A Muskogee Film Festival Filmmakers a New Stage
By Joel Everett

Reprinted from the March/April Issue of Oklahoma Today Magazine The Travel Issue www.oklahomatoday.com

SHIRON BUTTERFLY AND OSCAR RAYS BARE BONES INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL may not be the biggest independent film festival around, but its message is distinct. Set apart from its bigger cousins like Cannes, Sundance, and Austins South by Southwest Film Festival, the Muskogee event accepts entries only from films with budgets under $1 million. Additionally, an aspiring moviemaker can enter for around $50, and the host motel, Budget Inn, has rates that wont take the shirt off your back. Since most Bare Bones filmmakers dont have transportation, the motel owners have been know to wheel upstart artists around town for nothing.

Last year was the first for Oklahomas only international film festival, and around thirty-five entries were screened at the three-day affair held at Northeastern State Universitys Muskogee campus and at the Rays official festival headquarters, Darkwood Motion Pictures Independent Studios, just off Broadway in downtown Muskogee. Entries came from several states as well as an import from Spain with English subtitles. Most of the entries were shorts under sixty minutes and made on skeletal budgets, some as little as $750.

Several years ago, the Rays made their way back to Muskogee. Both returned to the area because of family ties, mostly out of loyalty and love of family. In 1995, they learned a movie, Tuskegee Airmen, was being filmed at Hatbox field, a vintage airfield in the area. After auditioning and hanging out on the set, they were hooked. We stayed longer than anybody, Butterfly says. (Butterfly was cast in a small role which was eventually cut.) They had the bug. Today, the Rays live on a farm outside Muskogee and work in a variety of creative areas: freelance writing, training and promoting local and area film talent, and movie-making and festival production.

None of the filmmakers who attended last years festival had ever been to Oklahoma. Butterfly laughingly recalls a conversation with Doug Olney, executive producer of a film called Boys and Girls: The Game, before he and three co-filmmakers flew into Tulsa and rented a car to attend Bare Bones. People are scare, Butterfly says of some festival participants. They say, Were gonna go through farmland? You dont put city folk out in the middle of the country and say, Find your way for forty-five miles. Theyre scare of wide-open country.

With the recent success of low-budget indies like The Blair Witch Project and Sling Blade, entries and attendance for small film fests like Bare Bones will likely be on the upswing (the Rays expect at least a thousand).

Accordingly, festival-goers may get a chance to see the next $200 million box-office blockbuster. A small sample of films on slate at Bare Bones 2001: a world-premiere feature from Los Angeles called Good For Nothing, a high-drama feature about a song gone wrong in Track 16, and a British Claymation dramedy short entitled Stanley. Like all good promoters, the Rays dont give away the endings.



By Wilhelm Murg

Reprinted from the November 2000 Vol. 5 no.11 issue of
INFINITY PRESS Oklahomas No. 1 Entertainment Magazine

Shiron Butterfly and Oscar Ray are currently calling for entries for the second annual Bare Bones 2001 International Independent Film Festival, which will take place in Muskogee on April 18-22, 2001. INFINITY PRESS will proudly sponsor this years festival.

This is our fifth year of Darkwood Motion Pictures and Productions, Festival Director Shiron said in an IP interview. We make independent films on a low budget; under a million dollars. We started Bare Bones, a non-profit organization a year ago.

Other local film groups have been very supportive of the festival, but their focus has always been to bring in the big studios. In other words your bare bones, no-money operation doesnt sound good to them. Bare Bones only shows films that were made for under a million dollars.

Last year was just awesome for a first time effort. We had fifty different films from fifty different cities and six foreign countries. People came from all over, from big towns like New York and L.A. coming to Muskogee. We formed a network from there.

Shiron and Oscar are already preparing for the 2001 festival. The Bare Bones Festival accepts films on 8, 16 & 35mm film, plus videotape, both live action and animation in any genre. The fee for a feature entry is $50 or less, and $25 or less for shorts. There is also a category for youth and senior films and screenplays, but note that the screenplay must be written according to industry standards. Both Shiron and Director Ray note that it is impossible to sell a screenplay that is not formatted in the standard. Their absolute final deadline for accepting entries is January 15, 2001.

The festival takes place at Northeastern State University, Muskogee Campus and ShadowWood Mall, in Muskogee.

Shiron comes from a business background and with the artistic vision of Ray, Darkwood has been a very successful company, bringing in bedtime films for Cinemax at under one million dollars each, and sometimes at amazing speed, like one film that they were only allowed a week to film. As a company, they had to train their actors and crew from the ground up in order to create their company.

