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A new place for short films

By Staff | May 31, 2013

Shepherdstown will welcome a new short film festival this summer.

The Cut to the Chase festival will make its debut this July, with organizers eager to offer Shepherdstown’s creative community a new venue for personal expression.

“This is such an eclectic community. So many people have something to say,” festival organizer, Natoma Reed-Vargason said.

Co-organizer, Bill Veldran said Cut to the Chase will showcase 10, eight minute films on any topic, produced with any medium.

Its about the content, he said.

A panel of three judges including, author and artist of “Argo,” fame, Tony Mendez, local photographer, Benita Keller and film producer and local business owner Lawrence Cumbo, will choose a winning film, based on each film’s message and nature.

“Everybody has an equal shot,” Reed-Vargason said.

Both Veldran and Reed-Vargason, who’ve been working in arts and events planning for decades, said Cut to the Chase is unique in that it celebrates the accessibility of the short filmmaking art form.

Accepting submissions until June 24, the Cut to the Chase organizers said they are interested in seeing films produced by both veterans and novices, those ranging in genre from comedy to drama, animation and live-action, and those shot with profession equipment or simply, a filmmakers IPhone.

“This is something anybody can do,” Reed-Vargason said.

Aside from the eight minute maximum limit for film length, the only other creative restriction on films is that they must in some way include the Cut to the Chase “key element,” for this year, the number “100.”

Based on the international short film festival “Tropefest” and its “signature item,” requirement, the key element must be included in each film to insure that it has been produced specifically for the Cut to Chase festival.

Veldran explained that the “100” element was chosen to honor Shepherdstown’s long running theater festival, CATF, which will coincide with Cut to Chase, and will celebrate its 100th play produced this summer.

“That’s a major accomplishment,” Vargason said of CATF.

Both Veldran and Vargason-Reed said they want Cut to the Chase to reach the success and longevity of the coinciding theater festival.

“Both of our events will be reason to come to Shepherdstown in the summer,” Veldran said about the future of Cut to the Chase.

Veldran, a resident of Shepherdstown since 1990 and Vargason a longtime resident of nearby Sharpsburg Md. said, they decided to team up for Cut to Chase because it was important to them to build something here at home in Shepherdstown.

“We’re connected to this town,” Reed-Vargason said

“It’s a good place for this.”

Cut to the Chase will held on July 13 and 14 at the Shepherdstown Opera House. Screenings with be held on Saturday and Sunday afternoon, with judging on Saturday evening. A People’s Choice award will be announced after Sundays screening. Festival winners will be awarded a cash prize.

Submissions may be mailed to C2C Film Festival at P.O. Box 1374 Shepherdstown, WV 25443.

Film submissions for Cut to the Chase must be received by June 24. The entry fee for submission is $25. More submission and payment details can be found by visiting the festivals web site at c2cfilmfestival.com