Dam Short Film Fest brings virtual reality to Boulder City

For a four-day celebration of cinema with the word “short” in its name, the Dam Short Film Festival certainly takes a long time to produce.

“It’s just silly how much work it takes,” admits Lee Lanier, who co-founded the festival with his wife, Anita. “But we love it. We do it because we’re passionate about it.”

Lanier’s schedule had him working year-round, “a couple of hours each day with a few weeks off here and there,” to prepare for the fest, the 14th installment of which will take place Thursday through Sunday at the Boulder Theatre, 1225 Arizona Street, in Boulder City.

It’s a schedule that would take its toll on anyone, let alone someone such as Lanier, who’s been a professional animator and visual effects artist for the past quarter century. In addition to writing “two huge books” over the past year, he created an animated virtual reality short “just to catch up on the technology.” That film, “Welcome to Your Own Private Hell,” will be presented along with other free VR content in the festival’s inaugural virtual reality lounge.

“It’s kind of experimental this year,” Lanier says. “We’re introducing our audience to VR.”

From 2 to 6 p.m. each day of the festival, attendees can strap on a headset at one of four stations in the lobby of the Boulder Dam Hotel and sample the curated content.

“This is a test year for us, to (see) what the demand is, what the desire is and how much enjoyment people get out of it,” Lanier says. “And if it turns out to be successful, then we’ll actually add it as a full submission category next year.”

Virtual reality, he says, is a great fit for a festival focusing on short films. “VR doesn’t really support very long formats yet. People get sick, get disoriented. So, something six to eight minutes long is perfectly fine for a VR short.”

Lanier’s experiences with virtual reality mirror those with the festival — the emerging medium also is a lot of work.

“It’s not very standardized right now,” he says of VR. “Any filmmaker out there who’s working on this right now is figuring it out as they go. And they’re going to be making some stuff up as they go.”

To produce the roughly three-minute film, an animated piece set in a dungeon, Lanier worked on it a little each day for about three months. That, combined with his day job, led to his turning all of this year’s programming over to festival director John LaBonney. “I’ve gotten to the point where I totally trust John’s decision making,” Lanier says.

This year’s festival kicks off at noon Thursday with its first environmental block, “Our Ocean Environment.” The traditional crowd favorite “Underground: The Naughty Side of the DSFF” is scheduled for 9:15 p.m. Saturday.

“I Got You Babe,” writer-director Ashton Avila’s drama inspired by Claudia Reott’s 1965 dash to Las Vegas to marry her boyfriend so he wouldn’t be sent to Vietnam, is part of the “The American Experience” block starting at 5:30 p.m. Thursday. And “The Moulin Rouge: A Fight for the West Side,” directed by Review-Journal videographer Rachel Ashton, is among the entries in the Nevada Filmmakers block at 9:30 p.m. Saturday. (For a complete schedule and ticket information, see damshortfilm.org.)

Lanier’s stepping back from programming the Dam Short Film Festival is part of a plan to ensure its future. “The long-term goal is to make the festival strong enough that it can out-survive any single person,” he explains. “And that’s something that we have to continue with board development and staff development.”

A number of the valley’s film festivals have ground to a halt over the years, Lanier says, because “a lot of times they become too reliant on one, two or three people. And when those people get burned out, that thing disappears.

“It’s just so hard to keep working that hard and giving back that much to the community. So it’s really important that you figure out ways to continue the legacy by bringing other people in and finding people that appreciate your vision. It’s a challenge.”

Like everything else involved with the festival, it’s also a lot of work.

Contact Christopher Lawrence at clawrence@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-4567. Follow @life_onthecouch on Twitter.