The company is strongly committed to the idea of making films locally. For the upcoming festival, Shiron is attempting to get a special award sponsored for the best screenplay with an Oklahoma location, in hopes that it will bring more film dollars to our state.

Shiron and Oscars attitude toward film is refreshingly practical and down to earth. People are looking at us and they know things are happening. People are coming together to support one another, networking and sharing information. Thats the way it grows. Every time we get another person thats writing a screenplay, or turning a novel into a movie, thats all good stuff. The Bare Bones 2000 festival was reported as being very fun and it got a lot of small filmmakers noticed. For more information check out their website at http://www.barebonesfilmfest.wxs.org




A "patient" awaits the outcome of cosmetic surgery in Elizabeth Sher's documentary "Younger, Thinner, Smoother," one of dozens of films presented at the Bare Bones 2001 International Film Festival.


JASIN HARDY, 17 and ECHO SMITH, 15 Bare Bones Staged Reading participants are featured in this article spotlighting Darkwood Film Arts Institute and the Bare Bones International Film Festival.



BOYFRIEND, GIRLFRIEND: Another showbiz pair, Adele D'Man and Peter H. Goldberg, are graduates of Bostons Emerson College. They met on campus, and the rest is history in the making. The old school on Beacon Street has turned out the likes of Norman Lear and Henry Winkler. Eagle photo by A.E. Dunn.

Among the more than 60 feature films int eh festival was one produced by a young husband and wife team who met while they were courting at Boston's Emerson College, known for preparing it's students for television, film, and theater careers. Adele D'Man and Peter H. Goldberg, representing BFGF (Boyfriend, Girlfriend) Productions, hail from Forest Hills, N.Y.

"The American Dream" was one of their films featured at the Muskogee festival. The world premiere of "Only Life" was held April 15 at the Clearview Cinema during the New York Internaitonal Film & Video Festival. Adele was writer-director, and Peter was executive producer.

Of the 60 featured films at least 20 were world premieres for the 2001 festival. Most of the entries were shorts under 60 minutes and made on skeletal budgets, some as little as $750.

Bare Bones Film Festival 2001 will be held April 17-21, at a yet-to-be-selected facility in northeastern Oklahoma.

The deadline for entries is Dec. 31.



By Cathy Spaulding
Phoenix Staff Writer

At age 16, Arkansas high school junior Aaron Higgins already boasts extensive film making experience. "His dad got a movie camera in 1990, and he automatically figured it out," explained his cousin, Chad Haney, 18, of Glenpool. "We started doing murder mystery movies and playing cops and stabbing each other up. His dad would film us with the camera."

Then, "I picked up the camera when I was 11 and did a 20-minute-long comedy called the 'Life of Joe', Higgins said. "And ever since, we started messing with different effects."

The two teens will debut their latest project, a music video, this week at Muskogee's Bare Bones 2001 International Movie Festival. The five day festival, which begins Wednesday, will present some 70 films including short and feature-length movies, videos, documentaries, animation and experimental movies. There also will be film making and screen writing seminars, a tour of area movie locations and invitation-only junior film festivals for grades six to eight, and nine to 12.

One thing the films have in common is that they were made on a low budget, said festival director Shiron Ray."All these projects are bare bones," she said. "That means someone wrote it, shot it, acted in it and produced it all for less than $1 million." She said the longer feature-length films shown at Bare Bones average $50,000 to make. "At the larger film festivals, they all say the cheaper movies cost less than $2 million," she said.

Haney and Higgins make no bones about their low-budget project. "The filming didn't cost us anything but gas money," Higgins said, adding that they filmed with their own viedotape camera. The Fayetteville, Ark., resident said they did most of the filming in his back yard and in streets near his house.

Haney, who graduates next month from Glenpool High School, said filming took two days. "We did most of the filming hte first day," he said. "Most of the second day was spent finding a bridge. I jump off a bridge in the video."

The video uses the song "Home" from the rock group Stained. Higgins said he and Haney have not contacted the group about the video. "It's about a guy who runs away from home," he said. "I really like the lyrics."

Higgins said he and his cousin make a good film team. "He's pretty much like a brother to me," he said. "We do the films together, agree on everything, like on what shot to do. WHen I'm here by myself, I can't find anyone to film with. So, it is awesome when he is over here, or I'm over there. We actually get stuff done."

