In Celebration of 20th Anniversary of Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour in Boone …

Published Monday, March 14, 2016 at 4:18 pm
FIX_Packed house 2

The Boone tour of the Banff Mountain Film Festival, which celebrates its 20th birthday in
March, is among the most attended screenings in North America.

Editor’s Note: The Boone stop of the Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour is celebrating its 20th anniversary this March. Next weekend on Friday and Saturday, the film festival comes to the Schaefer Center for the Performing Arts. While the two-day screening is sold out like it is every year, there are still plenty of Banff-related events happening that are open to the public. 

By Jesse Wood (reprinted from The High Country Magazine, December 2015)

Banff: 20 Years at App State and in Boone

Avalanche conditions turned Wesley Overvold and a fellow group of college students away from skiing up to a small alpine hut, which leads to the top of the Wapta Icefield in Banff National Park, on spring break in 2012. It was Overvold’s first expedition trip with the Outdoor Programs at App State, and the trek to the hut was to be a significant part of the trip. Next year, though, Mother Nature was more welcoming as Wesley returned to the backcountry of the Canadian Rockies as a student leader.


ASU students ascending Mt. Habel (10,128’) in March 2015, located along the Wapta Icefield in the Canadian Rockies. Expeditions like these are made more accessible to students from the proceeds of the local screening of the Banff Film Festival.

Situated about 1,400 feet below the hut, the trailhead began beside Bow Lake, which the glacier of the same name has carved out for thousands of years. The students skied across the frozen lake and up creek drainages through the forest, catching glimpses of the tall peaks here and there. “Suddenly after gaining so much elevation, the canyon opens up into a giant headwall with a hanging glacier pouring on top of it,” Overvold said. “That’s when it really felt like we left the tree line and [entered] the alpine.”

After the several-hour trek on skis, the group arrived at the Bow Hut, which sits on a ridge with huge mountain peaks looming from all directions. From the hut, Overvold eventually journeyed to the top of the glacier and to the top of the Wapta Icefield, where he saw an incredible terrain that he’d never seen before.

“The surface looked like Pluto, sheer white snow with mountains coming out of it. It was a very impressive sight,” Overvold said. “To have my first exposure to big mountain ski touring and icefield traversing shut down by very serious avalanche conditions was an education and it was very humbling, [and to return] and achieve that goal was a very cool experience that will stick with me for the rest of my life.”

So what does this have to do with the Banff Mountain Film Festival? Well, through ticket sales, the Boone screening of the international film tour makes expeditions – like Overvold experienced – more accessible to students participating in ASU Outdoor Programs. While the Boone screening turns 20 years old in March, the Banff Mountain Film Festival turned 40 this November.

The Beginning of Boonff

3 covers

The Banff Mountain Film and Book Festival is committed to the goal of being a world leader in inspiring creativity.
The films and books have themes which celebrate mountain culture, environment, and adventure.
The Banff Magazine highlights many of those efforts.

Joe Quinn and Brent Cochran were onto something. In 1992, the two former managers of ASU’s Outdoor Programs attended an outdoor recreation conference in Calgary, Canada. There they saw a presentation on the Banff Mountain Film Festival and how to bring it to your town. Immediately, they knew that this would be something appreciated by the Boonies. But, with a program that was expanding rapidly, there was not enough time to create events like this until a third professional, Rich Campbell was hired in 1996 to help, which is when he wrote a grant to bring Banff to Boone.

That first year about 150 people attended the one-night screening in Farthing Auditorium, but that probably wasn’t representative of initial local interest or awareness. Campbell joked that promoters of the inaugural event made it a “requirement” for Outdoor Programs staff to attend. The next year the show moved to I.G. Greer, and attendance steadily increased. In 2005, the event returned to Farthing Auditorium (now the Schaefer Center) to stay. Aside from that show in 2005, the screenings in Boone have sold out every year for the past 15 years. Last year, more than 5,200 people attended the event, which is now a four-day community festival that includes private screenings for stakeholders and appropriate screenings for school-age students. After the screenings this year, the number of people to see the Banff Film Festival in Boone will surpass the 50,000-person threshold.


