2014 FiLMLaB: Special Thanks

Are you recovered from the Willamette Writers Conference? Recovered is not the right word, at least not for attendees. Attendees usually finish the three day conference, tired, but elated, full of creative energy and invigorating possibility.

If you are a conference organizer or volunteer, recovered is exactly the right word. This year was a particular challenge with the relocation from the Airport Sheraton to the Lloyd Center Doubletree. It was not a perfect transition, in spite of the year long preparation; but the overall feedback is that it went well. Every error and concern listed in your evaluations will be addressed in the coming weeks and months to improve the 2015 conference experience.

Filmlab panel

FiLMLaB Panel from L to R: Martin Vavra, Paige McKenzie, Tyson Dailey, Dennis Fitzpatrick, Jon Dragt and Alyssa Roehrenbeck

Our FiLMLaB screening, after the Welcome Reception on Friday night, deserves a special round of thanks to a few people, without which it wouldn’t have been possible. I’m not talking about writer, Jon Dragt or director, Martin Vavra. I’m not even talking about the amazing Alyssa Roehrenbeck or Paige McKenzie, Tyson Dailey, Dennis Fitzpatrick and (the absent) Priscilla Prosser (yes, they are incredible and will all win Oscars one day—blah, blah, blah).

Josh Leake (PFF), Martin Vavra and Alyssa Roehrenbeck

Josh Leake (PFF), Martin Vavra and Alyssa Roehrenbeck

No, the people who made the event a success are people like our Audio Visual Specialist, Julio Castilleja, who made sure all the plugs were in the right places and that the speakers worked without buzzing, and that noobs like me could work a microphone (I owe you a beer, Julio). Or Alina Blankenship who made sure the popcorn was delivered at exactly the right moment, and Salli Slaughter, who for years worked behind the scenes doing graphic design and print programs. She did our stunning FiLMLaB program this year. What? You didn’t get one? Neither did I. But they were there, in the hotel, somewhere, misplaced by a well intentioned helper (duly noted for next year).

Trust me, they were bee-yoot-iful.

Our Script-to-Screen coordinators, Mary Andonian and Bill Johnson also deserve special thanks for running the contest that gave us Jon Dragt’s short script. Conference Chair Stefan Feuerherdt and President Jenny Schrader, supporters of FiLMLaB from the very beginning, have been unwavering in their support for the program. They have worked very hard behind the scenes for the last three years doing small things like designing informational FiLMLaB postcards to big things like making sure we have enough money.

And lastly, to all of you who came out for our screening and participated in our rousing panel discussion with the cast and crew, or have in one way or another supported FiLMLaB over the last few years: we thank you.

PFF Laurels

If you were unable to attend the Willamette Writers screening of Unwelcome Guests, you can see it at the Portland Film Festival later this month. It plays (along with the 2012 FiLMLaB short, Alis Volat Propriis) in Short Blocks 11-Perception, on Saturday, August 30th (12:45 -2:30 pm) at the Laurelhurst Theater. This is a tremendous honor and we are so grateful to have two of our films playing at PFF.


You can catch the festival August 26-September 1, throughout the city, in theaters, libraries, parks and pubs. There is a Screenwriters Pass that will allow you access to all the screenwriting classes, sponsored by Willamette Writers. Amid author readings, writer meet-ups and filmmaker chats, you will find opportunities to network and build your career while enjoying some great films.

Volunteer opportunities are still available for PFF. Expect to hear more about Portland Film Festival and Willamette Writers as we investigate the possibilities and challenges of further collaboration in 2015.