Red Dirt Film Festival 2013…get ready for some FUN!

Red Dirt International Film Festival October 25-26

People Watching Movie in Movie TheatreSo, we are pretty busy around here lately and we want to tell you a few things and answer some questions we have been receiving.  I will try to break them down into simple sections so if you are just looking for a specific thing you can scroll until you see it unless you want to read all of the surely awesome things that I shall expound upon through my keyboard to your screen.

What exactly IS an international film festival?

It’s a chance for independent (indie)  video-makers worldwide to submit their films so they can gain a wider audience.  At any given point festivals usually have multiple venues in close proximity running varied films; these are sometimes accompanied by the filmmaker to introduce the film and to answer questions and/or listen to comments afterward. There is usually a kick-off party and an awards ceremony that accompany the festival along with vendors, live music, etc.

Eggsotic Events Red Carpet with Chrome Stanchions 1What can I expect from Red Dirt’s first annual international film festival?

Well…a hell of a lot of fun! But I digress… We have films from all over the globe.  There will be some short films (5-70 minutes) and some feature length films (over 70 minutes) from all genres of film including: dramas, comedies, children’s films and much more! The locations will be primarily downtown Stillwater in many venues depending on the film. There will be a website up soon that will have detailed information and a schedule will be provided in October. We have a Red Dirt Film Festival facebook page up now.

We will have art, food, music, a charity event, character photo ops, an awards ceremony (there will be an audience choice award), panels and workshops about film and filmmaking, audience participation films (SO FUN),  and a few surprises (watch out for zombies- hint, hint), all open to the public.

Who can submit films?

Anyone!  You do NOT need to be a professional to submit your video.  If you have an awesome Youtube video or you want to shoot a short film that you shot on your iPhone then please do it! We also encourage kids and young adults to submit!  Be creative and have fun with it!  Go to this link to submit:


The Charity Event: The STAR STRUT

It is important to us to give back to the community and this year we have chosen the Payne county chapter of  C.A.S.A. (Court Appointed Special Advocates). Since this is a charity that benefits children we wanted to do something in which all children and adults could get involved. We are hosting a wellness walk that is short enough for children and families to get involved and the STAR STRUT was born!  We will walk down Main Street in downtown Stillwater dressed up as our favorite “star” or character from a film, any film on Saturday, October 26th. (Time to be announced soon) Tickets will go on sale on our website for this event in September so keep watching and get involved in the fun while supporting a great cause!

Art on display

We will have a few gallery spaces in downtown businesses.  Bring your creations! Painting, sculptures, collage, drawings, etc. will be on display.  If you want to show off your art and perhaps even sell some pieces please email us at inspirehineheal (at) gmail to register. (free of charge)



This is an opportunity for the public to directly hear filmmakers discuss creative solutions they solve while working on their films. Workshops allow aspiring screenwriters/actors/filmmakers to bounce their own ideas off the seasoned pros of the festival.

Audience Participation Films

Have you ever experienced Rocky Horror Picture Show live or The Sound of Music with the entire audience encouraged to sing along and make us of well-timed props? We’ll be featuring a fun film or two and hope you will come out and get involved!  More info will be on our website.

ticketTicket Sales

All of the information will be up on our soon-to-be website.  There will be day and weekend passes. Single screenings will be offered during the festival at the venue doors, but priority will be given to pass holders. ALSO…tickets for the STAR STRUT will be on sale very soon!

WANNA HELP?  Be a volunteer.  Get stuff.

If you want to help in any way with the festival please contact Damon and Marisa at inspireshineheal (at) gmail. There are privileges to our volunteers.  We are only taking a limited number so get with us soon!

We hope this helps answer some questions and makes you want to come out and support this year’s festival.

Feel free to “like” us on Facebook and continue to follow us on “ish” and watch for our website in September.



The Cavalry = YOU!!


(clip from Weird Al’s UHF (1989) )

Damon happy!

Hello all!!

Damon here with a call-to-action! We have two days left in our Kickstarter campaign to make the Red Dirt International Film Festival a reality (formerly FILMish). So far we’re at 67% of our goal.

thermoThe truth is, if we can get 50 people to each pledge $10 (about the cost of a festival event ticket), then we’re in! Or only 25 to pledge $20…The key is that there’s a short number of people needed to be our angels of this campaign, and you can be one of them! All levels of pledges receive great rewards (i.e. – I get video-recorded pies to-the-face with donors’ names on them, you get free festival tickets, awesome behind-the-scenes fest footage, exclusive party access, et cetera). This is a one-time drive to establish our permanent festival legitimacy with the festival clearinghouse, Withoutabox, and once we’re in we’ll be able to make this an annual tradition!

If you’ve ever purchased something on Amazon, you’ll find it even-easier to donate to our cause! And considering you can donate as-little as a $1, there is nothing to stop you from taking the length of a song to help us in this final push to bring more culture, education, charity, and fun to central Oklahoma and the arts world in-general! So don’t wait, expecting someone else to jump-in; good karma is waiting for you!