Rich Cambpell, Associate Director for Outdoor Programs
at Appalachian State University

While the festival isn’t quite a week-long event, the expanding programming – such as the Appalachian Mountain Photography Competition, A4 award and (new for this year) a competition to decide the design of a Banff banner to be displayed on the street posts in Downtown Boone for years to come – gives community members something to do, create, think or talk about something that has a connection to the Banff Mountain Festival World Tour throughout the entire year.

ASU Outdoor Programs encourages students to embark on their own outdoor adventure, while the mission of the Banff Centre, which produces the international film festival, is to “inspire creativity.” The festival that Campbell produces as Associate Director of Outdoor Programs is one that merges both missions seamlessly. The Appalachian Mountain Photography Competition (AMPC), which began in 2004, has become one of the premiere photography competitions in Southeast, garnering more than 1,000 submissions last year. The public has the opportunity to vote for “Best in Show” and the finalists are showcased for three months in the Turchin Center for the Arts from February to June.

The “A4” award stands for Appalachian Adventure Achievement Award and is eligible to those under 17 and those in between the ages of 18 and 24. The A4 award recognizes two young outdoor adventurers who excel in their mountain sport and, more importantly, are – in short – good people doing good work in the communities of Ashe, Avery and Watauga counties. All of the winners are announced on stage during the festival.

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Chloe Tipton, ASU Senior and Outdoor Programs trip leader hosting March 2015 Banff Film Festival. Outdoor Programs has a tradition of honoring graduating seniors who have contributed to the program the opportunity to host the event every year.

“One of the things we want to do is personalize this as much as possible. That’s why we created the photo competition and bring in film makers, athletes, directors, and even bring the wilderness to the festival,” Campbell said five years ago, when the Blue Ridge Wildlife Institute at Lees-McRae College in Banner Elk were invited to bring in Peregrine falcons and Northern Saw-whet owls. “We want to make the Banff Mountain Film Festival [tour stop in Boone] a celebration of the High Country.”

‘Boone May Do Banff Better Than Banff’

That’s what Will Gadd said on the Schaefer Center stage in 2012 to a crowd that responded with a thunderous roar. A filmmaker and ice climber, Gadd came to town as a special guest to present his film, Ice Revolutions. He also led workshops on climbing and ice climbing at the college, Footsloggers and in the wilderness. On stage, Gadd reminisced about attending the festival in Canada as a kid. He talked about Banff being influential in his filmmaking and climbing career.

“It inspired me at a very young age to try something different with my life and get on the mountains, so I appreciate that. That same energy and psyche is here [in Boone]. In fact as I said earlier today, Boone may do Banff better than Banff does,” Gadd said. “Boone has a great mountain town spirit and I feel totally at home.”

FIX_Lobby with vendors

To help create a festival atmosphere, organizers of Banff set up space for the audience and local businesses
and organizations to interact. Festival organizers work with local, independent business
and organizations who have some connection to the themes of the festival.

Jamie Carpenter has been touring North America as an on-site coordinator for Banff for about 16 years. He’s one of the famed Banff road warriors, a title that Carpenter says is a playful take on the lonely life on the road, traveling from place to place to assist the local screenings and present films to the audience. “We’re kind of lone wolves out there on the road,” Carpenter said.

Ask a road warrior what they think about Boone, and you’re likely to hear glowing remarks about the town’s people, landscape, mountain activities and the high-quality production of the Banff screening. “All of the fellow road warriors know about Boone, and all talk very fondly about their time there,” said Carpenter, who has been to Boone three times. “Boone has a reputation for being one of the very best [screenings] in North America”

Carpenter offered a few reasons why the Boone screening is held in such high regard. He said, that for one, “Rich Campbell is a great guy and does a great job with the show.” Carpenter noted the organization of the Boone screenings and the many volunteers from ASU Outdoor Programs that make the event happen. “The hosts, organizers and audience members really get into the show and we really feed from that, too,” Carpenter said.

