DocFest Chronicles: A Filmmaker’s Perspective on Celebrating Local Stories

DocFest Chronicles: A Filmmaker’s Perspective on Celebrating Local Stories

 A Journey in Documentary Filmmaking


For over 15 years, my passion for storytelling has found its voice in the world of documentaries. From college short films to TV series and now, the 2024 Doc Fest, my filmmaking journey has been a tapestry of experiences. In this blog post, I share insights into my documentary, “The Local,” the vibrant Belleville Downtown District, and the exciting partnership between Doc Fest and the BIA during the 20th annual Savour the Chill event.


The Local: Transforming Red Lion Pub into Community Gold


“The Local” is a testament to the power of transformation. It follows a group’s three-year journey as they renovate the Red Lion Pub, now known as The Local. The film’s core message resonates with the belief that it’s never too late for positive change – not for a town, a building, or an individual. The key, as the documentary suggests, lies in perseverance and surrounding oneself with good people.


Belleville Downtown District: A Canvas of Endless Stories


Downtown Belleville is more than just a setting for my documentary; it’s a personal connection. It’s where I work, where my clients live and work, and a canvas of endless stories waiting to be told. From casting a line in the river during lunch breaks to capturing the pulse of the community, Downtown Belleville is a treasure trove of tales.


Savour the Chill Partnership: A Deeper Dive into DocFest


This year, Doc Fest is set to amplify its impact by partnering with the Belleville Downtown District’s BIA during the 20th annual Savour the Chill event. This collaboration not only enhances the festival experience but also allows attendees to get a deeper look into the intricacies of DocFest and the local film scene.


Contributing to Diversity: The Lighthearted Approach


“The Local” adds a lighthearted touch to the diverse stories showcased at Doc Fest. While documentaries often delve into hard-hitting subjects, our film, akin to last year’s “Full,” aims to balance the playing field by offering a fun and uplifting narrative.


Filming in Belleville: A Dream Come True

Filming in the city where you work, where store owners are familiar faces, is a dream for any filmmaker. The intimate knowledge of the community allows for seamless shots without compromising the essence of the story. Filming in a small city doubles the budgetary advantages, creating a unique and enriching experience.


Behind-the-Scenes Magic: From Demolition to Illuminated Rubble


One of the many behind-the-scenes moments that stand out is the key to the bar given by Tim, one of the owners. After the demolition, we set up in the bar at night, witnessing the light from passing cars illuminate the rubble pile on the floor. It was an eerie yet rewarding experience that added depth to the final product.


Audience Takeaway: A Modest Hope for Joy


Our hope for “The Local” is modest – we want people to watch it and have fun. While inspiring others to embark on similar projects is a welcome outcome, the primary goal is to bring joy to the audience and make them happy about the positive changes happening in their community.


DocFest: A Champion for Local Filmmakers


DocFest has always been a staunch supporter of local filmmaking. Beyond the dazzling shows, the festival pays every filmmaker, including those with short films. This support not only empowers local filmmakers but also plays a pivotal role in the anticipated growth of the local film industry.


Diversity Amidst Trends: A Festive Tapestry of Stories


One of the highlights of Doc Fest is its diverse array of films. From music and environmental issues to entrepreneurship, AI dangers, and the underestimated journey of renovating an old bar – the festival promises a cinematic feast that caters to all tastes and interests.


Preserving Local Stories: The Role of Documentary Filmmaking


Documentary filmmaking is a powerful tool for preserving local stories, a sentiment I personally cherish. However, it’s not the only way to safeguard our culture and history. Whether through writing, oral storytelling, or film, everyone has a role in keeping our stories alive.


Advice for Aspiring Filmmakers: Think Big, Start Small


To aspiring documentary filmmakers, my advice is to think big but start small. Every story, no matter the size, holds significance. Scaling back allows for a more impactful storytelling experience, turning creative challenges into opportunities that make the process enjoyable.


Belleville Downtown District’s Support: A Filmmaker’s Wish for More


The support from the Belleville Downtown District has been commendable, particularly in including local and student filmmakers in Doc Fest. Looking ahead, the only wish is to see more local filmmakers contributing to the festival, fostering a vibrant and thriving film community.


Influences and Appreciation: Mark Bone’s Impact


Mark Bone’s work, especially “Okay – The ASD Band Film,” has left a lasting impact on my storytelling approach. Meeting him at Doc Fest last year was a treat, reinforcing the importance of community and shared experiences in the world of filmmaking.


Supporting the Local Film Community: Attend, Engage, and Listen


For those interested in supporting the local film community, attending the festival is key. Nothing means more to a filmmaker than seeing a filled theater. While we didn’t enter filmmaking for financial gains, we create stories that need to be shared. Come to the festival, bring friends and family, and be part of the audience that validates the importance of these stories.


Year-Round Engagement: Eyes and Ears Open for Opportunities


Supporting filmmakers throughout the year involves keeping your eyes and ears open. Filmmakers are a vocal community, often seeking assistance with locations, props, vehicles, or even funding. Your support can be the difference between a story being told and one being lost.


In conclusion, the 2024 Doc Fest is not just a film festival; it’s a celebration of local stories and a testament to the collaborative spirit of the Belleville community. As we anticipate the festival and the exciting partnership with Savour the Chill, let’s come together to celebrate the magic of documentaries and the vibrant tapestry of stories that make our community unique.