DESTIN — The film community of Northwest Florida may be a small one, but local filmmakers celebrate in a big way with the annual Kite Film Fest at Club LA.
This year, organizers have planned the free short-film festival for Saturday, with about two dozen short films for viewing.
“It was just kind of a spur-of-the-moment idea that caught fire,” Kite Film Fest co-founder Nikki Hedrick said of the festival’s beginnings two years ago. “We were hearing people talk about projects and their scripts, but there wasn’t a really good way to show their products.”
Hedrick and her mother Heather founded the first Kite Film Fest in 2016 as a platform to showcase local films.
“The first year I was very pleased with the turnout, and the second year we were scrambling to find seating for everyone,” Hedrick said. “We didn’t think it would grow to the degree that we have. It’s a pretty cool thing that this little concept is something people look forward to.”
Jason O’Brien is one of them. A filmmaker from Alabama, O’Brien has participated every year since the Kite Film Fest’s inception.
“It’s very rare to find festivals that are just starting out that are so well organized,” O’Brien said. “I like the idea of starting out with something that is really trying to grow.”
O’Brien said he will be continuing a series of films that he produced under the same theme.
“I call it 'The Relationship Trilogy,' and each one looks at relationships in a different way,” he said. “I wanted to portray a more honest look at relationships on film.”
Fort Walton Beach cinematographer Kevin Almodovar took a more collaborative approach to the festival.
“Last year I think I had five films that I was a part of, and this year I think I have another five,” he said. “With the Kite Film Fest, it’s a passion project, a laid back, collaborative project, and it’s just kind of neat.”
Almodovar said he looks forward every year to mingling with filmmakers, seeing local work and enjoying the collection of shorts that the Hedricks curate for the festival.
“I’ve been to a lot of film festivals, and this one blows them all away with what they are able to do,” Almadovar said. “A lot of film festivals you may have one out of 10 films that capture your attention, but this one here has a high percentage of really good stuff that captures your interest and is entertaining.”
Kite Film Fest will be at 6 p.m. Saturday at Club LA in Destin. Entry is free and open to the public. For more information visit http://www.kitefilmfest.com.