By Cindy Landrum  

JANUARY 27, 2012 9:59 a.m. Comments (2)

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Spartanburg writer Michel Stone was thrilled when editor C. Michael Curtis chose her short story, “Expecting Goodness,” for a collection to be published by Hub City Press.

Excitement came when the book was named after her story about a hesitant husband beginning the journey toward adopting a child.

And the news that a new film festival in Spartanburg would carry the same name made Stone giddy.

For the “Expecting Goodness” film festival, at least seven local filmmakers – some who have made feature length films and others who have never before made a film of any kind – will choose one of the 20 stories in the book to be the inspiration for a five- to seven-minute short film.

Andrew Doughman will turn Stone’s story into a short film.

“In my mind, I wrote the words and it will be interesting how the filmmaker will interpret those words,” she said.

The film festival is March 24.

During Film Fan Night on Saturday, some of the filmmakers will recruit actors, camera operators, producers, set designers and editors. Film professionals will give short presentations on subjects such as applying to film school, the history of film and starring in an independent film.

Some of the films will be filmed at least partly in Spartanburg County.

The festival is designed to generate enthusiasm for film, educate the community on the aspects of the industry and celebrate the literature and film of the region, said Stephen Long, The Showroom’s director.

“Film, in the past, was just not that accessible to people,” he said. “With inexpensive software and relatively inexpensive cameras available today, I think film is a medium that is going to grow.”

Josh Foster, a finance worker in Spartanburg who has made two films, came up with the idea for the film festival.

Foster adapted Spartanburg lawyer Andrew Poliakoff’s “Midwifery” into the short film, “The Midwife” and made an original screenplay into “Something Unexpected,” a 30-minute film about grief and small towns.

Foster said he wanted to create a film festival to give filmmakers in the Upstate a platform and, at the same time, promote the area’s short story writers.

While talking to some writers in town, “Expecting Goodness” was thrown into his lap.

The stories range from three to 14 pages and were accessible and adaptable, Foster said.

Greenville filmmaker Chris White will adapt Thomas McConnell’s “A Proof for Roxanna,” a short story set in 1939 Poland that tells the story of a family trying to escape the Nazis.

White, who is contemplating doing a full-length historic action film set in World War II if it can be shot in the Upstate, said the heart and soul of his film comes from a scene from McConnell’s work where the father and daughter in the family talk.

“You can’t roll in tanks and have fires but it will battle action of some kind even if it’s just sound effects,” he said. “You can’t do a World War II film without war.”

The dialogue in the film is all McConnell’s, White said.

“The challenge is going to be to make sure it looks like a historic drama and is valid for nothing,” he said.

Fortunately, he said, the terrain of the Upstate and Eastern Europe is similar longitudinally and topographically.

“In a short film, you have to rely on the power of cinema and moving pictures,” he said. “When it doubt, you have to let the picture tell the story.”

Fortunately for White, most of the film’s viewers will have some knowledge of World War II, saving precious seconds in the film.

“When they say, ‘The Nazis are coming,’ you know who they are and why they should be afraid,” he said. “There are a lot of assumptions I can make. And we have to trust our audience is not dumb.”

White toyed with the idea of making the film in Polish with subtitles but decided against it because of the short production time before the festival. There is one Polish phrase in the film.

“It doesn’t matter if beautiful, perfect films come out of the festival,” White said. “I think it’s more important to create.”


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