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Filmmaker starts Indiana Youth Film Festival

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Deonna Weatherly, a filmmaker hailing from Indiana and an IU alumna, is on a steadfast mission to open doors for young filmmakers.

Reflecting on her youth, Weatherly candidly shares, “I recognized the unique perspective I could offer, but I was hindered by the lack of resources and opportunities to film or express my viewpoints.”

This was a challenge she was determined to overcome, but the prevailing advice she received was to “Leave Indiana.” Rather than deter her, this adversity only stoked her resolve to rewrite the narrative.

For many artists, the question of whether to leave Indiana to pursue their craft looms. This puzzle initially perplexed Weatherly. However, it also sparked her to consider how she could address the gaps in the Indianapolis film scene. The scarcity of resources, mentorship, and platforms for showcasing their work were some of the specific hurdles faced by artists in Indiana.

Her first step was establishing Weatherhouse Co. As the website proclaims, “Weatherhouse is an acclaimed production company based in Indianapolis, Indiana. It is a vibrant hub for artists to create, learn, and collaborate with like-minded individuals in film, video, and other production avenues.”

Since its inception in 2021, Weatherhouse has not just fostered a strong community but has also become a second home for artists a place where they can grow and belong.

One of the most significant milestones in Weatherly’s journey is establishing the Indiana Youth Film Festival (IYFF). Starting in 2024 and continuing annually, Weatherhouse will host a film festival exclusively for young filmmakers from Indiana. The IYFF aims to be a beacon of hope for the future of filmmaking in Indiana. It will run like a typical festival, engaging audiences with talkbacks, workshops offering insight and interactive question-and-answer sessions for the participants.

Indiana Youth Film Festival 2024
The inaugural Indiana Youth Film Festival will take place on June 22, 2024 at Kan Kan Cinema and Brasserie. (Photo provided/Weatherhouse Co.)

This platform is not just a testament to Weatherly’s unwavering dedication to supporting and nurturing young filmmakers in Indiana. It’s also a powerful testament to her belief in their potential, igniting a spark of hope and excitement in the hearts of the young filmmakers.

In this inaugural year, twenty films were selected to compete for superlative awards (Best Documentary, Best Music Video and Best Short). The knowledge and skill of the judges have a vast range — and an interesting requirement for the judges is to help deepen or widen the knowledge and skill but not deter contestants. Weatherly ensured each judge could be equitable and empathetic, stating this is vital for young people. Qualifying participants (6th grade – age 24) submitted to the screening process, and the selection committee selected twenty films to showcase from 11 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. June 22 at Kan Kan Cinema. The day will be filled with screenings ranging from documentaries to music videos, Q&As, panels, and workshops. The day will be divided into three sections: documentary, short narrative film, and music video. The grand prize will be a $500 gift card from Roberts Camera.

If you have a child interested in film, acting or media, the Indiana Youth Film Festival may be an excellent opportunity to network, learn, and collaborate with like minds. Tickets for the Indiana Youth Film Festival can be purchased now at eventbrite.

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