Check out this front-page article from last Friday’s local paper, the Stillwater NewsPress providing coverage about the campaign, and don’t forget to “like” Red Dirt on Facebook for regular-updates!

(click to enlarge, or go here for the digital copy)

newsAlso, be sure to check out the Payne County CASA website; they’re the organisation we’re donating 100% of our Fun-Run marathon proceeds to! CASA, which stands for Court Appointed Special Advocate, is a nonprofit organization advocating for the best interest of abused and neglected children involved in the court system. We can think of no better local cause to contribute to during the course of the Red Dirt Festival!!

CASAFrom Damon and Marisa, THANK YOU ALL for your support in making this a REALITY!


Art, and its purpose!

Hey Marisa!!

Here’s a topic VERY near and dear to my heart. As you know, my Master’s degree is in Art, and though film and video are my main media, I love to engage in all artforms, and also in appreciating it. One of the core topics we covered in seminar was “What defines art?” We debated almost every conceivable medium in light of this question, from cooking, to dance, video games, to pornography, to temporal works.

For most people the answer to this question simply means that a landscape painting or cheery, nostalgic view of a yesteryear-that-never-was, which just happens to have a colour scheme matching the room decor, is art because it can be hung above the couch and “bring the room together”. Certainly illustrative paintings of this sort have their place in the commercial realm of interior design, but the conclusion I came to about what defines art is quite different.

I say the conclusion that ‘I’ came to, for we never did hit upon any real answer in either seminar or Philosophy of Art, nor do I believe it’s any more possible to answer that than it is to definitively answer, “What is the meaning of life?”. But in my own opinion, art is merely a creative act (or the result of one) that makes you think or feel.

The best art in the world, whether it be a movie, song, sculpture, dance, et cetera, is that which gives you a sort visceral reaction, but even moreso if it makes you stop to question, to consider, to think. For some this may mean the piece may offend certain sensibilities, which then forces the patron to stop and evaluate why they’re having the knee-jerk reaction they are – what does it say about their life experiences or beliefs that a creative act on display has suddenly made them question the nature expressed through the piece? Or even better yet, once the patron has then read the artist’s statement accompanying the work, does the material now make more sense in the assumed context? Does this new understanding enhance the appreciation of the work, or does it devalue it? Sometimes this is especially true if the work is more about the statement being made rather than in the object’s execution of technical expertise.

As I’ve noted, this is an endless debate, but hopefully this discussion will help encourage our readers to occasional stop to question the intent of a piece, even if it is seemingly an innocuous landscape or sentimental painting, and even go so far to read a bit of the artist’s description to assess the intended context if it’s one that’s particularly moving. A pleasing painting (or movie, et cetera) is fine on its own, but if the artist has ALSO infused it with some rich tapestry of history, political motivation, religious influence, et al, then it’s something that goes from being merely a shiny curio, to a living, breathing document of contemplation that can allow us to really converse with our own minds about how we react to the world and its inhabitants that surround us, in all their myriad forms and uniqueness!

Hey Damon!

I love how two people can look at the same work of art and have completely different reactions to it based on their individual tastes and life experiences. I also like how art in its various forms, allows us to express ourselves and many times heal emotional pain.

Being creative is something that gives me some of my greatest joys in life. Dreaming up ideas and putting them into action is the part of art I enjoy most. Art allows us to show others how we are viewing the world in the moment or it can take us out our the moment altogether into some fantastical place.

I hope that whatever people’s creative and artistic endeavors, they will use them to inspire, shine, and heal.


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Power in the Shadows

Hey Marisa!!

I’d like to take time today to discuss something different than planned, which was to be a resource list I’d created of the best-of-the-best self-help/inspirational materials that’ve gotten me on my feet the past four years, but decided instead to table that until next week. Today I feel so moved to discuss my primary passion, beyond that of healing and making a positive difference in the world; that is the nature of cinema – this is a discussion of why I do what I do (as a filmmaker/visual-artist/film professor):

First of all, I’d like to address something about the medium of film: it’s the most powerful medium within the arts by virtue of combining ALL other media: sculpture (set design), theatre (the proscenium framing, the lighting, blocking, and acting), music, editing (unique to the form, but based on written grammatical concepts), dance, fictional archetypal storytelling, singing, drawing and animation, computer arts, et cetera.

Film is powerful enough to have both started and quelled riots, saving many lives through informing, teaching moral lessons, and inspiring masses onto greatness. It even helped spark World War II when Hitler (whose favourite films were Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarves (1937) and Fritz Lang’s Metropolis (1927) ) recognised that the medium was such a consequential tool that he, through Joseph Geobbels, Reich Minister of Propaganda in Nazi Germany, established the film division in order to sell a brand of propaganda that would brainwash millions of the new Nazi Regime’s significance in the world.