When Banff comes to town, the enthusiasm and energy jump off the walls at the Schaefer Center. You can feel the buzz in the building. The films are captivating, and the response from the audience is electrifying. Paul Price, another road warrior who has been to Boone a few times, agreed with Carpenter. “Boone is one of the top attended festivals in North America, maybe the world,” he said in 2010. “It is one of the top destinations on the road for us in terms of how well done it is and how enthusiastic the crowd is. Just the whole feel and vibe of each evening is spectacular.”

‘The Boy Who Flies’ Comes To Boone


Godfrey Masauli at ASU before a campus workshop. Godfrey spoke on entrepreneurship, flight mechanics, and his experiences from rural Malawi.

A major part of the local production is community outreach. Since 2004, the Boone screening has invited a number of special guests – either someone featured in a Banff film or a director or producer. But there is one particular tandem of guests that seems to stand out from the dozen or so special guests that have come to town: Godfrey Masauli and Benjamin Jordan.

Masauli and Jordan created “The Boy Who Flies,” an award-winning documentary film that made it on the festival world tour in 2012-13. Jordan, a Canadian paraglider, traveled to Malawi after having a dream of teaching Malawian children the joy of flying kites. There, he meets Godfrey, a young man who has always had the dream of flying. The “odd pair” tour the country on bikes, building kites for youth, while journeying to the highest peak in Malawi, where Godfrey will eventually become the first Malawian to paraglide.

“Observing himself through the eyes of the Malawians, Jordan must come to grips with truths about who he is as a westerner while; Godfrey is required to reach deeper into his faith than ever before as he prepares to leap off a mountain and trust that the paraglider he’s been carrying–will carry him in return. Shining a new light on Malawian culture and lifestyle, “The Boy Who Flies” dives deep into the unique perspectives of both characters as they confront and overcome the challenges on their journey, each in their own unique way,” according to a description of the film shot with a simple “point-and-shoot” camera

Campbell reached out to Masauli to see if he wouldn’t mind coming to Boone for the screening. Campbell sought financial support across multiple departments at App State to fly him to Charlotte, where Campbell would eventually pick him up. Once Jordan heard that Masauli was coming to Boone, he packed up his home, an old, converted school bus, and drove down from western British Columbia, a trip that took a week. Campbell recalled Masauli talking about people in his hometown questioning Masauli about his plans: “Why would somebody invite you to come to the United States? Have you ever met Rich? I’ll know its real when you don’t come back off that airplane” – they said.

It was too expensive to fly Masauli from Johannesburg, South Africa, so he made his way to America via Rome. The custom agents in Rome questioned him as well and wondered why he was coming to America and if he was really who he said he was. So, Masauli told him about the film, “The Boy Who Flies,” and the customs agents went online and were floored, ushering over others to meet Masauli and look at the trailer. “They thought it was so cool,” Campbell said.


Godfrey working with students from Hardin Park. His kite building workshop is unique because he uses materials that can
easily be found and he emphasizes a message that students should follow their dreams, like he did when he learned to fly.
Godfrey also works actively with schools in Malawi.

While in Boone, Masauli and Jordan took part in several activities on the Appalachian State campus and in the wider community. Masauli visited Hardin Park Elementary School. He and Campbell led a workshop, teaching fourth graders how to make kites using old newspapers, sticks, tape, string and pieces of old shopping bags and flying them on the playground. Jordan and Masauli also held a paragliding-basics clinic with Bubba Goodman atop Tater Hill and held a meet and greet, Q&A session with the public at Footsloggers in downtown Boone.

Their time in Boone was noteworthy for another reason. It was the duo’s first public appearance since creating “The Boy Who Flies.” It also became the impetus for the two to tour North America in Jordan’s bus, promoting the film and build support for the school they are trying to create in Malawi.

