Gateway: Living

Competition gives aspiring filmmakers a chance to better learn their craft

I was 12 when I discovered I wanted to be in filmmaking.

My dad was the floor director for the evening news for one of our local TV stations in Savannah, Georgia. Once, when he had to shoot a promo for the weatherman, I was cast as one of the actors. That was all she wrote. I was bitten and I was hooked!

A few years later in high school, I learned still photography and eventually became the lead photographer for our yearbook staff. Doing that help me learn that pictures are what tell the story. I also learned the importance of framing a shot just right. After a brief stint in the Navy, I moved to LA with $1,500 and a suitcase. I enrolled in college majoring in theatre arts, went on a few auditions and was soon acting in local and national commercials.

Shortly after, I was cast in a theatre stage play and got my first taste of what’s it’s like to be on tour with a stage production. That experience confirmed I had made the right career decision. I knew that an actor’s life was for me. Back in LA, I became known as a guy with a youthful face who was well over 18 and could work the grueling hours of an adult schedule but could play younger, teenage roles. I worked on a number of TV shows including “The Wayans Bros.,” “Smart Guy,” one episode of “Beverly Hills 90210” and was a regular for two seasons on the show “Nick Freno – Licensed Teacher.”

I was also cast as a stunt double on the hit TV series, “The Famous Jett Jackson.”

During this time, I began to try my hand at screenwriting. I wrote a kids’ sports comedy feature script and tried unsuccessfully to sell it on my own. It was after this minor setback that I decided to enroll in film school and learn how to produce and direct in hopes of raising the funds and producing this movie myself.

I attended the New York Film Academy’s LA campus where I suddenly realized that directing was my true calling. I quickly discovered that as an actor you are like a paintbrush, but as the director you are the painter. It is the director’s creative vision from start to finish. However, my experiences as a still photographer and as an actor allowed me an advantage in this process by not only knowing how to frame the perfect shot but in also knowing how to speak and relate to my actors in order to get out of them what I needed. Every good director knows that filmmaking is a collaborative art form. It takes many people with many different talents working together in order to complete a worthy film.

So far, I have directed and worked on quite a few independent films and shorts as well as several music videos. My latest one was shot in January for a new, up-and-coming hip-hop group. I also worked briefly as one the assistant directors for the former hit TV series “Rules of Engagement.”

Meanwhile, I am thrilled to be sharing my experiences as the creative director for the Gig Harbor Film Festival’s 72-Hour Film Competition.

This is an exciting opportunity for filmmakers of all ages and skill levels to try their hand at making a 5 minute short. This year’s competition will include a two-hour workshop sort of like a Filmmaking 101 class, which covers some of the basics in making a 5-minute short film. Teams will be given 72 hours to complete their project on time and qualify for the competition.

All qualified entries will be celebrated and shown on the big screen at the Galaxy Theatre on April 3, followed by a red carpet, Oscar-style awards banquet.

For more information on the competition, visit

Gig Harbor resident Lance Richards can be reached at

Gig Harbor Film Festival’s 72-Hour Film Competition

Saturday (March 5) is the registration deadline for the 2016 72-Hour Film Competition presented by the Gig Harbor Film Festival. Registration for a team of five is $75, and those interested can register at

Filming will begin at 5 p.m. March 10, and all films must be turned in to the Film Festival office in Uptown Gig Harbor by 6 p.m. March 13. Late entries will not be accepted.

All films will premiere April 3 at the Galaxy Theatre beginning at 2 p.m. A Red Carpet Awards event will be held at 4:30 p.m at The Inn at Gig Harbor. Tickets for each event — or both — are available online at, by leaving a message at 253-851-3456 or by sending an email to

Tickets may also available at the door for both events, but seating is limited. Advance ticket prices are $10 for the film showings, $20 for the Red Carpet event or $25 for both. Tickets at the door are $15 for the films and $30 for the Red Carpet Awards.