The advancement of digital moviemaking technology for the independent filmmaker has allowed the mainstream public to follow their passions instead of intensely watching from the sidelines.
That’s why Mark Justice started his production company, Cyclops Movies, in 2012 out of his Sheffield Lake home. Over the past five years, the Vermilion native learned he wasn’t alone. An entire independent filmmaker community existed throughout Northeast Ohio but was underserved.
That’s what led to Justice and independent film companies LegacyVerse Productions and RAK Films to create the Northern Ohio Indie Film Festival, which debuted last year in Sandusky. The second annual all-day affair has been moved close to home for Justice, taking place noon to 10 p.m. Saturday at Lorain Palace Theater.
“We just really wanted to celebrate the independent moviemaking spirit and to allow filmmakers from Ohio to showcase their work without any kind of pretension or audience expectations,” said Justice, who said he loves seeing movies in Lorain Palace Theater. “So we’re just a platform for people who otherwise may not be able to show their work in other venues.”
What: Northern Ohio Indie Film Festival
When: Noon to 10 p.m., Saturday
Where: Lorain Palace Theater
Info: (440) 452-1050 or lorainpalace.org
Sans any type of awards, the Northern Ohio Indie Film Festival provides an unfettered and freeing experience for filmmakers and film fans, with this year’s event featuring everything from shorts and full-length drama, comedy, horror and science fiction films to documentaries.
Considering the festival received so many entrants, next year it could expand into a two-day event.
“These movies are just kind of fun,” Justice said. “No one is making money off of this, but we just have a good time and enjoy watching them.”
While last year’s festival wasn’t widely promoted — attendance was fewer than 50 people — expectations are high that more than 300 moviegoers will attend the upcoming Lorain Palace Theater event, which is also a fundraiser for Second Harvest Food Bank of North Central Ohio.
Cleveland-based filmmaker Johnny Wu will be screening his latest film “Innerself” at the festival.
“I’m very excited and honored to be part of the festival,” Wu said. “Not only is it supporting a great cause, but also at the beautiful Palace Theater. The festival also provides an additional opportunity in Ohio for anyone who hasn’t seen the movie on a big screen.”
Looking ahead, Justice said he’s unsure where the Northern Ohio Indie Film Festival will land next.
“We want to make it an annual event, but as far as where it’ll be, we’re not sure yet,” Justice said. “Part of me would like to think it would be nice to hold it at the Palace. Another part of me would like to be able to showcase different venues as well to bring attention to other theaters.
“So right now we have no real plans. We’re excited about this year. It’s been a labor of love.”