Lights, Camera, Action: Columbia Gorge International Film Fest

Former Washougal event will be held Aug. 18-22

The Camas Public Library, an apartment in Washougal and scenes from Fern Prairie and Prune Hill will be among the settings for a movie to be included in the Columbia Gorge International Film Festival.

The event, previously named the Washougal International Film Festival, will be held Wednesday, Aug. 18, through Sunday, Aug. 22, in the Vancouver Convention Center, next to the Hilton, 301 W. Sixth St., in downtown Vancouver.

The film that includes several local scenes, “Hotel Vendetta,” was directed, produced, edited and co-written by Tim Cogley, of Washougal. He describes it as a story about a police officer who is on “the mobsters payroll, covering up their mistakes.”

“It’s an experimental short film in the genre of film Noir,” Cogley said.

The film includes photographs by Peter Mahar and a score by musician and co-writer Jordan Faulkner, both of Vancouver.

“It has been a long road getting this film made, so participating in the festival is a huge honor for everyone who worked on the film,” Cogley said. “Even getting it this far is a shared victory for all of us.”

Making “Hotel Vendetta” took 2 1/2 years and involved the voluntarily assistance from 20 friends and peers in the independent film community as well as “a near nonexistent budget” that Cogley paid for out-of-pocket.

He enjoys the challenge of filmmaking.

“Pushing myself and my team to do our best and do even better next time – the whole process is like the transformation of coal into a diamond, it takes pressure,” Cogley said. “It’s under that pressure where, at least I, perform at my top ability.”

The rewards of filmmaking, he said, include the people he meets and the connections that occur between his work and the audience.

“There is the accomplishment of realizing a creative vision collaboratively and having other creative minds lend to it as well,” Cogley said. “A personal reward on this film is seeing the score our musician and co-writer, Jordan Faulkner, created. He has incredible talent, and I’m humbled and honored to see the amount of love for the project that shows through his work.”

He admits the challenges of filmmaking are “innumerable.”

“A million things can go wrong and oftentimes do,” Cogley said. “That’s inevitable. It’s not the challenges themselves that matter though, it’s how you overcome them.”

In 2008, he won the “Most Ambitious Student Production” award for his feature “Ex Morte,” at the Washougal International Film Festival. Cogley was a student enrolled in River Homelink and the Running Start program at Clark College when he made the film.

Another award-winning filmmaker will be among the local participants in the Columbia Gorge International Film Festival.

Marc Steele’s film “Future Perfect” earned an audience choice award at the 2009 Washougal International Film Festival.

Steele, a 1980 graduate of Camas High School, moved from Camas to Vancouver in June. He has entered his film “Marvin’s Plan” in this year’s festival.

According to Steele, the film is about a “nerd” who wants to be come a father. That process involves a “hilarious turn of events,” he said.

Some of the scenes for “Marvin’s Plan” were shot at Steele’s former home in Camas, as well as locations in Vancouver and Portland. Making the film involved 13 people and approximately $2,000.

“I find it very very rewarding to see the cast and crew get excited when something good happens with the movie – for instance being accepted by a film festival,” Steele said. “The biggest reward is seeing my ‘baby’ come to fruition.”

He enjoys the entire creative process of making films. Steele was the writer, director and an actor in “Marvin’s Plan.”

Since deciding that acting and directing at the same time is too much, he plans to have a professional acting coach on the set of his first feature film “Wearing Normal.”

After graduating from CHS, Steele attended Clark College. He studied German and participated in a summer-long exchange program working in Germany.

That knowledge of a foreign language helped Steele get a job as a bilingual flight attendant with Hawaiian Airlines. Twenty-three years later, that career has helped him to make films on “micro budgets” and persuade people to help with his filmmaking process.

“As part of our benefits, we get a certain amount of [Hawaiian Airlines] buddy passes per year,” Steele said. “This has been a great bargaining chip for me. I will approach a director of photography or a sound guy and say, ‘hey, if I give you some tickets to go to Hawaii, will you shoot my movie?’ It has worked very well thus far, and I have become good friends with some very talented people.”

Steele credited the film festival’s founder and director Breven Angaelica Warren for being “incredibly supportive.”

“You feel like you’re wanted and valued at the festival,” he said. “It’s very refreshing.”

Steele also appreciates the fact that the festival is located close to home. He has participated in other festivals in cities such as Myrtle Beach and Toronto.

“I want to support a local film festival,” Steele said. “Everyone seems to think you have to go across the river to Portland for culture. I think that is nonsense. Talent isn’t stopped by a river.”

Admission to the film festival will be free and open to the public, and more than 300 films will be available for screening.

Warren said the event is designed to encourage and support independent filmmakers and everything it takes to do what they do.

The film festival had previously been held in the Washougal Town Square, in downtown Washougal, and in the Washburn Performing Arts Center at Washougal High School.

“We want to thank Washougal ‘The Gateway to the Gorge’ with all our hearts for hosting our first two years,” Warren said. “In our growth, we will be moving just a bit west on the river to facilitate the festival.”

She has previously said the Vancouver Convention Center was a “divine venue opportunity,” since it offered hotel rooms and screening rooms all under one roof within walking distance to shops, restaurants and art galleries for out of town guests.

Warren believes the change in location will attract more people to view the films. Since tickets were not sold, she said it would be difficult to get a head count for the previous film festivals. They included the showing of independent films from Switzerland, the United Kingdom, Germany and Canada.

For more information about the festival or volunteer opportunities, contact Warren at (561) 676-4696 or angaelica@gmail.com or visit www.washougalfilmfest.org.

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