Film festival helps to fund productions by Eastern Oregon artists

(123RF)

The Eastern Oregon Film Festival works to help artists gain the exposure that is often needed to further their careers — from choosing local bands to play at the festival’s after-parties to contributing to the funding of projects created by filmmakers who are in the area. This year’s festival included a special screening of “Hold onto the Moving Sky,” a work that the EOFF Filmmaker Support Project Fund helped create. The film was directed by Benjamin Morgan, co-founder of EOFF. After the event, J.J. Hill and Liberty O’Dell introduced the next project to be supported by the fund, “Out of Character.”

Morgan’s movie is based on his wife, La Grande native ­Jocelyn Berado, and the journey she took in dealing with an unexpected pregnancy and an apathetic boyfriend. The film, which features no dialogue, depends on its actors to tell the story through their physicality and emotion. When Jocelyn’s character decides to leave her boyfriend to return home, she does so without a word between the two.

“As we were talking through the story we realized the moment where they’re looking at each other down the hall, the worst thing he could do in that moment is say something,” Morgan said. “It shows the power of apathy and the power of self-love, which are two things that don’t require dialogue,”

Jocelyn said playing the role of herself was healing, and it was a way to have more compassion and closure around the situation. Berado and Morgan co-wrote the piece together and through funding from EOFF and a kickstarter were able to collaborate on a project that is very close to their hearts.

“Having that funding gave us a good financial backing,” Morgan said. “Logistically it gave us a good structural foundation. And it gives access to other filmmakers.”

The next project to emerge from EOFF funding will be a fantasy documentary by La Grande locals Hill and O’Dell.

The movie will document an event that never happened, based off a fictional app that showcases real stories, according to the filmmakers. The film documents five days of a live action role play event and follows six characters who are fighting for the $10,000 reward.

The film will take place in Eastern Oregon, and the team is having an open call for extras in November, with filming planned to take place March through June.

“As new filmmakers we realized this project was so much bigger than us,” Hill said. “A driving force, other than the story idea, was to showcase the community of Eastern Oregon and the talent in the area.”

The film festival, along with personal donations will help with the $50,000 needed to fund the project. Though most of the location logistics have been sorted, the team is still looking for those who would like to support their film.

“The film festival is the foundation for the project,” Hill said. “We realized that our goals lined up perfectly with EOFF.”

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