Greg Chaney turned the movie-viewers into the movie stars — or at least high-profile cameos.
Chaney’s short film, “The Quest For Lee” closed out the first night of the Juneau Underground Motion Picture Society Winter Film Festival, and alternative versions of it closed each screening of the collection of Juneau-related shorts.
“I’ve made a baseline movie, and what I’m going to do is drop footage of audiences into it,” Chaney said. “Each movie will be different. It’s not quite interactive, but it’s quite similar to an interactive experience.”
Early arrivals to the festival were asked if they would like to be involved in the making of the movie and willing participants were taken back to a green screen, outfitted in plastic viking helmets covered in re-writable discs and asked to deliver lines with minimal context and maximum emotion.
“We’re right at the action point,” Chaney said after shooting footage of festival attendee Karl Bausler. “I’m excited and a little bit nervous but hopeful.”
A crowd reaction shot was also filmed before the first short was shown.
— Ben Hohenstatt (@BenHohenstatt) January 18, 2019
The end result was a complete and knowingly campy science fiction film with “Mystery Science Theater 3000” flavor.
Chaney has been a longtime participant in the summer and winter JUMP festivals that began back in 2002. He said it provided an excellent platform for his outside-of-the-box vision.
“The JUMP festival is the perfect venue for this kind of thing,” Chaney said.
Nearly 20 years
Pat Race, event organizer, said each JUMP festival averages about 15 films —there were 16 shown Thursday —and with two festivals per year for 17 years the screenings have put hundreds of local projects on the silver screen.
This year’s collection of shorts showcased the variety allowed by the format.
The shorts included everything from the surreal computer animated farce “Halloween the 13th” made by James Hunter Greene, to Andrew Okpeaha Maclean’s well-made dramedy, “Feels Good” about an altruistic dirtbag.
It also included the sincere and informative “Ocean Station November” made by Damon Stuebner.
Stuebner has made multiple films in the past, but Thursday was the first time one of his works had been shown at a JUMP film festival.
His 12-minute documentary “Ocean Station November” was one of two entries that exceeded the festival’s suggested 10-minute runtime limit — “Feels Good” was the other. Stuebner’s film was also one of the night’s standouts.
It tells the story of Pan Am Flight 6, which ditched in the Pacific Ocean in 1956. All 31 passengers on board the plane survived thanks to quick response from the Coast Guard.
The documentary included in this JUMP lineup featured an interview with recently deceased Juneauite Doak Walker, who was among the Coast Guard members who ensured no lives were lost.
It also included an interview with Richard Olson — who was also part of the Coast Guard’s response to the ditched plane — archival footage and a snippet of a news reel.
Stuebner said it took “too long” to complete the project, which translates to about three years.
Time and location played a major role in why Stuebner decided to submit “Ocean Station November” to the hometown festival.
“I had just finished the film,” Stuebner said. “It was very convenient timing.”
• Contact arts and culture reporter Ben Hohenstatt at 523-2243 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @BenHohenstatt.