If one studies the artistic triumph of the Nazi’s use of the art-form, young female filmmaker Leni Riefenstahl’s Triumph of the Will (1935), you can see it’s a textbook case of how subliminal the medium is in effecting an emotional response from the viewer: camera angles, screen direction, the way sound and music is manipulated, the style and choice of edits, et cetera, all collaborate to have convinced so many that the next world villains had a legitimate, and worse, pressing cause, as a prime example of film’s ability to infiltrate our very core.

Brain science tells us that our subconscious mind, which is responsible for our dreaming, repressed memories, and unconscious motivations, cannot differentiate between reality and the dream state. In effect, to become absorbed in a film is to have lived it. Eastern Orthodox Christians, rather than believing in the Western Catholic concept of transubstantiation, wherein the bread and wine during communion actually transmutes into THE physical manifestation of Christ’s body once taken into our mouths, believe in something similar in that they pray to hand-crafted icon-paintings of Christ, the Virgin Mary, and/or the saints. They follow that during intercession to these images, it temporarily opens a direct portal to these individuals to hear and receive the prayer, much like an open frame to another dimensional reality.

What does all this have to do with inspiration, shining, and healing? I’ll hit upon that in a bit, but first a bit of clarification: I tend to follow the more spiritual concept of both creating and receiving in the filmmaking/viewing process. Some filmmakers like Alejandro Jodorowsky specifically make movies to serve as a spiritual experience. Film for me is vitally-important as a communal experience; every time you watch the same film in a different setting, it takes on a different mood or sensibility, and how an audience’s collective energy builds around a film’s moments has much to do with our enjoyment of it.

There’ve been films I’ve hated upon release in the theatre, only to give them another chance at home on a small screen and instead loved them, and vice-versa. And like those within the Christian Orthodoxy, I believe that allowing our subconscious to interface with the projected archetypes on screen is a form of spiritual meditation. Some people meditate while sitting in a lotus position, eyes closed; some by running, some by driving; some by gardening or hard labour or exercise routines.

I do all these, but the most important to me is meditation via the experience of getting lost in the manufactured world of cinema, which unlike the harsh video-ness of television (running 30 frames per second), has traditionally been captured at 24 frames per second, which is most akin to replicating the way we “see” while dreaming. By watching waking dreams, we are able to consciously explore our reactions to events and archetypal themes and characters (those common to all people and cultures throughout history); the ancient Greek philosopher Plato believed there were only roughly seven stories in existence, replicated time and again in differing ways, and 20th Century psychiatrist Carl Jung identified 32 character types that appear time and again (the mentor, the hero, the wicked stepmother, et al).

How we react to these situations and characters gives us much to ponder, about our selves, our world, and those we interact with. Our relatively new medium of cinema is not unlike Plato’s Allegory of the Cave, which described everyone’s uniquely-different reaction to the same ancient shadow play on cave walls since the dawn of civilisation.

So what does all this have to do with inspiration, shining, and healing? While wars, revolutions, and riots have been stirred up by this tool, think of all the good, and the potential for good that exists within its framework: inspirational films have set people onto new and higher paths; socially-conscious documentary films have changed the landscape of politics, repealed hurtful old regimes, and brought awareness to the masses of an injustice or unforeseen danger.

For me, the films of the aforementioned Jodorowsky changed my life in late Dec. 2007, and the film John Rambo (aka Rambo IV) (2008) was so inciting in its imagery about the horrors of present-day Burma that it brought me to such tearful emotion I began to volunteer my time, efforts, and money to assist the persecuted peoples there; who’d have expected that from a typical entertainment “blockbuster” film designed mainly for entertainment? Film can entertain surely, which is its primary-existence, but it also informs, serves as artistic expression for visual-artists, and lastly, and just as importantly, serves as a sort of spiritual intercession on our behalf whether we know it or not – use its power responsibly!

And be sure to check out Spiritual Cinema Circle for a Netflix-like rental service that specialises in uplifting, healing and inspiring films.

Hey Damon!

I learn more and more from you about media arts all the time!  You and I can watch the same movie and see totally different things!  Your trained eye notices everything in the background and the angle of the camera.  I watch movies to be entertained.  At the end of the day my brain is tired and I’m usually not in the mood for a documentary or some deep, soulful, foreign film where I actually have to read subtitles.  I just want to relax and not think!  Entertainment is my key goal in the movies.  I know that I’m not alone in this – make me laugh, crash-land on another planet, blow something up….whatever it is just make it interesting and take me out of my normal world.

There are so many great movie lines that span time.  I could quote a million of them from hundreds of my favorite, witty, movies.  When I watched The Notebook, I cried for two days. Two days!  Some movies just stick with us and change who we are.  I love how well you’ve outlined this fact.  I’m glad that you took the time to write about one of your greatest passions, for following our passions makes the world a better place.

So, next time we watch the same movie, please don’t think me ignorant for not noticing every little detail, such as the floral arrangement on the back wall in the middle of a fight scene!

I love how brilliant writers have given us so many lines that speak of how we are, how we feel, and how we want to become.  We are many times drawn into a film because we see ourselves in it. On that note, in the words of Jessica Rabbit: “I’m not bad. I’m just drawn that way.”