Jeremiah Bennett, who leads the Milledgeville-Eatonton Film Festival, brought Milledgeville City Council up to date last Tuesday with several things about the event that attracts people every year from around the world.
The event, ongoing since 2013, originally only included Milledgeville. In its inaugural year, there were only 63 submissions from 19 countries.
“Last year, we had submissions from 35 countries and 514 films, and we had the pleasure, of course, of honoring Mr. Louis Gossett Jr. at the awards show,” Bennett said.
The event has drawn Oscar winners to Milledgeville and Eatonton.
“This year, we are only three months into the submission process out of nine months, and we already have 560 submissions — so more submissions than our entire last year — from 46 countries,” Bennett said.
He explained that the event will expand by another day in 2020.
“It will still be the five days here in Milledgeville and then two days in Eatonton to make us a full seven days of the festival,” Bennett said. “We are double the size of the Macon Film Festival in submissions.”
Bennett, who was joined at the meeting by Cheryl Crumbley, a local banker, who serves as treasurer of the Milledgeville-Eatonton Film Festival, said he recently met with the mayor of Athens who indicated he was interested in starting a film festival there.
“Even bigger towns are wondering what is happening to give us that kind of success,” Bennett said. “But that comes from the wonderful support of government, and that was shown by having you all in attendance.”
One of the big draws of the Milledgeville-Eatonton Film Festival is the hospitality extended to the visitors by those who live in Milledgeville-Baldwin County and Eatonton-Putnam County, Bennett pointed out.
“They (visitors) love the hospitality and they love the people that are here,” Bennett said. “They feel truly welcomed, and they can feel it.”
Bennett said the script that won during the 2017 event, “Mayflower,” will film a short pilot television series in Milledgeville next month.
“They’re going to be spending around $50,000 over four days at the end of September here in Milledgeville,” Bennett said.
Plans call for some aerial shots for city skyline purposes and that action scenes would be filmed behind Ace Hardware and in downtown areas and places like the Country Store and toward Sparta, as well as a private residence.
“So, those are things that when filmmakers see this town, it starts putting things on the map for them,” Bennett said. “There’s also a private company and in the alcohol business and I don’t want to say a name yet, but I’ve talked with the partners this week and they are considering Milledgeville as a second place to open up a brewery. They have been a supporter of ours in the past.”
Bennett said there are a lot of great things in the making.
He said when he first came to Milledgeville in 2012 that he didn’t know a lot of things about the town, but from what he saw it knew right away that it would be a fantastic place to start a film festival.
He thanked city officials for their support over the years of the Milledgeville-Eatonton Film Festival.
Bennett also announced that the 2020 Milledgeville-Eatonton Film Festival would be held May 18-May 24.