Miguel Berg is out to revitalize the film industry in South Carolina.
After attaining a degree in Media Arts from the University of South Carolina in 2008, he is now the head of Frosty Palm Studios. His current passion project is The Greenville International Film Festival, April 25-28. Venues will include Zen, Centre Stage, Coffee Underground, the Upcountry History Museum, and the Ray and Joan Krok Corps Community Center. Categories include full length Features, Shorts, Documentary, Animation, Green, Latino, Native American/Indigenous, Spiritual, Student, International, and Emerging Filmmakers. There will be workshops, open to the public, with industry experts focusing on marketing and filmmaking tools for the up-and-comer.
Although this is the first year, there’s already plans for the future. “With the film festival,” says Berg, “we not only want to expose talent but create the infrastructure to invite Hollywood in. This should be a place for film to be celebrated as a positive thing for the community. Providing jobs and spurring the local economy are just some of our goals.” There are ongoing productions in Atlanta and North Carolina, such as the recent Hunger Games, but Berg says South Carolina is missing out on a huge industry. “There’s already an international culture in Greenville,” says Berg. “There’s already a theater aspect of Greenville, and an art district, but the one that hasn’t gotten a lot of attention is film.”
Diversity is a big concern of Berg’s as well, with local representatives from the Eastern Cherokee Federation, and members of Latino community, sitting on the committee.
Although he was raised in South Carolina, he was born in Bogotá, Columbia and recently attended Colombia’s First Audiovisual Business Roundtable Conference after he and and 21 other international production, distribution, and media companies were invited by Former President of the Republic of Colombia Dr. Alvaro Uribe Velez. “What I strongly feel you have with the Latino culture in particular,” says Berg, “is a positive advantage to acquire an actor or filmmaker that is prepped with dealing with the adversities of life and work with someone that has strong ethical values and morals as well as a plethora of life experience that is unmatched simply due to three factors - passion, patience, and perseverance.”
The submission process for GVIFF was vigorous, with 185 films submitted from 33 countries worldwide in just two months. Now that it’s finally seeing fruition, highlights of the festival will include films starring Lauren Holly (NCIS), Wilford Brimley (Cocoon), Jason Dohring (Veronica Mars), and Masi Oka (Heroes). The committee judging the films includes: academics, an Academy Award winner, screenwriters, composers, and a producer on The Lord of the Rings, among others. Local films highlight waterskiing in the Greenwood area, “green burials” in Westminster, animation out of Clemson’s Digital Performing Arts Program, and even a freshman from Riverside High School in Greer named James Wiley.
Last week I talked with James Wiley by e-mail about his short film "Substreet Time!":
Bart: Tell us A little bit about your personal background.
James: Originally from North Carolina, I grew up playing almost every kind of sport, and over the last three years focused my athletic time into golf. I'm on the JV golf team at Riverside High School, and we're in the middle of golf season now.I enjoy volunteering in the summers - teaching golf and core values to kids in the First Tee of Greenville classes.I know my blessings come from God.
Bart: What is your background in film. When did you become interested in the medium? Have you had a mentor to guide you along the way?
James: From early childhood, I had a background in photography. I've always been fascinated with how you can make a camera see what YOU see. My elementary school gave me a science fair trophy for the project I did on aperture. One summer, I took a camera class at the Roper Mountain Science Center, where we got to make a working pinhole camera from a coffee can.I think that my previous experience climbing that learning curve in Photoshop (doing graphics and edits) helps with the software I use these days in motion film work. I became interested in shooting video while at Riverside Middle School. Tech has improved so much in recent years, and I found that the old family camcorder just wasn't getting the job done. So I saved up for a year to buy myself a new video camera. My drama teacher, Mrs. Heidi Kurtz, Director of Theatre Arts at Riverside Middle, was supportive of my video work of the drama productions. People got a kick out of a trailer I put on Facebook for a DVD I made of the school play. Trailers are a lot of fun to make.
Bart: How did you meet, become interested in, the Substreet Parkour Team? How long have they been around in Greenville?
James: I became acquainted with Substreet while I was downtown Greenville, filming the launch video of HeadStrong Generation (a Greenville County-based teen organization). Substreet Parkour has been around in Greenville since 2007. (Parkour is a physical discipline in which the participants perform efficient movements around obstacles. Parkour was originally developed in France.)
Bart: Talk about the making of the film. How long did it take? What is the pre-production process like? Did you do it completely on your own?
James: I filmed all of the footage during one Saturday practice session of Substreet Parkour. It was a blast. Yes, I just used my own footage.I like to experiment with interesting camera angles. I spent most of the time lying in the grass during that shoot. It turned out that filming from the low-angle position that day really highlighted facial expressions of the guys, and I hope it shows people some of the intense concentration and dedication that goes into parkour movements.
Bart: What sort of equipment was used in the post-production process -editing software on your computer, at school? How does youtube and social networking benefit up and coming filmmakers?
James: For the editing on this project, I used my Sony Vegas Platinum 11 software on my computer. Editing takes longer than the filming, but I love that process.YouTube is huge, in more ways than just the obvious mode of getting your videos seen by lots of people. For example, it also provides a very expeditious way for artists to communicate with one another. I've gotten license-to-use permission for music from several artists this way. They like the video exposure, and I credit them with the social media contacts they want listed (SoundCloud, Twitter, Facebook, website, YouTube,etc). It's win-win.
Bart: How did the selection process work with the Greenville International Film Festival? Did you submit the film yourself, or a teacher? How did you hear about it?
James: My film was sent on to the 2012 Greenville International Film Festival by the Upstate Youth Film Festival (UYFF), where it was screened this month. I heard of the Upstate Youth Film Festival through my former drama teacher, who also taught James Thompson, the executive producer of the UYFF.
Bart: Do you envision a future in film? As a music video director?
James: There are so many possibilities in film work. So far I've been self-taught, and I'm really looking forward to studying next year under the instruction of Mr. Eric Rogers, who teaches the Digital Filmmaking program at the Fine Arts Center.
Bart: What are you working on now?
James: Right now I'm packed with school work and golf practice. When time opens up this summer, I'm planning to produce a music video for a friend who is a very talented rap artist, as well make some commercials and short films.