Bentonville’s production company for telling inclusive stories
BENTONVILLE – The Bentonville Film Foundation has started a production company to tell stories of people historically under-represented in cinema.
“It’s a very complete moment for me personally,” said Wendy Guerrero, president of the Bentonville Film Festival and the founding and executive producer of production company Bentonville Way Entertainment. “I’ve always wanted to see myself portrayed in the media. I’m half Mexican and half English.”
Bentonville Way Entertainment will continue the nonprofit foundation’s long-standing mission of advocating for women and inclusive voices in cinema and provide support and resources to artists, Guerrero said.
The formation of the production company was the next natural step in the foundation, she said.
“We have a very extensive alumni network which at this point totals around 10,000 filmmakers in the seven years that we are a film festival,” she said.
The festival attracts 30,000 people each year to its online and public events.
The foundation partnered with the Coca-Cola Foundation in 2020 to form the See It, Be It Filmmaker scholarship to provide development support for filmmakers from under-represented communities, according to a press release from the foundation.
“We really started to discover their struggles as filmmakers, their shortcomings, the support they needed to stay in the industry and do film after film,” Guerrero said. “Creating BWE really felt like a natural progression so that we could provide some of these resources. “
Among these resources are an annual filmmakers retreat offered in conjunction with the film festival, a discount to film at the 10,000 square foot Farm Studios in Hiwasse, and virtual retreats to connect and expose filmmakers to the resources of the world. State, she said.
“It’s all the different stages of the movie that we’re looking to help,” Guerrero said. “Exposure to the film industry at this level for the state is really significant growth.”
The production company has two employees. Kristin Mann was hired as the foundation’s content manager, Guerrero said. Mann’s film “To the Stars” premiered at the 2019 film festival, she said. Jason Netter was hired as an executive producer, Guerrero said. Netter is a festival producer and runs Kickstart Entertainment, a global company with a long history of producing both live and animated, she said.
“With the help of these two, I think BWE is able to really develop talent and recruit talent in Arkansas to work in a production capacity and potentially provide more jobs in film production for it. ‘State,’ she said.
The production company shares an office with the Bentonville Film Foundation on Eighth Street in Bentonville, she said.
Bentonville Way Entertainment will present “Buddy”, https: //www.arkansasonline.com/news/2021/oct/10/bentonville-production-company-to-tell-inclusive/ “Has Been Beauty Queen” and “Dealing With Dad” like his inaugural films, according to the release. All are created by former festival participants.
One of the films deals with a disability. The other two focus on inclusion and the festival and foundation’s mission to champion women and inclusive voices in cinema, she said.
Jen Gerber, 42, of Hot Springs, said “Has Been Beauty Queen” is a very personal story to her.
Gerber and Samuel Brett Williams wrote the movie and Gerber will direct it, she said. The film will be produced in partnership with Summer Shelton, an independent producer, according to a press release from the foundation.
“The movie itself is inspired by real life events that grew up in Arkansas as a teenage beauty queen with a bipolar mother,” Gerber said. “The characters and a lot of the situations in the film come from personal experiences.”
Gerber has been a filmmaker for approximately 20 years and is also Executive Director of the Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival.
The independent film is still in development and aligns with the foundation’s mission of inclusion with an all-female cast and a mental health focus, Gerber said.
“Now we are in the phase of bringing the film to life,” she said. “It’s fundraising, it’s exploring money, schedules and budgets, just trying to get to a place where we can bring the movie to the big screen.”
Gerber declined to share information on costs or funding for the film production, but said she hopes the film will be completed within the next 18 months.
“Buddy” is written by Luke Thomas and will be directed by Amber McGinnis, according to the release. The film will tell the story of an elderly father who accidentally contributes to the death of a man and covers him up to retain custody of his adult son with Down syndrome.
The film will be produced in partnership with Sanjay M. Sharma and Milan Chakraborty of Marginal MediaWorks.
“Dealing with Dad” was written and will be directed by Tom Huang, according to the release. The comedic drama will center on an Asian-American family who are looking to cope with the new realization that their elderly father is struggling with depression.
The film will be produced by Tanner Kling, Alan Pao and Brian Yang with executive production by Effie Brown. It’s filming in Los Angeles, the statement said.
Gerber said she plans to film much of “Has Been Beauty Queen” in Arkansas.
“I hope that as many resources as possible come from the state,” she said. “The tax incentives are put in place that way to entice you to use so many local resources and talent and casting teams.”
Film, television and other forms of production are eligible for a 20-30% discount on all production expenses if at least $ 200,000 is spent in the state or $ 50,000 is spent in the state. State for post-production within six months, according to the Arkansas Production Alliance website.
Such incentives make it attractive to shoot in Arkansas, which has the potential to have a thriving film industry similar to that in states like Georgia, Guerrero said.
According to Kathryn Tucker, executive director of the Arkansas Cinema Society, Georgia has a minimum spending requirement of $ 500,000 for tax breaks for production shoots, which brings in some $ 80 billion to the creative economy of the ‘State every year.
“The opportunities that Georgia offers and the professionalism of this environment is really something that we aspire to,” said Guerrero.
Arkansas’ film and television industry is directly responsible for more than $ 150 million in salaries and approximately 3,300 jobs per year, according to “The American Motion Picture and Television Industry: Creating Jobs, Trading Around the World” , a report released by the Motion Picture Association of America in April. Recent productions include films such as “Ghosts of the Ozarks”, https: //www.arkansasonline.com/news/2021/oct/10/bentonville-production-company-to-tell-inclusive/ “Freedom’s Path” and “12 Time change.”
“Bentonville Way Entertainment is great news for our creative economy,” said Mario Troncoso, director of film and media ecosystems for Creative Arkansas Community Hub and Exchange. “These movie and television shows will create jobs, income for small businesses and give an immediate boost to our creative economy.”
Arkansas offers few limits for filmmakers when it comes to production costs and open spaces in which to film, Guerrero said.
“Whatever kind of story you want to do, you can do it in Arkansas,” she said.
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Bentonville Way Entertainment accepts full and episodic screenplay submissions from writers who have professional representation.
Information on script submissions is available at https://www.bentonvillewayent.com/services.
Source: Bentonville Way Entertainment