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April 22, 2014

Young talent enthusiastic for Milledgeville Film Festival arrival

MILLEDGEVILLE — As the City of Milledgeville braces for its first film festival running Friday through Saturday, some diverse and energetic film and TV professionals are eager to visit.

The American Film Institute (AFI) Conservatory short production, “Young Americans,” will screen at Georgia College's Arts and Sciences Auditorium immediately following Friday's red-carpet gala event at Magnolia Ballroom.

“Young Americans” writer and director Kevin Lacy, cinematographer Kristin Fieldhouse and lead actress Stevie Lynn Jones are all making the Milledgeville trip.

The “Young Americans” teenage bank heist love story concept developed for Lacy's AFI thesis film. This 30-minute Milledgeville Film Festival opener has taken awards at every festival entered to date.

“We are excited about that and glad people are responding to and enjoying it,” Lacy said. “You spend a year plus working on something, and you hope that somebody takes something from it.”

Jones, who was born and raised in Los Angeles, Calif., was a major part of the short film's success.

“On these student films, everyone is so happy to be doing what they love,” Jones. “I love to be surrounded by that enthusiasm and that's what I felt with 'Young Americans'.”

The 18-year-old currently co-stars alongside Gillian Anderson and Dermot Mulroney in the NBC drama “Crisis.” Jones plays teenager Beth Ann Gibson, who is kidnapped along with her fellow classmates in Washington, D.C.

“When we cast (Jones), 'Crisis' hadn't been picked up. It was kind of a cool moment when we got the news [NBC picked it up],” Lacy said. “We were all happy to suddenly have a TV star in our little short.”

Jones is the opening night gala's keynote speaker.

“It's definitely a challenge that I committed to take on,” Jones said. “I couldn't be more excited to celebrate film and so many people's accomplishments.”

The young actress said her speech dives into “a very complex, frustrating and interesting business” with so many different ways to become successful.

Actors Alexandra Bartee and Matthew Withers are co-hosting the Friday gala. Both 20-somethings appeared in the box office movie “Endless Love.”

Bartee just booked a reoccurring role on the upcoming Lifetime series “Un-real” also, while Withers plays a role in the CBS series “Reckless.”

Both young actors met film festival chairman and locally based producer Jeremiah Bennett on the set of a Stars and Strikes Entertainment commercial shoot.

This is a first film festival experience for each.

“(Bennett) was the producer on the first gig that I did,” Bartee said. “It's funny that I got the call from him. I'm really excited because I've never been to Milledgeville before. I couldn't pass up the opportunity to host there.”

The entertainment industry guests look forward to the free panel sessions Saturday.

The packed schedule beginning Saturday includes Producer & Director, Actor, Casting Director and Agent workshops from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. in the Campus Black Box Theatre. In total, 10 speakers are scheduled for the panels.

Brian Beegle with Stilwell Casting, Zoe Myers, who appeared in “Anchorman 2,” and owner of East Coast Talent Agency Barbara Garvey are a few confirmed panel leaders. Panelist David Hartle oversees production on multiple ABC Family TV series and pilots.

Lacy, Bartee and Withers will answer questions as well.

Withers is just a year or so into his acting career. He understands what some quality direction can do to inspire others.

He started off as an extra, searching for work on Facebook.

“I've been in that situation, where I didn't know anything and I've always sought out the right information,” Withers said. “I'll definitely have a good time telling people how I did things and how I got to where I am.”

The film festival is an incredible networking weekend.

“If I was living in Milledgeville right now and I was in college, I'd go to all of the workshops and take notes,” Withers said. “That's where you get your face out there. You want to get plugged in with those people.”

Visit www.milledgevillefilmfestival.com to learn more about ticket packages, festival event and film lineup information.

Lacy looks forward to the Milledgeville opportunity.

“For the first festival, it sounds like it's going to be a great couple of days,” he said.

Bartee said the exposure could do wonders for Milledgeville.

“There are opportunities for more jobs and productions to come. I think it will keep building and become an attractive area for people from L.A. to shoot,” she said.

 

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