WESLEY CHAPEL — John Schneider is a man of many roles. Some might know him as Bo Duke on the television series The Dukes of Hazzard, Superman's adoptive dad on Smallville or currently as Jim Cryer on Tyler Perry's The Haves and the Have Nots. He's also a country singer and songwriter and touts a long-held passion for independent filmmaking.
Now Schneider is promoting the works of other indie filmmakers through a traveling film festival.
Wesley Chapel will be the fifth stop on an eight-week tour of the CineFlix Film Festival, which is looping through four Southeastern states. The inaugural festival, produced by John Schneider Studios and Maven Entertainment, runs from Monday through Thursday at Cinebistro at the Grove, 6333 Wesley Grove Blvd., and from Nov. 7-10 at Cobb Lakeside 18 and IMAX in Lakeland. It will feature some 24 films of various genres — short, documentary, feature length, comedy, romance, suspense — and an appearance by Schneider.
About 75 filmmakers submitted entries after the call went out in June, Schneider said. He watched all of them along with partner Alicia Allain, the executive producer of Maven Entertainment, all while dealing with the aftermath of catastrophic flood damage to his home and studio in Holden, La., in August.
"I was having to drive to different places to get Internet to watch the films," Schneider said with a chuckle. "In the midst of the flood here, we are doing a film festival — that's how crazy we are. We thought, 'It might slow us down, but it's not going to stop us.' "
Schneider promises a little something for everyone.
"We have our roster, and it's exciting," he said. "Many (films) are from the United States, and others are from Poland, London, Mexico City and Japan."
The idea was to bring independent films to places where people might not typically see them, while giving a financial and distribution boost to the independent filmmaker, said Allain, who has a long history of working in film in Los Angeles and also as an independent producer in her home state of Louisiana.
"We thought, 'What if we take that true-grit filmmaker, make it a traveling experience and bring the venue to the people,' " Allain said.
She and Schneider drew on experiences to create something along the lines of the early days of the Sundance Film Festival.
"We were both at Sundance the first year," Schneider said. "It was small, lovely — kind of what we're doing — a place for indie filmmakers to sell films."
CineFlix is unique in that "it has the filmmaker in mind," Allain said, adding that a portion of the revenue from the theaters goes to the filmmakers.
"Typically, when you go to bigger festivals like Cannes, the only benefit they have is the hope of distribution," she said. "In this festival, they get a piece of the door. It's up to them to help put butts in the seats. We will help negotiate future deals to drive revenue to the filmmaker. And if you have something that is a fluke — that breakout like Blair Witch Project — it will be a very beautiful."
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