With ManaSota Films Project barely a year old, founder Mark Troy has already begun laying the groundwork for expansion and building the next step in creating a self-sustaining Sarasota film community. Between opening a new film distribution center, networking with local film enthusiasts and professionals and arranging ManaSota Films’ first bi-coastal alliance, Troy’s vision for film in Sarasota is a welcome addition to our already passionate film community.
“Do we want to wait for outside studios to come to us, while we cross our fingers and hope,” said Troy. “Or do we start getting it going ourselves?”
To Troy, the answer is simple and that’s why ManaSota Films Project expanded operations with the new SRQ Independent Films (SIF) – an offshoot of ManaSota Films that will focus on the distribution aspect of filmmaking.
ManaSota Films and its monthly viewing sessions for local films has been successful thus far and grown to around 70 regular attendees and a couple hundred supporters, but it’s too insular, said Troy, and he’s still looking for ways to engage the broader community. Addressing the lesser known and considerably less glamorous side of movie-making – the business and distribution side – appeared an untapped well, but one that all aspiring filmmakers must dip into eventually.
“Distribution is a big mystery, a big fog,” said Troy. “It feels dangerous and it feels scary.”
In Troy’s eyes, SIF can be not only a hub, bringing artists and distributors together, but also a forum for artists unacquainted with the options and potential pitfalls that await in the world of distribution to swap stories and trade information with experienced professionals and veterans of the business.
Robert Sterrett, a freelance producer formerly of New Standard Films and longtime Advisory Board member for Gasparilla International Film Festival, attended one of ManaSota Film’s Lakeview screenings, as have multiple Ringling students – a professional juxtaposition Troy hopes to continue and expand upon.
In the meantime, ManaSota Films may have found a sister group in San Diego, with which Troy hopes to develop fruitful partnership. Fresh off of the Best of San Diego of 2014, the group will be sending their award-winning films to screen at one of Troy’s Lakeview screenings.
For Troy, the question is always, “What can we contribute to the community and where can we take this?”
ManaSota Films Project is currently filming Caster’s Blog: A Geek Love Story. Look for the crew around town racing against the light. A local short directed by JB Whirtley and starring Troy – Bullet of Madness – is in the final stages and slated for a late Summer/early Fall release.