Maintaining the Independent Spirit of Films

Local filmmakers host the first annual Massachusetts Independent Film Festival at Regent Theater on Thursday.

Independent filmmakers are a special breed of artists, working to create visual enjoyment for others without following any of the dictates set by Hollywood studios and moguls.

However, as three local filmmakers know full well, working independently gives them the freedom that nourishes their souls but has its pitfalls insofar as finding adequate funding and support.

To that end, Belmont resident Christopher DiNunzio and his partners, Jason Miller and Nolan Yee of Brookline, are hosting the first annual Massachusetts Independent Film Festival on Thursday, Dec. 1, at 7:30 p.m. at Arlington's  7 Medford St.

“We plan to promote the films in the festival for the rest of the year online,” said DiNunzio, whose piece, “Her Heart Still Beats,” will be shown along with five others by some of New England’s “best” independent filmmakers.

In addition to “Last Bet, Last Mistake” also directed by DiNunzio, the festival will include “Microcinema” and “Video Diary: Last Entry” directed by Skip Shea, “Strangers” by David Trodella, “Duet” by Christian DeRezendes and “The Loudest Sound” by Miller through his company Patricia Films.

There will be a question and answer period immediately following the screening that DiNunzio pointed out will be a great opportunity to meet and interact with the filmmakers.

For additional details, visit www.massindiefilm.com

DiNunzio said the creators of the festival intend to keep it going for many years to come.

“We want this to remain purely independent in the original spirit of an independent film festival and have a section every year just for New England artists so we can promote local filmmakers,” he said.

DiNunzio and his Brookline partners have been friends for a long time (beginning more than 10 years ago at Brookline High School for Yee and DiNunzio and then meeting Miller during a job about six years years ago).  They have been working creatively since 2006 on various projects from “shorts” to feature-length documentaries and music videos.

“We came together this year as three independent filmmakers to create the festival,” Yee said. “We’re committed to working closely together on other endeavors.”

The joy of filmmaking

Like other independent filmmakers, he said the three share a goal of making quality artistic work they can be proud of and enjoyable to audiences.

For the most part, Yee works as a freelance videographer and photographer.

Now 28, he remembers loving to draw as a child which is when he believes his visual sense first began.

“I always drew the storyboards for the films I made,” Yee said.  “It was easier for me to visualize the scene through drawing.”

While a student at Brookline High School, he acted in dramatic and comedy productions.

Yee discovered he wasn’t interested in stage acting and would have preferred to work in film because he enjoys “having control of visuals and guiding the audience’s eye.”

Yee attended Suffolk University where he studied film history and then transferred to Emerson College where he received a degree in film production.

While at Emerson, Nolan participated in film festivals outside of school and started to do commercial work.

Miller, 32, grew up in Beckley, WV, and has had a love of film for his entire


A Brookline resident for the 10 years, his upcoming film "The Loudest Sound," which he wrote and directed, is previewing at the festival before full screenings begin next year.

Miller said it’s a very personal film dealing with the breakdown of a relationship

Taking place over a three-year period. Yee was the cinematographer on the


DiNunzio, also 28 and a Brookline High School graduate, remembers images catching his eye when he was a young child.

“Whenever I saw a movie, I would envision how I might create a scene,” he said.

After graduation, DiNunzio took photography classes at the New England School of Photography and completed a 12-week program in filmmaking through the Museum School of Fine Arts.

Having moved from the field of photography to film – and originally using 8-millimeter and then 16-millimeter film way before digital – DiNunzio said he learned the art of efficiency.

One can simply erase an image or film with digital cameras today, he pointed out, but had to perform a lot of work to correct any problems on film, he said.

Both he and Yee stressed how the new equipment available to filmmakers these days allows them to get an excellent quality for their work.

One still has to have an “eye” for images, they agreed, but technology has made their work a lot easier and less expensive.

On location in Belmont

DiNunzio wrote and directed “Her Heart Still Beats” and produced it with Miller.

The entire film, he said, cost less than $1,000 to create.

“I’m a big fan of Edgar Allan Poe,” DiNunzio said, explain that he used the writer’s story “The Tell-Tale Heart” as an inspiration and then gave it a “modern twist.”

Poe’s piece describes a man who is possessed by an older man’s eye.

For DiNunzio's 25-minute thriller, he kept the “essence” of Poe’s story but changed the narrative a bit so that the tale is about a man who becomes obsessed with his wife’s eye.

He filmed the “short” in an apartment in Waverley Square and at the Beaver Brook Reservoir.

“We wanted to make a portfolio piece using our new equipment,” DiNunzio said in reference to a camera he purchased for $1,000 – a price he describes as extremely low.

Additional information on the work DiNunzio, Yee and Miller have done to date can be found on IMDb by typing in their full names.

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