Carpenter, the Banff road warrior, was in Boone the year that Masauli and Jordan came to the High Country. “Having the stars of the film in the community and spending time with them there was just fantastic and seeing the response from the community to them was quite special,” Carpenter said. “That was very special, and I think what Rich and the Boone show does, relatively few shows would do to go the extra mile to make that happen.”

Full Circle: From Boone to Banff … or Wherever

The year Overvold and the rest of the expedition crew turned back because of dangerous avalanche conditions, the students visited the Banff Centre in Alberta, Canada, and received a “behind the scenes look at not only the inner workings of the festival, but the center as a whole,” Overvold said. He described the town as a “big artistic community,” one located within the Banff National Park with a population of about 8,300.

“It really brought it full circle,” Campbell said of the first expedition that featured a trip to the Banff Centre, where the students were “blown away” by the creative production. During the 10-day trek in Canada – two of which were spent traveling – the students spent eight days on snow taking an avalanche certification course, working at a commercial ski operation, learning the fundamentals of backcountry skiing and embarking on a 5-day traverse of the Wapta glacier, learning about crevasse rescue, safe glacier travel – and, of course, enjoying some great skiing and peak ascents along the way.


Will Gadd, one of the world’s leading adventure athletes, attended the Boone screening in 2012. While in Boone,
Gadd conducted filmmaking, rock and ice climbing clinics. Gadd, one of the world’s top ice climbers,
conducted an unusual ice climbing workshop on an artificial ‘ice’ surface on the Footsloggers Climbing Tower.

Over the years, students within the program have traveled to New Zealand, Wales, Fiji, Canada, Costa Rica, Italy, Alaska and other parts of the United States. The curriculum and itinerary of events are aligned with the student’s majors. Campbell said the students learn basic life/career traits and skills, such as punctuality, professionalism, dependability and good judgment and, of course for the outdoor world, practice safety. “Another thing I really love to see is students overcome adversity,” Campbell said. These expeditions, he explains, are intense, but if you “dig deep, prepare, pack well and be smart about taking care of yourselves” you are rewarded and usually gain the most out of the trips.

He described one trip to the Canadian Rockies where the students endured harsh winter conditions. “All of a sudden the clouds part, the wind dies down and you find yourself on a summit on a ski trip in the backcountry in the Canadian Rockies,” Campbell said. “I had two students look at me and say, ‘This is the best day of my life,’ and to be a catalyst to get a student to that point … is pretty cool and I count myself lucky everyday to be apart of that in some ways for these students.”

Banff Centre’s creativity and the ASU’s Outdoor Programs mission of adventure produces a pretty neat dynamic for students that want to merge the two disciplines in their education and life. Consider Overvold, who is 26 years old. He now works for a media marketing company in Big Sky, Mont., where he is a videographer and a photographer.

Tommy Penick has a similar background with Outdoor Programs – as far as his love of the Great Outdoors and an ability to make a living as a photographer and videographer. In 2007, Penick was walking down Rivers Street when he stumbled upon a lively crew of outdoor enthusiasts in puffy down jackets. A senior at Watauga High School, Penick was touring the Appalachian State University campus as a crowd gathered at the former Farthing Auditorium to watch the annual screening in Boone.


Tommy Penick was a student in the ASU Commercial Photography department and was active in film and the outdoors while at ASU.
Tommy’s passion for filmmaking was ignited at ASU and is the first local to have a film screened at the Banff Film Festival.

Penick scored a ticket and walked inside to watch outdoor films steeped in mountain culture. At the time, he was still undecided about where to go to college. But after watching the amazing films and seeing the camaraderie between the members of the outdoor community, Penick knew App State and Boone would be home for a while. While a student at App, he never embarked on the extended expeditions, but he did paddle the High Country rivers, ski at the local resorts and bike all over the nearby forests.

As a freshman, he started submitting photos into the Appalachian Mountain Photography Competition, where he is now one of the more recognizable names because of the many times his photos have been selected as finalist images or received awards. He also volunteered with the Boone screening of Banff, where he found “awesome access as a budding filmmaker” to talk with professionals in the industry. Today, he travels the world, making a living off his photographs and video.

