Alaska Film Community Shares Its Stories Online
Website profiles Alaska filmmakers
But there already was an indigenous film community in Alaska.
And now they're telling their stories on the internet at AlaskaFilmmakers.com.
The internet has become the forum for Alaska-based filmmakers to raise their profile.
The series Alaska Filmmakers just launched its second season, with 16 episodes profiling Alaskans involved in every aspect of filmmaking.
Executive Director D.K. Johnston returned to Alaska after getting his Masters of Fine Arts in Los Angeles.
"When I came back up, like the biggest complaint I heard from a lot of local filmmakers is that they didn't have a voice. They didn't have anyone to kind of speak out for them… to highlight their professional work."
The series' first season in 2011 drew praise during its 12-episode run, even though it was assembled in Anchorage in just two days.
This time, AlaskaFilmmakers.com features interviews conducted around the state, fueled by $10,000 in donations raised through kickstarter.com.
The featured artists have much to say about how the state's film tax incentive program has changed their landscape.
"I love the lifestyle up here in Alaska,” said Steve Rychetnik of Sprocketheads. “And so that's why we worked so hard to get the film incentives up here so we can bring the kind of business we'd like to be doing up here."
Said Maya Salganek of the UAF faculty: "It's gotten much more complicated in the last three years than I anticipated it would have been so quickly. But you know that's the real world."
"One of the great dynamics of being able to sit down and do this is that we're able to bring people together that otherwise wouldn't know each other," said Joshua Lowman, one of the hosts in this year’s series. “One thing about filmmakers altogether is that we're kind of solitary. We're artists, and we tend to clump in little groups."
"Without AlaskaFilmmakers,” said another host, Stephanie Wonchala, “they would not necessarily be as recognized, and so it's definitely filled a void, which was all of these hard-working people creating these amazing things that just didn't have the promotional huzzah to get them recognized."
Part of the payoff comes when the Alaska Film Forum hosts Open Projector Nights. A recent Open Projector Night at the Bear Tooth Theatre Pub packed the house for more than two hours of short films by Alaskans.
"Most of us all grew up together doing this,” said Johnston. “We all grew up from middle school and high school doing this as kind of a fun hobby, and with the incentive and the amount of community unification that's happened over the last five years, we've been able to take what we do for a hobby and turn it into a full-fledged career."
"We've talked to people who have been doing this not just as part of what's happening now but have been doing this for the last 30, 40 years," Lowman said.
"It's been a burgeoning community, and it's exploding," said Wonchala.
And a lot of it is captured on the web.