CLEARWATER — This time last year we brought you the story of Mike Rembis, the Clearwater resident who tried to resolve his own unemployment problem by producing Clearwater's inaugural film festival.
Well, he's still unemployed and even though he said last year's endeavor cost him about $60,000 — and fewer than 400 people showed up — he's going for broke again this year.
"I have to find a revenue stream," he said, admitting, "This is not a good one."
Yeah, there's that.
Rembis says if he makes a profit this time around, he'll give a portion to the Venue Actors Studio as well as the Haven of RCS.
But our hunch is that he's going to keep producing these flick fests no matter what, given that his 47-year-old veins are really rolls of celluloid. He's produced three small-budget films and is an amateur screenwriter, having written 10 screenplays and entered 20 film festivals so far.
The second annual Clearwater Film and Music Festival runs today through Sunday. It's a leaner, meaner version of last year's fest, which means fewer films and awards, but cheaper ticket and badge prices plus a free awards party and music on three stages.
This year, all 57 selected films (out of 159 submissions) will screened at the Holiday Inn at Clearwater Beach.
Categories include animation, documentary, feature and short film. The selected flicks come from around the Tampa Bay area, Florida State University's film school, the nation and as far away as Sweden, Spain, Burundi, United Kingdom and Iraq.
One of them, God of Love by Luke Matheny of Brooklyn, N.Y., won the 2011 Academy Award for Best Live Action Short Film. It's a cute comedy about a love-struck, lounge-singing darts champion.
Industry insiders will also share information on a variety of filmmaking topics during educational film panels today and Saturday.
One expert is Jim Fitzpatrick, a local guy who attended Seminole High School. He's a screenwriter who has landed dozens of TV and movie roles, including one in Star Trek: Enterprise and most recently, Dolphin Tale.
So get your film badges or tickets, settle back in your seat, and relish the indie film experience.
Badges and tickets
Tickets: $9 for entry into a film block that could be one feature or up to five short films. Each film block is between one and 2 ½ hours long.
Director Badge: $29 for access to all films and film panels.
Associate Producer Badge: $69 nets access to all films, panels and private dolphin cruise by Tropics Boat Tours, departing today at 6:30 p.m.
Purchase: Tickets and badges (cash only) at the Holiday Inn at Clearwater Beach, 521 S Gulfview Blvd. For hours and room locations, go online to clearwaterfilmmusicfest.com or call (727) 599-5137.
Awards Party: Best Western Sea Wake Beach Resort, 691 S Gulfview Blvd. on Clearwater Beach, Saturday at 7 p.m. Awards will be given in nine categories. Musical guest is Gypsy Star.
Music: Entertainment on three stages on Clearwater Beach at Jimmy's Fish House and Iguana Bar inside the Holiday Inn (today and Saturday), Billy D's Restaurant and Bar, 656 S Gulfview Blvd. (tonight and Saturday) and Best Western Sea Wake Beach Resort (Saturday).
Rembis said the overarching theme this year is war and death.
"In half of the movies, somebody dies," he said. "Each film has a message and will make you think."
Filmmakers explore taboo, disturbing and controversial topics as well as topics like human rights, personal battles and the fragility of life. There are comedies, too, mostly found in the animation category.
Here's a glimpse into just a few:
21 — A short about a mother with dementia who gives her son money to gamble.
The Happets in the Kingdom of the Sun — An animation about true friendship among a group of tree house-dwelling animals.
Bubblegum Smackers — A local film by Lindsay Garvin about growing up and overcoming fears.
The Car is Born — Made by Clearwater resident Ulli Kampelmann, this documentary tells the story of auto inventor Karl Benz's wife, Bertha, who with their two sons, made the first long-distance trip in an automobile. This was despite a variety of mechanical problems and supposedly without the prior knowledge of her husband. She attracted worldwide attention.
The Triangle of Death — The story of the riflemen of Echo company in Iraq.
Missile Crisis — A coming-of-age drama set in South Florida.
Bad Influences — A short film about a hypochondriac with a vivid imagination.
The Policy of Murder and You've Got Hell were also made by local filmmakers.