Earlier this year, Penick reached out to Campbell regarding a four-minute film he produced and directed titled, “Juma of Itanda.” Penick asked if his film would be something that the Banff Centre would be interested in. Campbell watched the film and said, unequivocally, “Yes.” Its world premiere was on opening weekend of the Banff Mountain Film Festival in Canada in November.

FIX_Volunteers thanking sponsors

Outdoors Programs, a unit within University Recreation in the Division of Student Development, strives to provide students with
opportunities for development. Students are essential in every aspect of the program including leading trips/clinics,
managing the Outing Center and Climbing Wall, and working to make events like the film festival possible.

Here’s how Banff describes the film: “As a boy, Juma watched the first rafting group paddle to Itanda, the Class V rapid named after his village on the Victoria Nile in Uganda. From that spark, Juma’s passion for the river grew, eventually leading to his current role as Director of Operations at the country’s largest raft outfit. However, a dam project threatens his dream.”

“Juma of Itanda” was among 350 films that are annually submitted to the festival. Only the best of those are selected to premiere at the Banff Mountain Film Festival in Canada. “It’s definitely a dream come true,” said Penick. Depending on how well the film is received, it has a chance of making the final list of the 20 to 30 films eligible to be shown on the world tour. If that happens, you can bet we’ll be watching it in Boone next March.


Youth Outreach Recognizes Young Outdoor Adventurers


School children leaving a viewing at Schaeffer Center

Two years ago, Jason Berry of Footsloggers said he was interested in increasing their level of support for the Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour in Boone. Over a cup of coffee at Espresso News, Berry and Richard Campbell, organizer of the local Banff screenings, both gravitated toward offering age-appropriate screenings of Banff films to school children.

Campbell said as this conversation was brewing, the Office of Cultural Affairs at ASU was restructuring its popular AppLause series, which offers special events shown at the Schaefer Center to school-age children. Footsloggers ended up providing the extra support with AppLause providing the logistical assistance and networking with school administrators to turn the idea into a reality.

During the first school screening in 2014, 350 children braved an unexpected snowstorm to attend the school screening at the Schaefer Center. The kids travelled to six different countries on four different continents and watched films on the environment, mountain culture and adventure. Last year, the weather was nice as it could be for March in the High Country and more than 1,600 middle school students attended the special Banff school screening.

In another attempt to engage a younger audience, Campbell and company created the A4 Award. The “four A’s” stand for Appalachian Adventure Achievement Award and is eligible to those under 17 and those in between the ages of 18 and 24. The A4 award recognizes two young outdoor adventurers who excel in their mountain sport and, more importantly, are – in short – good people doing good work in the communities of Ashe, Avery and Watauga counties. The winners will be announced on stage during the festival on March 18, 2016.

“We try to give back to the local community, and a good way to give back to the local community is through the youth, through the schools and celebrating young people as well,” Campbell said.


Appalachian Mountain Photography Competition

The Appalachian Mountain Photography Competition, created by former OP manager Andrew Miller and first held in 2004, grew out of the Banff Film Festival after the event organizers “decided to create a tangible way for the entire community to interact with the themes of the film festival, while celebrating our own unique mountain culture here in the Southern Appalachians,” Campbell said.


Rich Campbell presenting awards at the Appalachian Mountain Photography Competition

“It’s our own local to global celebration of mountain culture,” Campbell added.

That inaugural year about 100 images were submitted and 16 displayed for exhibition. Today, it’s among the most prestigious photo competitions in the Southeast. Consider that last year upwards of 1,000 images were submitted with 49 finalists showcased in the Mezzanine Gallery in the Turchin Center for the Arts, where they were viewed by more than 8,000 people. Each year, the Turchin Center hosts an exhibition for the AMPC finalists from about February to June.


