Erica Duffy, a transplant from San Francisco, has been part of the Chicago film community for 6 years and counting. No stranger to film production, she’s the proud owner of Camera Ambassador, a local rental house in Chicago. Camera Ambassador provides resources and services to filmmakers such as workshops and screenings.
The space also hosts screenings of unfinished work to solicit feedback from other filmmakers. As if that’s not enough, Duffy has decided to take on the role of Executive Director for the Midwest Film Festival (MFF), formerly known as the Midwest Independent Film Festival (MIFF).
For those who don’t know, MFF is a Chicago-based film festival known for featuring local midwest talent, complimenting an array of independent films submitted to MFF from all over the country. Each month’s lineup features a theme or genre.
What’s exciting this year is that MFF will only be showcasing only short films each month, as opposed to their usual mix of shorts, feature, pilots, etc.
According to Erica: “We decided for 2020 to do short form content because we really want to showcase more filmmakers, and we also want to cultivate a relationship with different subsections of the industry.”
MFF started 2020 off with all comedic short films last Saturday, and will be moving into the Female Filmmaker scene in their next showcase, on April 22, 2020.
Other changes this year include the venue, and the festival dates. In the past, the Midwest Independent Film Festival, now Midwest Film Fest, would be held at the same theater on the first Tuesday of each month. For 2020, all that changed; this year’s opener took place at the well known and beautiful Chicago Cultural Center.
Bucking tradition, it was held on a Saturday so those who work weekdays would have a chance to enjoy a day of networking and entertainment. There was stand up comedy, a charging station designed by Invisible Landscapes, and multiple vendor tables including SAG-AFTRA, IATSE 476, the Illinois Film Office, and Periscope‘s Scott Dixon who created the opening animations and Ryan Stemple who created the DVD of the shorts.
After the festival, a reception was held at Lucky Strike in Streeterville. In the future, Duffy hopes viewers and filmmakers will all take advantage of the networking opportunities each festival date, since each ticket includes entry to the post-screening afterparty.
If you’re interested in learning more about festival dates, themes, or to submit, make sure to check out their newly vamped website at www.MidwestFilm.com, or find them on all major social media platforms.
As for Duffy, staying true to her passion, she’s recently wrapped a documentary series as producer, More Than a Cowboy, that shot in New Mexico last fall as producer aside Logan Stone, Brandon Werlin, Dan Evans, and Director of Photography Matt Williams.
Now available on Amazon Video, the mini-series follows UFC fighter, Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone, as he prepares for the fight of his life.
Katharin “K” Mraz, is the owner of Ladie K Productions, Inc., Smart Pretty Designs, Inc., and Creative Works Media, Inc. Based out of Chicago, Illinois, she spends her time as a freelance Producer, Writer, Director, Production Designer, Art Director, Assistant Director/UPM, Actress, and Model with a focus on independent feature films and narrative shorts highlighting diversity or women in the industry. In her free time she is a student and performer at The Second City, mentors young aspiring filmmakers, models, and actors, and is an active advocate for equal rights for LGBTQ, POC, and those under-represented in the media.