food and music are her subjects of choice. Although she travels quite a bit working on projects in many locales, she always comes home to Kentucky. Robin says of Kentucky’s filmmakers, "Our community of filmmakers has been my family and support for the past 20 years. We are a hard working, compassionate bunch and live in one of the most beautiful and congenial places on the planet making it the perfect environment to support and grow our filmmaking industry.”
Peter Cook (“Within”)
“Within” is the first collaborative film for filmmakers Peter V. Cook, Josh Hunt, Laura Hunt, and Jason Parmer, all graduates of Asbury University’s Media Communication program.
The filmmakers spend their typical 9 - 5 schedules on client work: Peter (Producer) for Cornett IMS, Laura (Director) and Josh (Sound Designer) for their company Hightone Studios, and Jason (Cinematographer) for his company Apparel Studios.
“Within” also brought two new members to the Kentucky film scene, Heend Sheth (Starring) and Lance Melancon (Sound and Story).
Clint Davis (“The Sea is My Brother” | “Unquiet”)
University of Kentucky graduate and Carrollton, Ky., native Clint Davis has a bachelor's degree in piano performance and an interest in connecting his creative interests in musical and visual arts. Davis began graduate studies (fall 2009) at the University of California at San Diego, intending to explore new techniques and practices in multi-media and installation-based arts. His contribution to this series represents his first attempts to exhibit his artistic vision through short filmmaking.
Bonnie M. Duncan (“Critical Timing”)
Bonnie M. Duncan currently teaches second grade at Stephens Elementary, the largest elementary school in Kentucky. She studied oil painting with Annaliesa Wahrenburg of Walton, Ky., and abstract acrylics at the Baker Hunt Foundation in Covington, Ky. Duncan earned a bachelor's degree in elementary education with a middle school language arts endorsement from Northern Kentucky University. She also earned a master's degree at NKU.
A native Kentuckian, she loves every aspect of Kentucky living and hopes to convey her sense of the Bluegrass through her artistic vision.
Jen Edwards (“Weekend at 3's”)
Jen Edwards follows her creative impulses as a member of an artists' collaborative called Love Ewe Films in Louisville. For this film, she helped design and animate the figures, as well as participate in the randomized fight sequence setup: each fight's winner was decided before filming by rolling a 20-sided die.
John Fitch III (“The Tie” | “Dog te Ching” | “The Library”)
John Fitch III grew up in rural Jessamine County and in Wilmore, Ky. He has worked for 12 years in the television and music recording industries and has been making films since 2000. With a bachelor's degree from Asbury College and an MFA from Savannah College of Art and Design, he currently teaches film and video production, cinema history, and screen writing at Eastern Kentucky University.
Josh Flowers (“Fast Love” | “Heart” | “Still Life” | “Robot Love” | “Questionable Taste” | “Exploded” | “Bubbly”)
Josh Flowers has lived in Kentucky for most of his life and says he has “done most of the Kentucky things that Kentucky people should do.” He has “been to the state capitol, eaten at the original KFC, toured Mammoth Cave, and has even ridden a horse, but not well.”
Since 2004 Flowers has made almost 40 short films. Several of his films have been featured on YouTube and CNN Headline News. His work has also been screened at the South by Southwest Festival in Austin, Texas, and at the Cannes Film Festival in France. Flowers shot most of his videos in Kentucky. He plans to continue making short films because “he couldn't stop even if he wanted to.”
Ed Franklin, Jeffery Scott Horn, and Althea Wiggs (“Un Hijo de Cualquier Madre es un Demonio”)
Ed Franklin has lived in Kentucky for 20 years and spends a good bit of his time making little wooden toys and dolls. Sometimes he places them around downtown Lexington for people to find and keep.
Jeffery Scott Horn is in love with Brigit Nilsson, mathematics, and launching cameras into space. Someday he will be an astronaut and launch himself into space.
Althea Wiggs believes in crossing borders, exploring movement, and merging timeless expressions of longing and playfulness. She loves to adventure with her daughter Ruby. Together these three creative minds comprise an integral part of Sadade (sow-dahd-gee), an ongoing collective artistic experiment. Doll Piece is their first attempt in stop motion animation.