The traditional cake

For 2015, categories for the AMPC, which features $4,000 in cash and prizes, include: Adventure, Blue Ridge Parkway, Culture, Our Ecological Footprint, Flora/Fauna, and Landscape. Leading up to the Boone screening of Banff, where the winners will be announced on stage, the AMPC features an online competition where the public can choose the “People’s Choice Award.”

“We could not present this competition without the assistance of our partners, sponsors and supporters,” Campbell said. The AMPC is a partnership between Appalachian State University’s Outdoor Programs, the Turchin Center for the Visual Arts and Virtual Blue Ridge. The AMPC is made possible through the sponsorship of the Mast General Store. The AMPC also receives support from the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation; Appalachian Voices; Nikon, Bistro Roca, Peabody’s, Footsloggers, and Stickboy Bread Co.

Banff Mountain Film Festival and the Boone Screenings

Boone is among 1000 shows in 30 different countries that host the Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour. While the Boone screenings will celebrate its 20th anniversary in March, the Banff Mountain Film Festival in Canada turned 40 years old this past November. Each fall filmmakers, explorers and adventurers descend on the small community of Banff in Alberta to watch selective films about mountain adventure, environments and culture. The Banff Centre, which has a mission to inspire creativity, produces the festival.

FIX_Mtn. Alliance T shirt launch

The legendary Mountain Alliance T-Shirt launch is held at the beginning of every screening in Boone,
pumping up the audience. The Mountain Alliance is an incredible organization at Watauga High School
building leaders of tomorrow through service, outdoor education and adventure.

The nine-day festival hosts about 10,000 people who are engaged through workshops, clinics, screenings, world premieres, presentations and more. The film festival happens simultaneously as the Banff Mountain Book Festival. Each year, about 350 films are submitted. These are narrowed down to several dozen to be screened at the film festival. The final cut of films, the best 20 or 30 of the festival, are eligible to be on the world film tour.

Rich Campbell, event organizer of the Boone screenings and staff at ASU Outdoor Programs, peruses all of the films and selects films that he thinks will be best received by the Boone audience. “Here in Boone, since we have such a broad and active outdoor community, we have generally tried to create balanced films that feature all areas of the outdoors,” Campbell said.

And like how Banff has a number of related activities to create a festival like atmosphere, so does the Boone screenings, which are shown to the public two nights a week, school-age children on one day and a private screening for stakeholders and sponsors. The local four-day festival features special guests that engage with the community, the Appalachian Mountain Photography Competition, the A4 Award for young outdoor enthusiasts doing good work in the community and more. This year, to celebrate its 20th anniversary, Campbell said organizers intend to create a few more special events over the course of the weekend – so be sure to check those out.

Referring to the community outreach with special guests and the competitions and other related activities beyond the screen, Campbell said, “That has grown into an important part of this festival and has always been well received.”

Seana Strain, World Tour Manager of the Banff Mountain Film Festival, had these good words to say about the Banff and the Boone screenings:

“I think Boone itself influences the response to Banff. You live in a beautiful location and the Appalachian State Campus shows that the community value the outdoors and outdoor recreation. It seems like a place that people choose to live to embrace the outdoor lifestyle. The Banff Mountain Film Festival films fuel that spirit.

I also think the long-time sponsors of the Banff screenings really contribute to the exciting energy. Their commitment has been a huge help in the growth of the shows.

And last but far from least, the staff at the Schaefer Auditorium are exceptional. They continually make the films look and sound fantastic. That really helps to draw the crowd in. And your audience is known for being loud and appreciative. Boone is one of our favorite stops on the tour (remember we present approximately 1000 shows a year and visit about 40 countries!).”


Boone Film Festival: Showcasing Your Stories within Appalachia

So, a businessman, a teacher and a coach walk into a bar…


From Left: Bill Ireland, Russ Hiatt, Eitan Abramowitz, and Jason Berry

Sounds like the beginning of an interesting joke, but on February 7 of last year this combination of individuals in an unexpected setting founded a festival that will bring together the world of film and the Appalachian way of life.

