April 13 Gold Coast Film Fest strictly for laughs

Kevin Boehm, Gold Coast fest co-founder

You never know where relationships will take you.

In 2005, Mark Rewey and Greg Schroer wanted a place to showcase the short films they had made. They invited filmmaker friends to showcase theirs. About 40 people showed up at the Ambassador East.

In the meantime, Kevin Boehm met Rocco Cataldo. Cataldo is a director whose company, Potenza Productions, was doing some work for Modern Luxury Magazine and found himself at the Boka Restaurant Group, which Boehm co-owns. In the tradition of filmmaking legend clichés, Boehm asked Cataldo to look at a script he had written. That led to production of a few short films, which in turn led to finding a place to showcase them. 

In the tradition of filmmaking legend clichés, Boehm asked Cataldo to look at a script he had written. That led to production of a few short films, which in turn led to finding a place to showcase them.

By 2009, all four men were working together to make the Gold Coast Short Film Festival a major independent film event. Potenza Productions is a co-sponsor of the event.

Boehm, who executive produces the fest, which will take place at the Park West this Saturday, April 13, immediately opened entries up to all Chicago filmmakers. This year, the festival received about 200 entries, which Boehn, Rewey, Schroer and their team pared down to 20.

This wasn’t easy. Both Cataldo and Boehm said that the quality of the submitted films has gotten a lot better. But the team has found over the last few years that some films work better than others.

Changed the fest theme to strictly comedy shorts

“We figured out that the format that works best are comedy films that run three to seven minutes,” says Beohm. They’ve also found that “absurdity plays really well at this festival. The films get sillier and they get more absurd as time goes on.”

This realization led them to change the nature of the fest, soliciting only short comedy film.

“Even four years ago, it wasn’t strictly comedy,” says Boehm. “It was just a short film festival.” But when the non-comedy films were shown, “that’s when the energy would sag.

“We figured out who we were,” adds Boehm. “We’re a comedy film festival.”

They’ve also turned into a major event, quickly moving to and from the 350-seat Chicago Center for the Performing Arts to the 600-seat Royal George to the Park West, with its 700 seats.

“The mood and the vibe of the film festival is that it’s comedy, so it’s light, and it’s a party like atmosphere,” said Boehm. “People dress up, there’s some style to the event.”

Audience votes for winners by text

The doors open at 7 p.m., but the films don’t start screening till 9. Everybody in the audience votes. And this year, they’ll all be voting by text, so the results will be nearly immediate.

Fest goers will be able to choose winners in eight categories: Best Picture Long Form (films between 5 and 10 minutes), Best Picture Short Form (less then 5 minutes), Best Actress, Best Supporting Actress, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor, and Best Director and Best Screenplay.

After the winners are announced, The Boka Group will provide late night snacks for the after party. For more information, go to the Gold Coast Film Fest website.

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