The above was a header from a Film Festival Reporter newsletter highlighting shots from Hatchfest by Mark Sullivan..

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HatcHing New Filmmakers   

Montana’s First Annual HatcHFest focuses on mentoring . . .




photos by Mark Sullivan, custody of HatchFest




eemed a ‘Breath of Fresh Art’ by its planners, HAtcH Audiovisual Arts Festival was Bozeman’s first annual film fest.  Organizers were pleased with its overwhelming reception and see it as a success.  Their goal in the intense four-day festival that ran from September 9-12th was to focus on mentoring and birthing or ‘hatching’ new filmmakers.  The theory? . . . bring together promising young student artisans with veteran industry producers, screenwriters, directors, and cinematographers to showcase their work, let them really participate in sharing ideas and see what sizzles as a result!   


"That's what HatcH is all about," said Penny Ronning, HatcH’s CEO. "It's about making dreams come true."  


It was a first class event all the way.   It started with the premiere of Rick Schroder’s BLACK CLOUD at Bozeman’s historic Ellen Theatre and ended with a red carpeted gala affair complete with camera crews, spotlights, and screaming fans thrilled to get a passing glance at the many big Hollywood celebrities who came strolling down the red carpet.   Among the festival guest stars present were Rick Schroder, Jeff Bridges, Bill Pullman, John Dahl, Peter Fonda, Margot Kidder, and Michael Keaton.  All were there to help celebrate the success of Bozeman’s first festival.   In addition to other luminaries, they participated in the festival in varying capacities as hosts, jurors, panel members and as special guest speakers. 


“Incredible... Spiritual... Like Hollywood used to be.  It has changed my life.  I have new energy.” remarked Jim Brubaker, President of Universal Pictures.


This event had the largest convergence of top film industry professionals coming together to meet one-on-one with the top student talent from around the world.  It was a star-studded event for sure!    Even the concrete on Bozeman’s Main Street was drawn into the excitement of Hollywood fever with the placement of a new star in tribute to Director, John Dahl.   His star now resides in the space beside Peter Fonda's. 


Competitive films came from 20 student projects from various film schools across the globe and from every continent.  Awards were given for best editing, best screenplay, best cinematography and best direction.  The student director of SHOOTER, Todd Jeffery, stole the show by winning awards in three categories plus a $25,000 scholarship from Moonlight Basin.   Logan Schneider won the Best Cinematography Award for his work on ONE WAY OUT.  Brandy Vaughan was the recipient of Gibson Guitar’s New Musician Award.  

Actors Bill Pullman, Michael Keaton and Peter Fonda with hatchfest organizer,  leading a workshop for students.  

To support their on-going efforts of mentoring, the HatcH Labs were created to provide year-round workshops for new artists to learn from the best in their field. Organizers hope this collaborative effort will create a “change your life” type of experience for everyone involved.   True to the audiovisual in its name, HatcHFest showcased various forms of visual and audio arts via not only screenings, but also workshops, panel discussions, exhibitions, and music concerts.   In future years they plan to encompass an even broader range of artistic expression.   “We want HatcH to be a true boiling pot of the creative.,” says Festival Director, Brian Skuletich.

Among features screened were Mark Milgard's DANDELION and Cameron Lowe's part-fact, part-fiction right of passage story about the addiction to the magic of MUSHKA WATER.  

Actors Bill Pullman, Michael Keaton and Peter Fonda leading a workshop for students.

The festival included six out-of-competition features, and also featured selected films of, Pullman, Fonda, and Dahl, Schroder.   The festival had special screenings for the premiere of Curtiss Clayton's RICK starring Bill Pullman, John Dahl's THE GREAT RAID from Miramax and Peter Fonda’s films ULEE’S GOLD and THE HIRED HAND.

John Dahl's star on main Street

Schroder's directorial debut BLACK CLOUD, is a story of a talented young boxer on the journey of self discovery.    He finds his place in the world and discovers his true heart is within the boxing ring.  Schroder knew it was the lead character, Black Cloud who would carry the show and he was determined to find just the right actor.  He found that fit in Eddie Spears, a Lakota Sioux from South Dakota. “He’s perfect . . .  tough and handsome and he rides a horse like he is part of it,” Rick says.  Among Spears’ credits are a childhood role in GERINOMO, Hallmark’s DREAMKEEPER, and EDGE OF AMERICA shown at the Sundance festival last year.

Peter Fonda, a long time resident of Montana, was proud to be the first ever to receive the Gary Cooper Spirit of Montana Award which was presented to him by his good friend Jeff Bridges.   Fonda received the award for his many years of dedication helping young aspiring filmmakers.   The award’s stated purpose is to honor “those who have made a significant contribution to the arts and who actively encourage the dreams in the hearts of young artisans."   Local artisan from Ennis, Montana, David Lemon had the unique challenge to create the Gary Cooper bust from which the award was patterned.   He found the spirit of Cooper as elusive to recreate as it would be to "trying to grab smoke."

Another of the festival’s goals is talking about tax incentives.   "I think (the festival) will certainly help," Film Commission, Sten Iverson said. "Any attention from the industry and about the industry is good.  Film festivals are exciting.  This particular one has a big mentoring component, which is good for our film students. It's nice to see some celebrity support for the event as well."  

Since mentorship was the theme of the event, each artist gave their view of what the word meant to them.   “It’s a thing that an artist does to other artists so you’re not so lonely,” mused Pullman.  Bridges made it more serious.  Peter Fonda was the mentor that made the difference in his career.   The first time they met was just before Easy Rider became the success that launched the careers of Fonda, Hopper and Nicholson, explained Bridges in his own words.   Anyone there could see from the smile in his eyes, it’s been a tight student-mentor relationship ever since . . .  one that lasts a lifetime.

"Imagine a life without music, film, dance, or theatre.   Art is one of life's ingredients that stirs our souls and brings us together, breaking all cultural boundaries.”, declares the organizers in their website’s Executive Statement. “HatcH is a celebration of the artistic process that transforms the everyday into the spectacular. But most of all, it's about supporting dreams, and injecting creative innovators back into our society."


SHIRL A. STEWARD, a resident of Seattle, New Mexico, was a staff writer and managing editor for the Film Festival Reporter and worked for the New Mexican in Santa Fe.  In public relations since age 17, she is a children’s writer, a journalist and is now working on several novels and screenplays.

All above photos are © by photographer, Mark Sullivan, used by custody of HatchFest.  Copying or use of these photos without their expressed consent is prohibited.

© September, 2004.


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