The first Boone Film Festival is scheduled to debut on February 27, 2016. Appalachian State University’s IG Greer Theatre will be the venue for these talent-laden short films showcasing the Appalachian region. Boone, North Carolina, as well as all of the High Country, is host to creative individuals that pursue many unique pastimes, hobbies and passions. This film festival is for them, for anyone who has ever captured a moment on video, played around with some editing, and then couldn’t wait to share it with all they knew.

“This film festival is for the community, its people, its places, its uniqueness. I know there are thousands of people out there with videos saved on their computers or even phones,” explains Jason Berry, owner of Footsloggers. “So many people have a Go Pro in these days, or a phone that can take great videos. These individuals have inspiring stories just sitting on their computers. This festival is for anyone, of any age, with any interest to share their perspective of the world with others.”

The Boone Film Festival is an outlet for the people of—or for that matter visitors to—the Appalachians, to share the beauty and feel of this one–of-a-kind region. Perspective is the key element to this film festival. The filmmaker’s perspective is what makes the film real. Whether it be a well-cut, polished 30 minute film set to music, or just a camera picking up a telling moment in the here and now — both are great, both need to be told.

Other film festivals can be found around the globe, and while the common thread they share is film, each tends to have its own unique angle. One such festival is the Banff Mountain Film Festival hailing from Canada. Banff will be showing its 20th world tour film series in Boone during January 2016.

An enthusiast Banff goer, Watauga County school teacher Russ Hiatt, asked the question that many have asked before, “Why doesn’t Boone have its own film festival?” The difference between Hiatt and others who have asked this question in the past, is that Hiatt asked the next questions, “What will it take to do it?” “Who should be involved?” “How can Boone do a film festival and make it different from the others that are already out there?” These were great questions, shared with friends one night in a local Boone bar.

Local high school soccer coach Bill Ireland was among the trio. Ireland has had some experience getting thoughts and desires off of paper and implemented into real life. While working with the high school’s non-profit Mountain Alliance club, Ireland often brainstormed and then collaborated with the community to get great ideas into motion.

With the work ethic of a businessman, the passion of a teacher and the communication skills of a coach, the question of “Why doesn’t Boone have its own film festival?” has been made moot. On, November 2, 2015, submissions opened for the inaugural BooneFF. Within a very short while BooneFF received it first submission, Beekeeping in the High Country. More submissions have followed. Submission time is open now through January 15, 2016.

When the festival’s three masterminds were asked what they wanted the readers of this article to walk away with, there were three different takeaways:

  1. SUBMIT, submit your piece. If your production is meaningful to you and you want to share it, DO IT. This is a perfect opportunity to share a passion and to meet others who share the same.
  2. Email us, ask us questions. Many people wonder if their idea is sound, or have questions about how to finish a piece. If they contact us, we can help point them in the right direction and give them guidance. BooneFF is partnering with Wonderland Woods Productions, and they can help get the individual in contact with professionals in the film festival industry.
  3. Believe in yourself. Filmmaking is a form of art, and there is no one right way to do it, nor wrong way to tell your story. If you are interested, the odds are that a segment of the population share that interest as well, and you could network with those viewers that are like-minded.

So, be brave, be unique, be a storyteller in the happenings of the Appalachians and share your perspective of this way of life with your community in the first-ever Boone Film Festival. Deadline for submissions is January 15, 2016. Visit their website at for guidelines about submissions.


Have some great footage that you are excited to edit? Ready to get serious about shooting new footage? Have an interesting story to tell? Get some friends together and make some magic!

Even if you are not a filmmaker, you can still be part of the film festival by attending on February 27, 2016. This event is open to everyone. There will be a Q&A session with each artist whose work is presented, as well as a few seminars during the day. Currently, an artistic member from the Lord of the Rings films Dean Lyons, is slated for a session about film editing. In addition to attending, another way to participate is to become a sponsor. Both individuals and businesses can sponsor the event or specific categories of the event. Email [email protected] for sponsorship opportunities.




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