Haney said they learn a lot, as well. "We watch so many movies, and really dissect them," he said, adding that when they find an interesting shot in a movie, they try it out themselves. The cousins say they plan to continuing developoing their craft. Haney said he plans to attend Brigham Young University and major in film. "They have an awesome facility with their own studio, their own equipment," he said. Higgins isn't sure about college.

"I'm not really brainy enough for college," he said. "Maybe a film school somewhere." Of course, the Bare Bones Festival caters and encourages films of all ages, Ray said.


Of course, the Bare Bones Festival caters and encourages films of all ages, Ray said.

For example, 57-year-old California filmmaker Elizabeth Sher offers a look at baby boomers' obsession with cosmetic surgery with her film "Younger, Thinner, Smoother." "It's a look at how baby boomers are kind of driving the cosmetic surgery market," Sher said. "It shows how the boomers were set up to be these ever-young people who would never grow old."

This humorous look at cosmetic surgery comes on the heels of her two films about men and women facing menopause. Sher said that while doing "Younger, Thinner, Smoother," two themes struck her. "I have no horror stories; the people who go are generally satisfied," she said. "But most discover that they have a longer recovery time after surgery than they thought. The other thing is that we're all getting older no matter what we do."

A Berkeley resident, Sher teaches at the California College of Arts and Crafts. In addition to hours of movies, the festival also offers seminars on making films.

Independent filmmaker and author Rick Schmidt will lead a session, "How to Write, Produce, Direct, Shoot, Edit and Promote a feature-length movie for less than $15,000," from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday at the NSU campus. The seminar will focus on finding or writing a story that can be produced on a tight budget and rallying the filmmaking team through creative contracts.

Also on Saturday, screenwriter Richard Krevolin will lead a screenwriting seminar from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The morning session, featuring the hit movie "City Slickers," will focus on what makes a good story a great film. Students are asked to see the movie before the seminar.

Afternoon sessions will focus on storytelling and how to handle business affairs. A session at 2 p.m. Sunday, limited to 12 people, will focus on how to develop and market scripts and how to turn ideas into commercial screenplays. People also will have an opportunity to pitch their story.


From Staff Reports
MUSKOGEE- Bare Bones 2001, Oklahoma's only international film festival, rolls its opening credits on Wednesday and continues through April 22 at the Northeastern State University Conference Center in Muskogee.

The event, which showcases feature-length, short, animation, experimental and documentary films, specifically focuses on filmmaking on a shoestring budget-$1 million or less. Now in it's second year, Bare Bones offers a variety of film-related events, including a locations tour of northeast Oklahoma, staged screenplay readings, panel discussions and master classes for screenwriting and independent filmmaking.

Bare Bones is the brainchild of Oscar and Shiron Ray, the husband-wife team behind the Muskogee-based Darkwood Motion Pictures. Ray, a former senior executive with a financial services company, resigned his position after completing his first screenplay, "Night Race." Ray has authored more than 200 screenplay treatments and is now directing and starring in his third independent feature film, "The Betrayers."

Low-budget film auteurs can learn important lessons from Rick Schmidt, a 25-year veteran of low-budget filmmakin and author of "Feature Filmmaking at Used-Car Prices." Schmidt will present a session titled, "How to Write, Produce, Direct, Shoot, Edit and Promote a Feature-Length movie for less than $15,000." at 9 a.m. April 21.

The session will focus on selecting and writing a story that can be produced on a limited budget, assembling a filmmaking team, shooting and editing and making a collaborative feature. Schmidt's first film, 1975's "A Man, a Woman and a Killer," was a collaborative effort co-directed with Wayne Wang, who went on to direct 1993's "The Joy Luck Club" and 1999's "Anywhere But Here."

University of Southern California Film School professor Richard Krevolin will offer a day-long session on screenwriting. Author of "Screenwriting From the Soul," Krevolin will screen the 1991 comedy "City Slickers" at 9a.m. April 21, then discuss what contributed to the success of the screenplay.

During the afternoon session from 1p.m. to 4 p.m., Krevolin will discuss "Advanced Storytelling and the Business of Show Business." During this session, Krevolin will provide advice on dealing with agents, lawyers, managers, contests and the pros and cons of alternative film markets.

Feature films being screened at the festival include "Long Lost Love" at 8 p.m. Wednesday, "Harbored Thoughts" at 7:15 p.m. Thursday and "Fade to Black" at 10 p.m. Saturday. Among the participants are Adele D'Man, who has directed, written, produced and edited seven short films and will be screening her latest, "Only Life," at 9:15p.m. April 21.