Heather Freeman (“Pennipotens”)
Heather D. Freeman is assistant professor of digital media at the University of North Carolina – Charlotte, where she teaches digital print, animation, video, installation, and drawing. She grew in Skillman, N. J., and was heavily influenced by her parents' careers in the sciences. She holds a BA in Fine Art and German Studies from Oberlin College and an MFA in Studio Art from Rutgers University. Previously, Freeman worked as an art director, graphic designer, editor, and animator in New York and New Jersey. She also taught art, graphic design, and visual rhetoric at various institutions, including the University of Kentucky and Clemson University. Her work is regularly exhibited regionally and nationally and has appeared in international exhibitions in Australia, Canada, China, Cuba, Germany, Hungary, New Zealand, Sweden, and Thailand. More of her work can be viewed at www.EpicAnt.com.
J. Gray (“Fuel” | “Cambodia”)
JGray was born and raised in Northern Kentucky. He studied music for 15 years; primarily concert saxophone and guitar. In 2000, he traveled across Europe for three months, which inspired a switch to the visual arts; photography and video. Becoming interested in digital manipulation, he picked up a job as a Photoshop artist and began showing multimedia prints in art galleries. In 2007, he began traveling to Thailand. To date he has spent seven months in Thailand, including side trips into China and Cambodia. He is presently finishing a BFA in New Media art at Northern Kentucky University.
For JGray, video is the perfect compliment of sound and visual art. Travel is his passion and inspiration for creativity. He is more interested in learning from far cultures than trying to affect them; an anti-missionary. His work interests are in innovation of medium and exploration of existence. He is most influenced by Realism, Expressionism, environmentalism, animal liberation, technology and adventure. He currently lives in his 100 year old home in Mainstrasse Village, Covington, Kentucky.
Justin Hannah (“Do it Yourself”)
Justin Hannah is a filmmaker, writer, and artist originally from Paintsville, Ky., who now lives in Lexington. Justin's lifelong passion for the visual arts and interest in human behavior led him to fill dozens of sketchbooks, pursue a degree in psychology (with a minor in art), and bring the two together by making films.
More information on Justin's films can be found on his website.
Travis Jones (“Dog Days” | “26th Step”)
Travis Jones is a native Lexingtonian and graduate of Sayre School. He earned a bachelor's degree in film from Southern Methodist University and later attended the American Film Institute in Los Angeles. He also completed an eight-week directing workshop at the New York Film Academy in New York City. In Los Angeles, Travis worked as an editor for E! Networks and The Weinstein Company and also completed a few short films, including “Dog Days.”
In 2006, Jones returned to Lexington to direct a documentary entitled “Pat Smith's Habitat Dream.” The film, which premiered at The Kentucky Theatre in February of 2007, focused on the life of Pat Smith -- a victim of the 2006 ComAir Flight 5191 crash -- and his work with Habitat for Humanity.
Travis is currently writing a feature-length script, and “hopes to benefit from Kentucky's newly-passed incentives for film production in the near future.”
Brad McCombs (“TA Tundra”)
Brad McCombs lives in Fort Thomas, Ky. and teaches at Northern Kentucky University as the Schiff Professor of Art.
McCombs' comprehensive role as an artist embraces activism, anthropology, ecology, and sociology. He uses a broad range of materials and works with many mediums including computer graphics, film, and video, enabling him to fully realize his conceptually driven works, weaving cross-cultural and interdisciplinary elements into a cohesive web.
McCombs has exhibited his work at the Gallery Project (Ann Arbor, Mich.), The Lab (San Francisco), Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions, The Mockbee (Cincinnati), SPACELab (Cleveland), The Carnegie (Covington, Ky.), Nukuyawani Outpost (Ngau, Fiji Islands), the International Arts Festival (Chania, Greece), Cité Internationale des Arts (Paris); created a public artwork with the Seattle Arts Commission (Seattle); and held solo exhibitions at Hanover College (Hanover, Ind.) and the Urban Institute of Contemporary Art (Grand Rapids).
