Monday, May 16, 2011

AK Shorts (the films, not the pants)

Fireweed along road to Inuvik

Alaska's Public TV Short-Film Program

Fast fact:
AlaskaOne is a statewide public broadcasting station formed during the 1990s when stations in Bethel, Fairbanks, and Juneau combined to better serve public television viewers outside the South-Central region with 24-hour programming.

One of AlaskaOne's newer programs is "AK Shorts."

Designed to showcase the work of amateur Alaskan filmmakers, AK Shorts puts together half-hour episodes of short-films of any genre, including documentary, animation, and experimental.

There have been three episodes broadcast to date, with a fourth currently in the works.

At least one film showcased in the AK Shorts program has also found success outside of Alaska. "OUTspoken: Being Gay in Fairbanks, Alaska" by Alaskan filmmaker Kelly Gitter, is currently being screened at the Boston 27th Annual LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) Film Festival.

Recently, television producer Deb Lawton answered a few questions about AK Shorts. Based in Fairbanks where she works for station KUAC, Deb helps oversee programming and submissions for AK Shorts.


(Anyone got animation...)

Matt Shields: How long has AK Shorts been running?

Deb Lawton: We began seeking submissions about a year ago, and our first episode aired in late January. Episode three aired on May 2nd.

MS: What, or who, inspired the program?

Lawton: We were regularly receiving requests to air films produced by Alaskans and were frustrated by our inability to air them for a variety of reasons. AK Shorts was the result of a lot of internal discussion about how to overcome those issues preventing us from broadcasting many of the submissions we were receiving from Alaskans.

MS: What has the response been like?

Lawton: As with anything, it takes a while to establish a presence, and in this particular instance we are not shooting for any particular demographic, or genre, so that may muddy the waters a bit. We are truly interested in providing a venue for as broad a cross section of filmmakers out there.

Our first episode featured the shorts "Chuck Norris and the Chopsticks of Doom" by Tyler Williams. Will Bowman's "Apple Insanity," a music video, "Stumbling Upon A Dream," by Brian and Yelena Palmer, and Takashi Sakurai's "Where The River Begins," a documentary about an Alaska Native elder. Our second episode contained one longer film, "OUTspoken: Being Gay in Fairbanks, Alaska." [referenced in intro]

MS: Are you receiving submissions from all around the state?

Lawton: We have had submissions from around the state. Our last episode featured the work of young filmmakers from the village of Nikolai, Van Hanson of Sitka, and Marc Osborne of Ketchikan.

MS: Are you working with other film programs in Alaska? Such as "JUMP Society" in Juneau, or the recently formed "Open Projector Night" in Anchorage?

Lawton: Well, I've been aware of Pat Race and JUMP Society, and some of what they have been doing, and was excited to see them in [49th Films recent write-up on them]... But I don't really know much about those other programs. They sound interesting, and when you first mentioned them I started to think of ways something could be worked together with them in the future.

MS: Is there anything else you would like to add?

Lawton: I would really love to see more animation submissions! [hint]

(If you would like to submit your film please visit AK Shorts for submission guidelines. They would love to hear from you!)

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