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December 13, 2011 at 3:53pm

MOVIE BIZ BUZZ: The Gritty Details

Actress Jennafae Cleveland in one of the new Grit City Production's first films, "Hearts and Fist." Photo credit: Bob Potasky

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MICK FLAAEN RETURNS WITH GRIT CITY PRODUCTIONS >>>

With 2012 imminent, I can't help but ponder what the future will bring while looking back at these past 12 months. It was just a few days before Christmas last year when I posted my first "Movie Biz Buzz" on this blog, and needless to say - so I'll say it anyway - its appearance rocked the film world ever after. (Back me up, Scorsese.)

My editor, Matt Driscoll, envisioned the column as more than another recap of big-release flicks each week. Besides, my two cents ain't worth a dime a dozen. (Don't try to do the math on that one.) Driscoll wanted me to dig deeper than that, and deeper meant closer to home. The "Buzz" would hopefully mean more to readers if it chronicled the stories and the visions of filmmakers honing their craft right here in the South Sound. But the parameters of my search begged a question: Would I find enough stories tucked away in this area to keep the column alive?

Fifty-two weeks later, and I can report with some pride that, contrary to popular belief, our community boasts a bounty of film artists that won't dry up any time soon. And as it turns out, I end year one at the beginning, with Tacoma's Mick Flaaen.

Last December Flaaen kicked "Buzz" off by talking about his directorial debut, the dramatic short Welcome to Parkland. After an enthusiastic turnout for its February premiere at The Grand Cinema, Flaaen hopes to release it for public viewing online by the end of this week - a digital present for all of us. (Just search "Mick Flaaen" on Vimeo.)

As the film's title suggests, its creator loves the local scene. Besides acting this year in two episodes of the ongoing theater series Java Tacoma, Flaaen made a short documentary about the city's graffiti artists called Paint. The project grew out of work he had done as a student at Clover Park Technical College. His instructor at the time, Austin Iverson, encouraged Flaaen to complete Paint. Its soundtrack includes music from Iverson's band Hands of Toil, infusing the piece with a lot of energy.

By showcasing two different mediums (graffiti and music) within a third (cinema), Paint epitomizes what Flaaen the artist sees as his responsibility. "The whole idea of being a Tacoma filmmaker," he says, "is trying to encapsulate some of the talent that we have in Tacoma, in all the art forms. So Paint is just a representation or documentation of that."

Already Paint has met the festival circuit with success, an entry at Tacoma and Gig Harbor in October as well as ONECLOUDFEST, done entirely on Facebook. Making OCF pleased Flaaen, since an online festival can potentially reach many more eyes than those who attend a theater.

"We got to share Tacoma with the rest of the world, so I'm really proud of that," he says.

That civic pride rolls right into his new filmmaking group Grit City Productions, formed by Bob Potasky and so far includes members Flaaen, Potasky, Kim Whalen, and Bernadette "Berni" Goulet. GCP currently has two works in the works: the short narrative Hearts and Fist has nearly wrapped shooting; meanwhile, Flaaen has returned to the land of documentary with the "tentatively titled" A Funeral Dance, which looks at another local subject - the MLK Ballet and dance group The MOVE!NG Company.

Afterward it may be right back into fiction with Goulet's new script. (IT HAS ZOMBIES!) Goulet met Flaaen and the gang as a fellow Clover Park student, and loves the collaboration process:

"It's something I've always wanted to do, and I'm just finally happy that I'm doing it, instead of always just thinking about it, dreaming about it."

Follow Paint on Facebook here.

I dragged Flaaen and Goulet into the studio this week; give a listen to my interview with them on Volcano Radio, which airs Thursday from 8-9 p.m. on www.nwczradio.com and is available as a podcast at weeklyvolcano.com and volcanoradio.com directly following.

Filed under: Arts, Screens, Tacoma,

Comments for "MOVIE BIZ BUZZ: The Gritty Details" (1)

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Steve said on Dec. 14, 2011 at 8:35pm

JourneyQuest and the Gamers films were out of Tacoma

http://www.journey-quest.com/

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