Kip McGinnis (“Bettye Brookfield”)
Kip McGinnis, a Huntington, W. Va., native and former banker, moved to Bardstown, Ky., 15 years ago. Kip is a graduate of Marshall University with Bachelor of Business Administration degrees in finance and marketing, and he later completed graduate banking courses at Northwestern University and the University of Massachusetts. Kip was a banker for a number of years, serving in the capacity of vice president of mortgage lending, advertising, public relations, and Community Reinvestment Act compliance.
In his early years, he had formal training on classical piano, which eventually led to him learning and mastering quite a few instruments. His primary music interest is traditional jazz in addition to various international music styles. Since he left the bank 20 years ago, Kip has learned and mastered many other skills related to the arts, film production, still photography, audio engineering, internet radio broadcasting, and computer technology. For years, Kip has been a developer of high-end music instrument software and is recognized worldwide as being one of the leading music instrument sound developers. Kip was also a third party software developer for Apple and Logic Studio.
Currently, Kip is producing and directing the film series Portraits of Kentucky Artists, which features several professional artists in the central Kentucky area. Kip has collaborated with Bettye Brookfield on this project. Bettye is one of the artists featured in this series and is chairman of the fine arts department at St. Catharine College in Springfield, Ky.
Kip's production company is Vintage Moods Productions, located in Bardstown, Ky. In all of his films, Kip features the music that he produces and plays. A link to Kip's internet jazz radio station can be found on the Vintage Moods Productions website.
Steven Middleton (“Fire in the Mountains” | “Zen Furnace” | “Tobaccolachia”)
Steven Middleton lives in Morehead, Ky., where he teaches Mass Communications at Morehead State University. An educator and documentarian of Appalachian culture, Middleton focuses on the obscure and vanishing traditions and arts of Appalachia.
Middleton's film “Fire in the Mountains” Won best short film at the 2010 Appalachian Film Festival.
Jeremy Midkiff (“City Center Design Contest: 2011”)
Owensboro, Ky., native Jeremy Midkiff moved to Lexington in 1995 to attend the University of Kentucky, where he earned a bachelor's degree in Telecommunications. He worked as a camera operator for GTV-3 (Lexington's version of C-SPAN) for seven years, helping produce a few projects as well.
Midkiff has written four feature-length scripts and hopes to produce one of them in the spring of 2010. He has also been one of the leaders of the band Big Fresh for 12 years and has a strong interest in music videos and the use of music in films.
“City Center Design Contest: 2011” is Jeremy's most recent short film - a dark comedy about a delusional man who wants to be the architect for the CentrePoint site in Lexington. He is currently working on a short film called “The Leave.” It focuses on a troubled soldier and his mad scientist cousin.
David Meyers (Wood Diary)
Kentucky native David Edwin Meyers' talents were recognized early. In high school, he was selected to participate in a federally-funded program for the gifted and talented in visual and performing Arts. He attended the prestigious Ringling School of Art and Design in Sarasota, Fla., studying painting, graphic design, and illustration. After working for several years, he returned to school and graduated with a master of fine arts degree from Syracuse University.
Meyers' paintings, drawings, and photographs can be found in private and corporate collections throughout the Midwest, and he has accumulated more than 125 awards in commercial and fine art.
As a pioneer in new media, he has provided creative direction and new media design for prestigious clients including Paul McCartney, The Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, The Emmys, Ally McBeal, The Grand Ole Opry, Microsoft, Hewlett Packard, Spalding Sports and more. He has also taught at three universities, training and preparing more than 500 students in the field of new media.
“Wood Diary” is his first attempt at filmmaking, and combines his interests and experience in digital film, fine art, music and new media.
Bruce Parsons (“Drawing Between the Lines” | “Varroa” | “I Know You”)
Filmmaker Bruce Parsons teaches at Appalshop, a non-profit media arts organization in Whitesburg, Ky. He has been making films about life in central Appalachia for 40 years and intends to continue making films in the region. Parsons is a graduate of the Ohio University School of Film.
