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Dennis Perkins

Dennis Perkins is a freelance writer who lives in Auburn with his lovely wife, the writer Emily L. Stephens, and their cat, Cooper. When not watching all the movies ever made or digging up stories about the Maine film scene, he can be found writing for the AV Club and elsewhere. The rest of the time, he's worrying about the Red Sox.

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Posted: April 27, 2015

Maine Mayhem short film festival showcases next-gen filmmakers from SMCC

Written by: Dennis Perkins
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The snow is melted, the birds are singing and all of Portland is breathing a sigh of relief with the coming of a breezy Maine May. But don’t get too comfy – with the return of spring comes the return of … Maine Mayhem!

No, Maine Mayhem is not the title of the next Avengers movie – although that would be pretty cool. Instead, it’s the annual student film festival comprised of the final short film projects from Southern Maine Community College’s advanced video and audio production applications course, screening at 7 p.m. May 5 at the Nickelodeon Cinema in Portland. Begun five years ago by SMCC’s chair of Communication and New Media Corey Norman as a way to showcase his students’ semester-long filmmaking efforts, Maine Mayhem has grown into an entity of its own, attracting Maine film fans ever-eager to see what the next generation of Maine filmmakers are up to. According to Norman, audiences are in for a typically rich and energetic evening of Maine movies.

“It’s eight months from pre-production to post-production to make these films,” explains Norman. “It goes from an initial, ethereal idea, and, as they work, you can watch their confidence grow and grow. Bringing their vision to life, making tough decisions – it empowers them. By this point, I don’t really consider them students any more – they’re independent filmmakers, ready to go out into the greater film scene.”

So what has all that hard work wrought for this year’s Maine Mayhem? Norman runs down this year’s films:

“Dynamic” (from Alexander Balzano and Elizabeth Pottle). “A modern-day ‘Karate Kid.’ It was really cool to see a student go all in and try to make a martial arts movie with choreography and everything.”

“The Big Night” (Griffin Russell, Anthony Vangelli and Jesse Hermida). “A fun horror comedy about two down-in-the-dumps twenty-somethings who, in order to make rent, rob a house – things go horribly wrong.”

“At Arm’s Length” (Sean Moore and Taylor Lawrence). This film about a relationship gone wrong was profiled in this column back in February.

“Necromania” (Guf Minnotte, Jessica Bedell and Adam Rumery). “It’s about some students who get involved with drugs and devil worship.”

“Nogitsune” (Brianna Michaud). “A group of documentary filmmakers accidentally stumble upon a nogitsune, which is a malicious fox spirit from Japan.”

“Life of Change” (Isaiah Lemay). “About two students with radically different religious beliefs coming together in a time of need.”

“Mama’s Favorite” (Amanda Lagrange). “The past comes back to haunt the family in this short horror film.”

While Norman credits his growing fame as a horror director (“The Hanover House,” “The Barn”) with attracting Maine Mayhem’s usual crop of scary shorts, he’s excited to see the students branching out this year. “I don’t know if they’re just going for a good grade,” laughs Norman. “As a horror guy, I tend to attract the horror students. But it’s really cool to see a film about religious differences, our LGBT-friendly film, a martial arts movie. I always like to see the diversity.”

As ever, Norman urges everyone to come out to see his students’ varied offerings – especially the filmmakers of the future. (He’d estimate this year’s feature-length program would top out at about a PG-13 rating.) “Ultimately, (Maine Mayhem) is about sharing the work with the greater community. But for aspiring filmmakers, seeing how they can develop in just two years is phenomenal. It’s also about showing children or teens that they, too, can make movies right here in Maine with the proper support.”

Maine Mayhem screens at the Nick on May 5 at 7 p.m. Additional screenings will take place at the Magic Lantern Theater in Bridgton May 6, and at the Central Gallery in Bangor May 8. See the Maine Mayhem Facebook page for details: facebook.com/MaineMayhem.

COMING TO LOCAL SCREENS

Nickelodeon Cinema, Portland  | patriotcinemas.com
May 1: “Avengers: Age Of Ultron.” While this guaranteed mega-blockbuster seems the opposite of “indie film,” its indie pedigree is solid, with “Buffy The Vampire Slayer” and “Firefly” creator Joss Whedon once again at the helm of this strikingly good superhero franchise. See, Hollywood – give a great filmmaker (who’s also a major comics geek) free reign, and you make your money while giving fans what they want. Everyone wins!

Railroad Square Cinema, Waterville | railroadsquarecinema.com
May 6: “Cane Toads.” When and where else are you gonna get the chance to see this eccentric 1988 Australian documentary on the big screen? Can Toads are ugly, voracious, sexually prolific, and taking over Australia! Introduced to eat pests, they quickly mated their way into the biggest ecological threat Down Under has ever seen! Cane toads are coming!

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