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St. Petersburg's Sunscreen Film Festival offers strong lineup of workshop

Now in its fifth year, St. Petersburg's Sunscreen Film Festival has honed an identity as a filmmaker's event, whether they've made a movie or dream of doing it.

Every festival shows movies, of course, but few as doggedly supportive of "shoestring cinema." Some offer panel discussions with artists that can slip into self-congratulatory exercises. Sunscreen gets instructors to check their egos at the box office, getting down to the basics of their crafts, like Patrick Wilson's fascinating actors class last year.

This year's Sunscreen lineup is now available online ( The list of crash courses in making movies looks stronger than ever — four days of instruction (April 15-18) on everything from acting and screenwriting, to production and marketing, to musical scores and storyboarding. No less than 16 workshops are planned over the long weekend.

Wilson, a St. Petersburg native and star of Watchmen, Little Children and Lakeview Terrace, returns, putting actors through their paces in daily sessions. He'll be joined by actors Bill Cobbs (Night at the Museum), Alexa Vega (all grown up since Spy Kids), Soloman Trimble and Ayanna Berkshire from Twilight, and Ethan Suplee ("Randy" on My Name is Earl).

Production-based workshops are spread throughout the weekend, with too many topics and credits to mention. But if the producer of a sleeper hit like Napoleon Dynamite (Sean Covel) or blockbusters like the X-Men trilogy (Ralph Winter) wants to tell you how it's done, you listen. Same goes for a writer like Dean Batali, who headed the scribes for Buffy the Vampire Slayer and That 70's Show.

Day passes to Sunscreen are $35, providing access to all workshops and films that day ($125 for a four-day pass). The all-weekend VIP pass is $175, including access to celebrity events and parties.

Wilson will also bring his new film Barry Munday, that recently premiered at Austin's South by Southwest festival. Wilson plays the title character, a jerk and womanizer who gets harsh comeuppance from his emotional victims.

It seems that Barry Munday would be a better opening night selection than the movie in that slot: the blaxploitation spoof Black Dynamite that has been available on DVD since mid February. Sunscreen co-founder Tony Armer said Thursday that Wilson's schedule prevents him from attending opening night, so Barry Munday will show later, to accommodate a Q&A session with the actor.

Steve Persall can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 893-8365. Read his blog, Reeling in the Years, at

St. Petersburg's Sunscreen Film Festival offers strong lineup of workshop 03/25/10 [Last modified: Thursday, March 25, 2010 7:14pm]
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