ad-high_impact_4
Entertainment
Artists from Cirque du Soleil contribute art to Las Vegas art exhibit
Artists from Cirque du Soleil contribute art to Las Vegas gallery exhibit
Red Plate on the Las Vegas Strip serves a cocktail made with blooming jasmine tea
Red Plate on the Las Vegas Strip serves a cocktail made with jasmine tea
Benny the Ice Skating Dog
Benny is a Las Vegas Labrador who was rescued by former pro skater Cheryl Del Sanyo, and trained to ice skate. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The Nevada State Museum
The Nevada State Museum of Las Vegas, located at the Springs Preserve, covers all eras of the state, from prehistoric to today.
Throw a better dinner party
Cash appears at Baseball Winter Meetings
Lights FC mascot Cash plays the electronic drums at the EZ Inflatables’ booth on Tuesday at the Baseball Winter Meetings trade show at Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino.
5 albums to soundtrack your holiday gatherings in style
1. Various Artists, “Holidays Rule," with Rufus Wainwright, The Shins, Calexico and more. 2. Various Artists, “We Wish You a Metal Xmas and a Headbanging New Year," with Lemmy Kilmister, Alice Cooper, Chuck Billy and others. 3. Various Artists, “Christmas on Death Row," featuring Snoop Dogg and Nate Dogg to name but a few. 4. Bright Eyes, “A Christmas Album.” 5. Various Artists, "The Motown Christmas Album." (Jason Bracelin/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Inside the kitchen at Springs Preserve
The staff of Divine Events do party preparation in the kitchen at Divine Cafe at Springs Preserve. With nine parties the following day, this is a particularly busy time for the crew. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
WinterFest
WinterFest in Henderson.
Miss Rodeo America Fashion Show
The 28 women contestants of Miss Rodeo America compete in a fashion show at the Tropicana on Dec. 7, 2018.
Tournament Of Kings Holiday Show
Wizards and warriors are ready for the holidays at Excalibur's Tournament of Kings Holiday Dinner Show.
Take a dive with the Silverton mermaids
A visit to the Silverton Casino Hotel is not complete without taking in the popular, and very unique, mermaid show.
Cowboys and western aficionados can buy virtually anything at Cowboy Christmas
Vegas Golden Knights Christmas Display
In the Las Vegas Valley, the chances of getting a white Christmas are slim. But this year, you can have a “Knight” Christmas. A Henderson resident has a Christmas lights display that is synchronized to the entrance music for the Golden Knights. GG Misa’s Knights light show is played every 30 minutes from 5 to 10 nightly. His light show consists of two songs: Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas Is You” and the entrance music, “Le Castle Vania,” from the movie “John Wick.” The display is located at 730 Bollons Island St. (Richard Brian/Las Vegas Reivew-Journal)
Holiday Hooch At El Cortez is Just in Time For Repeal Day And Christmas
Holiday Hooch At El Cortez Is Just In Time For Repeal Day And Christmas. Janna Karel/Las Vegas Review-Journal
TV's LGBT superheroes
Green Valley Ranch's Winter's Village
The Mob Museum
Best Friend Menu Reveal Wednesday
Chef Roy Choi tells us what to expect from Wednesday’s Facebook Live Menu Reveal for his new Park MGM restaurant Best Friend. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Quick Chat With Criss Angel
James D. Gish and Susan Anton rehearse
Susan Anton will be special guest at James D. Gish’s holiday concerts Dec. 7 at Summerlin Library and Dec. 9 at Clark County Library. (John Przybys/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Bellagio Winter Wonderland
"Majestic Holiday Magic" at the Bellagio Conservatory.
Underwater Santa At The Silverton
Santa takes a dive Sunday, December 2, at the Silverton Casino Hotel. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Cowabunga Bay Christmas Town
Las Vegas Natural History Museum
Las Vegas Natural History Museum, which opened in 1991, has exhibits of mechanical dinosaurs and taxidermied animals, along with live snakes, fish and sharks. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Magical Forest Lights
Cirque Du Soleil Performers Team Up For New Show "Kinekt"
Through dance, acrobatics and aerial arts, “Kinekt” tells a story all too familiar to modern families: how to maintain a human connection in the digital age. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Ethel M Holiday Cactus Garden
The Pinball Hall of Fame in Las Vegas
The Pinball Hall of Fame was created by Tim Arnold and opened in 2006. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Jump! The Ultimate Dog Show at Springs Preserve in Las Vegas
Trainer Lou “Mack” McCammon guides several rescue dogs through a series of tricks and jumps two shows a day weekends through December at the Springs Preserve in Las Vegas. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
TOP NEWS
News Headlines
Add Event
Home Front Page Footer Listing
Circular
You May Like

You May Like