But roughly a third of the nearly 140 entries for the second annual festival are from eastern North Carolina, a strategy in the planning, says the professor of broadcasting at ECU.
"What we want to do first is try to get people involved in making films here in North Carolina," he said.
One way the planners focused on this goal was through an expansion of prizes. The festival, which runs Sept. 25-27 at the Greenville Convention Center, will award $1,000 to a filmmaker from eastern North Carolina. This includes the 41 counties east of I-95.
This is just one change the festival has undergone. Within just a year of the festival's debut, entries into the contest have nearly doubled, Lee said.
Changes facilitating that increase include the expansion of the allowed film length from 10 minutes or less to up to 30 minutes.
"We wanted to increase the size and scope of the festival," he said. "Eventually we want to expand the features, and this is a way of inching towards that."
Lee started The Emerald Eye Film Festival at Ham's Restaurant and the former Attic in Greenville as a way for his students to debut work.
The festival has blossomed into a weekend event with a budget around $42,000 and a three-part mission.
Opportunities for the local public and the filmmaker are part of the mission.
"You have to go through a lot of work for your film to receive that type of audience. For the first time ever in Greenville you can make a short film and have 300 people watching your film."
Entrees will be rated by five to eight screeners before festival on details such as production value, lighting quality, plot and sound. Between 35 and 50 films will be shown during the weekend.
Prizes total $7,000 and include a competition for best screenwriter. Prize money comes from sponsors, donors and gifts in kind. In addition to the eastern N.C. filmmaker award, prizes will be awarded for best narrative, best documentary, best experimental, best student film and best animated film, and a screen writing competition. The audience will also get to vote on their favorite for an award of $250.
The weekend also includes an Inside the Actors workshop Sept. 27. Audience members will have opportunities to ask a panel questions. Allen Colombo, a Greenville native who recently won a Special Jury Award at the South by Southwest film festival in Austin will participate in the panel. For more in
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