Micro scope 

Winter Garden debuts its first micro-budget film festival

Starlite Film Festival

Thursday, Feb. 2-Monday, Feb. 5
Garden Theatre, Winter Garden
$30 (all access pass)

In his book Rebel Without a Crew, director Robert Rodriguez (Desperado, Spy Kids) documented his process of making a feature film for less than $10,000. “If I learn all there is to know about making a movie myself, and do it all myself, I will be light years ahead of other people still trying to tackle the basics,” he wrote prior to tackling his breakthrough micro-budgeted festival favorite El Mariachi. “I will learn sound, camera, lighting, effects, and then I’ll be more prepared to make real films later.”

Rodriguez’s strategy would come to revolutionize the film industry, as his contemporaries like Kevin Smith (Clerks, $28k), Richard Linklater (Slacker, $23k) and Edward Burns (The Brothers McMullen, $25k) had the same idea. It’s an ethos that informs the market to this day, as demonstrated by 2011 standouts like Weekend ($15k), Bellflower ($17k), and the unveiling of at least two movie studios’ – Paramount and Lionsgate – micro-budget divisions that same year.

As if on cue, Winter Garden’s Garden Theatre this week hopes to find its own Robert Rodriguez as it debuts the premiere Starlite Film Festival, featuring narrative films whose budgets come in at under $100,000. The fest will screen 10 submissions from the U.S., the U.K., Croatia, even Tajikistan, with the winners announced Sunday, Feb. 4.


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