The Red Wasp Film Festival began in the spring of 2002 at 7F Lodge, owned at that time by Craig and Carol Conlee. After meeting with local filmmaker Mark Beal, Carol Conlee realized that a local film festival could fill a void by providing access to films most people would otherwise never see.
“I believe that the power of story is life-changing,” Conlee says. “We are wired, hard-wired, to learn through story. Any independent filmmaker, using their own voice and their own talents, ungoverned by a ‘committee’ can tell their own truth. They can speak their own message and through that, speak to others as many of the great authors throughout history have done.”
To prepare for the Red Wasp Film Festival, Conlee researched and attended various film festivals, including the Tribeca Film Festival, Santa Fe Film Festival and Taos Mountainfilm Festival. She requested submissions from the University of Texas Film School, Southern Methodist University, Texas A&M’s Visualization Laboratory and online venues to find short films suitable for the Red Wasp Film Festival. Each year since then, Red Wasp has grown and gained momentum with the help of a team of volunteers and underwriters, as well as continued support from Brazos Progressives and the Arts Council of the Brazos Valley.
Krista May, chairperson of the Red Wasp Film Festival Committee, says that people in this area crave access to independent films and the powerful messages they convey. “The Red Wasp Film Festival provides something unique,” says May. “It is very different than going to see a big budget movie. You do not have to have millions of dollars to make a high quality, entertaining film.”
May says that another advantage of a small festival like Red Wasp is audience participation: the audience votes on their favorite film each night. The film with the most votes wins the “Audience Favorite Award” on the last night during the awards ceremony. After each film, the writer, director and any actors present will interact with the audience and answer questions. May says not only does that add a unique component for attendees, but it also can provide valuable guidance for up and coming filmmakers.
In addition to submitting completed works, filmmakers are asked to submit a screenplay that has not been produced to compete for the “Screenplay Award.” In recent years, the Red Wasp Film Festival has awarded a “Best Student Film” to a film produced by a high school or college student or a “Progressive Vision Award” for a filmmaker who is 18 years old or younger.
The 2011 Red Wasp Film Festival will feature an exclusive screening of “Destino,” the animated short film collaboration between Walt Disney and Salvador Dali, which was never released theatrically.
For more buzz on this year’s festival including a list of upcoming films, past winners and sponsors of this year’s Red Wasp Film Festival, visit www.redwasp.org.
Soar With the Red Wasp Film Festival
What: Red Wasp Film Festival, presented by Brazos Progressives
When: October 21-22
Where: StageCenter Theater, 201-B W. 26th St, Downtown Bryan
Doors open at 7 p.m. both evenings, and the show starts at 7:30 p.m.
Tickets are available at the door: $25/both nights or $15/one night; with student ID, $15/both nights or $10/one night.
Cash bar is sponsored and provided by Revolution.