It's cool to get hits on YouTube, fun to share your stuff on Facebook, but it turns out that there is nothing like having your sick, disturbing, funny, serious or shocking film on the big screen.
Last December, Hasalyn Harris and Logan Modine found that out when their little film festival exploded into a standing-room-only, turned-away-at-the-door affair at the Roxy.
"It's a primo event," said Harris, the KECI-TV journalist and filmmaker who is also co-owner, along with Modine, of Alone in a Forest, a film and film-promotion company in Missoula.
The winter showcase of Missoula films didn't just catch fire: It exploded. And it exploded right out of the Roxy and into the Wilma, where Harris and Modine are hosting the Spring Film Showcase on Friday.
The five-hour event will feature about 20 locally made films, ranging from a couple of minutes long to half an hour and in style from documentary to drama to horror to animation to ... well, you get the point.
Harris and Modine are both graduate students in the University of Montana's media arts department, where most of the films in Friday's showcase originate.
Undergraduates and graduates, with a sprinkling of faculty-made films; experimental and edgy and occasionally just plain bizarre.
Missoula is hungry for it all, both as filmmakers and as audiences who love this oh-so-outside-of-Hollywood stuff. The "shorts" format of the festival makes it accessible to young filmmakers who may not yet have the equipment, skills or vision for full-length features.
"Everybody wants to make a film, but to commit to a short film is a feasible thing," said Harris.
In this showcase, Alone in a Forest enlisted the help of Missoula Community Access Television, which has long worked with and trained burgeoning high school filmmakers.
So the first hour of the showcase, from 5 to 6 p.m., is dedicated solely to those films, complete with its own award ceremony.
Harris and Modine themselves will debut their third collaborative film, "Animus," which they describe as both a horror a tragedy, "with a cool, vintagy look," said Modine.
Besides making films, Alone in the Dark's chief goal right now is to "highlight the best films coming out of Missoula," said Harris.
Reporter Jamie Kelly can be reached at 523-5254 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.