Arts and Entertainment

A festival for filmmakers with ties to Bainbridge

Thirty-five years ago, in a much different Bainbridge Island, grassroots filmmaker Scott Taylor’s chums told him — you need to make another movie.

He and a group of friends had made one before — self-shot and produced — which Taylor said “brought down the house” at a 1973 house party. Now his friends were so into him making another that they were each willing to throw in $50 to make it happen.

On the spot, Taylor didn’t know what he would make the movie about until he was re-listening to an analog-recorded tape that he’d made of a six-minute-long joke at another 1970s Bainbridge soiree. He listened to it and laughed, listened again and laughed, and he said, “That’s the movie.”

His friends in turn laughed at him, but still offered support.

So the joke became the basis for this very hippie-ish movie — “Birth of Salesman” — about a guru leading his followers to ultimate wisdom, which turns out to be a joke in itself.

“We made it for $250,” Taylor said. “We didn’t really have to pay many of the production costs. My friend was a camera man at King TV at the time, and he would get these left over ends of the film, so we got free film and he shot it for us.”

The couple minutes of less-than-perfect, a bit-off-kilter audio, Taylor said, is paid off in full in the punchline.

Around the time of the film short’s “premiere” in 1977, it was awarded in a Seattle film festival and was shown for a duration at the city’s Harvard Exit Theatre.

It’s also part impetus and the complete essence of the Celluloid Bainbridge film festival.

So what’s the joke?

You’ve got to see the movie.

They show it every year at Celluloid Bainbridge, which, since 1998, has annually welcomed any and just about all films with some sort of connection to Bainbridge onto the big screen at the Lynwood Theatre, 4569 Lynwood Center Road.

It’s slated for 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m March 15 and 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. March 16 this year, free and by donation, replete with features, shorts and filmmakers’ forums.

It kicks of with BI filmmaker Charles Oliver, director of Take, talking about — The Independent Film from Start to Finish — at 10 a.m. Saturday.

Taylor will also be there, hyping up the latest project he’s a part of, a documentary called “Bainbridge in the Seventies.”

But back to “Birth of a Salesman” — it was the first of the films called to attention when the idea for Celluloid Bainbridge came about 10 years ago, organizer Kathleen Thorne said.

When the festival first took off, showing films in conjunction with the downtown district arts walk, it was cause for filmmakers and filmheads around Bainbridge to scavenge their archives for any movies they’d made, or knew of, with island connections.

“Now it’s become a reason for some them to make a film,” Thorne said.

Indeed, much has changed from the days when organizers would get films submitted in so many different formats that they’d have to change the projector from 16 mm, to VHS, to DVD in between films.

These days, it’s all DVD.

“Really we should probably be calling it DVD Bainbridge now instead of Celluloid,” Thorne said — celluloid, of course, meaning the transparent plastic made from camphor and nitrocellulose, used for making motion pictures.

The pictures in Celluloid Bainbridge have evolved as well, while the festival also relocated to its home at the Lynwood Theatre.

Throughout, Thorne said, the festival has featured diverse snapshots from the history of Bainbridge, as well as offered a chance for the community to congregate around these filmmakers and give response to their work.

And while that may not always be pleasant, its’ all-in-all just a good time, she added.

FILMMAKER FORUMS

Two years ago, Celluloid Bainbridge got a phone call from the National Endowment for the Arts Foundation offering a $10,000 grant. Festival organizers jumped at it and have used it in part to offer these free, first-hand Filmmaker Forums, in addition to their regular program, for anyone interested in making movies.

This year:

• 10 - 11 a.m., March 15 — Independent filmmaker Charles Oliver (director of “Take”) will describe The Independent Film from Start to Finish — conception to distribution — using his examples from his soon-to-be released movie.

• 10 a.m. to noon, March 16 — A three-person panel of attorneys from Seattle’s film industry will discuss Film and the Law — legal and financial issues concerning story rights, intellectual property issues, selling a script and more.

For a complete schedule of this year’s more than 20 films, visit the Bainbridge Arts and Humanities Website — www.artshum.org — and search “Celluloid Bainbridge.”

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