Parsons is currently working on a feature-length narrative about children chasing whales in Lake Michigan, as well as co-directing a documentary titled “Dirt” with Appalshop filmmaker Natasha Watts.
Patti Logsdon Parsons (“The Braves”)
Patti Logsdon Parsons is a Lexington native who returned home in 1998 after 16 years' absence. She has worked as a city planner, graphic designer, stay-at-home mom, entrepreneur, and currently juggles her time between filmmaking and event planning.
In December 2009, Patti completed the Filmmaking Certificate Program at Bluegrass Community and Technical College. When asked why she wanted to be a filmmaker Patti replied, “I’ve got a lot of stories that need telling.”
Evan Peters (“The Poster”)
Louisville native Evan Peters' contribution to the Reel Visions lineup reveals his interest in creating “fun films” that draw upon classic Hollywood genres (action, horror, science fiction, mystery) while developing a style all his own. Evan's work includes two short films “The Poster“ and “Wheelchair Defender“ as well as a third in production, “Monsterville,“ his first monster movie. He has a background in production on numerous independent films, promotional videos, and other projects, and his career in film continues to expand and develop. Learn more at www.hithereproductions.com. He currently lives in Colorado.
Kris Rommel (“Balance” | “Last Winter” | “Book Bindings: Part Deux”)
Kristofer Allen Rommel was born in Williamsport, PA and moved to Louisville, Kentucky at the age of five. His interest in film making began when on a family road trip to Florida the summer before entering High School when he read an article in Premiere Magazine on the making of “Terminator 2”. Having always been an avid movie watcher, this was the first time making movies seemed like a viable career choice. Since his High School did not have an A/V or film class or club, Kristofer decided to dive into the world of Theater. He was assistant and tech director on numerous plays and starred in two.
After High School Kristofer studied theater at Murray State. It was there he and two other friends started The Bob Rogers Group, a production company that produced one-act plays and short films.
In 2000, after spending time in North Carolina, Texas and Florida, he produced and directed his first feature film Road Signs: The Movie. After submitting the film to a few festivals he returned to Kentucky where he expanded the production company, producing several local television shows, short films, and commercial work. Through the Bob Rogers Group, Kristofer also is involved in the Kentucky independent film movement and helps sponsor numerous film events and festivals in Louisville.
Bill Santen (“Portrait Studies”)
Bill Santen creates short films for gallery exhibitions and occasional film festivals. He has been working on 16 mm film for several years while attending the University of Kentucky, and intends to continue his pursuits in visual and sculptural arts at Columbia University's School of the Arts. He recently finished a relief sculpture mural of imaginary animals at Kentucky Children's Hospital.
Angela Shoemaker (“A Place to Call Home”)
Kentucky native Angela Shoemaker earned her BFA degree in 2-D design (with a focus in photography) from the University of Louisville. She's now working toward her master's degree in photography from Ohio University in the School of Visual Communication.
Angela began her photography career as a freelance photographer for several local publications including The Courier-Journal, The Lexington Herald-Leader, Louisville Magazine, and LEO Magazine. Her online portfolio is at www.angelashoemaker.com
Thom Southerland (“Holidays” | “Fourteen” | “Last Glimpse”)
Thom Southerland is a graduate of the University of Kentucky and the American Film Institute. His short films have played at festivals throughout the country. He's written and directed three feature films, numerous shorts and several documentaries. He's proud to be a Kentucky filmmaker.
Kathryn Spivey (“Backwards Compatible” | “Poor Fortunates, Act 1”)
Kathryn Spivey, a maker of things since her early childhood in Jackson, Miss., created her first puppet in 2005. Soon after that, she moved to Louisville to volunteer with the Squallis puppeteers, a group of independent artists specializing in the creation of puppets and puppet theatre.
Spivey's experiences in this creative community helped her develop story-writing skills, learn methods of puppet and scenery construction, and direct films and live performances.
“Puppetry is fun. I like to see what happens when I dress ordinary objects up with paint, papier mache, and glue to become interesting characters, coral reefs, factories, and planets. It has an element of magic in it.”
Today, Kathryn serves on the board of Squallis Puppeteers and continues building little worlds for new audiences.
Colin Spoelman (“Coming Down the Mountain”)
Colin Spoelman is a screenwriter, director, and producer from Harlan, Ky. He wrote and produced “Coming Down the Mountain,” which premiered at the Clermont-Ferrand International Short Film Festival in France before playing at more than 30 festivals worldwide, including Cork (Ireland), Florida, Asheville, Hamptons, and the San Francisco IndieFest.
His script, “Leaving Harlan Alive” —a political thriller dealing with coal mining in his native Appalachia— was selected for the Emerging Narrative section of Independent Film Week 2008. Colin was executive producer for “I Love Your Work,” which premiered at Toronto and was released by THINKFilm; and “(Un)Safe,” a short dealing with domestic violence, produced with fellow Kentuckian Anna Richardson. He recently finished his first novel and is co-founder of New York City’s first whiskey distillery since prohibition. He currently lives in Brooklyn.
Chad Stockfleth (“Lauren Argo-21C”)
Chad was born in Indiana and grew up in central Kentucky. He attended film school in Florida and has been making videos to promote local musicians and artists ever since. Chad is also the director of photography and head of production for Videobred in Louisville—the oldest and largest production company in the state.
Travis Taylor (“Do it Yourself”)
Travis lives in Lexington, Ky., and works as a multimedia artist and videographer for a web-based news organization and plays with his band theMiDDLEfork.
You can learn more about Travis' work on his website.
Bently Tittle (“Brand New You”)
Bently Tittle grew up in Henderson, Ky., and was drawn to filmmaking via Henderson County High School's Gifted and Talented Arts program, where he created his first short films and documentaries.
Tittle graduated from Western Kentucky University with a degree in film and television. He now lives in Los Angeles where he works as a writer/producer/director on music videos, commercials, television shows, and both short and feature-length films.
Sarah Wylie Ammerman Smith Van Meter (“Spread” | “Wires and Birds” | “Building”)
In addition to short videos, Sarah Wylie Ammerman (a graduate of San Francisco Art Institute's MFA program in filmmaking) creates feature-length narratives, documentary features and shorts, music environs, and gallery-fit sculptural projections.
She has a “fervor for collaboration above all else and therefore finds herself in different situations depending on the mind she's next to at any given time.” The films shown in this series are collaborations with Lexington-based musician Jason Corder (offthesky.com).
Nicholas Cartwright (“Arcadian Carnage”) J. Gray (“Fuel”) Tom Robinson (“Experiments in the Revival of Organisms”) William Talbert (“Metastasis” | “Fullerene”) Amy Trivisonno (“Milk and Honey”)
Northern Kentucky University students Nicholas Cartwright, J. Gray, Tom Robinson, William Talbert, and Amy Trivisonno followed their interests in filmmaking through NKU's New Media Art program. The program teaches students the techniques and principles of electronic art, robotic art, installation, and/or experimental video. Teachers utilize the benefits of modern media and technology. One of their professors, Brad McCombs, is also a noted filmmaker whose work is featured on Reel Visions. The films submitted by Cartwright, Gray, Robinson, Talbert, and Trivisonno represent some of their student work at NKU.
Damon the Hafling (Written by Les Holland and Devon Wallace, Animated by Kelli Burton, Andrew English, Bryan Jackson)
“Damon the Hafling” is a concept film realized through the animation talents of Kelli Burton, Andrew English, and Bryan Jackson. However, the heart and soul of this animation remains the work of two eleven-year-old boys from Louisville.
Here's the story: Kelli Burton received a random and mysterious package. The contents included an idea for a new cartoon, a fully written script, pages and pages of illustrations of characters and sets, and lyrics to a theme song. Also enclosed in the package was a letter from Les Holland and Devon Wallace who wrote: “Thank you for considering our cartoon show.” The group of animators took the materials they had been given and produced “Damon the Hafling,” an enjoyable animated short that demonstrates the creative energy of artistic collaboration.