The Grackle

Observations, Reflections and Miscellany from the Wacoan

Deep in the Heart Film Festival

Waco’s independent film festival is back

11 months ago

By Avery Ballmann

I don’t know about you, but my next Friday night plans consist of watching “City Kids” at the Waco Hippodrome Theatre with a bag of buttery popcorn in hand. This documentary premiering at Deep in the Heart Film Festival tells the story of a 30-year program that fosters the love of the great outdoors to inner-city San Antonio kids. These city-goers have never caught a fish or traveled across the country to our nation’s national parks, until now. I’m a big fan of documentaries and travel, so when browsing the festival’s film guide, this trailer immediately grabbed my attention. If documentaries aren’t your thing, this year’s Deep in the Heart Film Festival is packed with films varying in genre and length. From July 20-23, enjoy a weekend of films alongside the creators and fellow movie lovers.

Waco has been home to the Deep in the Heart Film Festival for seven years, featuring hundreds of films created by indie filmmakers, including a few who hail from right here in Waco.

The festival is not limited to the movie screen; it has expanded by adding events all over downtown. Events such as the Red Carpet Press Party, Balcones Whiskey Tour and an appearance from Jason London, lead actor from the iconic Texas film “Dazed and Confused”. Depending on which ticket you purchase, you can have access to the many events. A VIP Pass for $150 gives access to all of the movie screenings and special events; the six-pack pass is $50 and allows the ticket-buyer to view six movie premieres and access to all of the events open to the general public; or if you’re only interested in enjoying the festival from the comfort of your couch, the Online Encore package allows you to view any movie from the festival from July 20—29. If you’re unsure if film festivals are for you, I get it; this will be my first film festival too. It’s just like going to the movie theater, but featuring local and indie filmmakers, showcased at Waco’s home-grown festival.

Bird’s eye view — non-pass holders

Non-pass holders can purchase any movie ticket for the price of $10 and can attend events that are open to the public which include workshops hosted by Cultivate 7Twelve and an afterparty hosted by Brotherwell Brewing. All of the workshops are film related.

  • Your Sound Sucks… and How to Fix the Mix is a free workshop that teaches the best practices for recording and mixing audio for your film. This workshop is Friday, July 21 at 2 p.m. and is hosted by Location Sound Specialist, David Feagan and Rowena Cluck; and Audio Engineers, Skip SoRelle and TJ Callaway.
  • Mobile Movie Making discusses the pros and cons of filming with your cell phone and learning how to use affordable small devices to improve your filming. This workshop is Saturday, July 22 at 2:30 p.m. and is taught by Bart Weiss, Professor of Cinematic Arts – University of Texas at Arlington, and Warren Abercrombie, Actor/Director/Content Creator. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased here.
  • Acting Workshop with Ric Maddox is a crash course of the “Meisner Technique”, an acting method famously taught by Playhouse West. The workshop is free and is Saturday, July 22 at 6:45 p.m.
  • If you’re more into the party scene, attend the Beers, Bulls and Brats at Brotherwell Brewing July 22 at 10 p.m. Enjoy beers, hotdogs, s’mores and take the mechanical bull for a spin.

Not purchasing a VIP pass at the film festival will give you a bird’s eye view. If you want to dive deeper into the festival, continue reading to see the perks for filmmakers and VIP pass holders.

Red carpet treatment — VIP Pass

The Deep in the Heart Film Festival is rolling out the red carpet for VIP pass holders. With access to all of the films and special events, it will be hard to discern if you’re a celebrity or a moviegoer. From the red carpet premiere to the awards ceremony on Sunday, VIP pass holders have the opportunity to experience it all.

  • Creative Waco Red Carpet Press Party is the opening night of the festival and it is said to be a memorable one. Anthem Stories is hosting this event with hors d’oeuvres and drinks provided by Balcones Distilling. The buzz from local media outlets will fill the room as journalists conduct interviews with filmmakers. The press party is July 20 from 5:30—7:45 p.m.
  • After the premiere, you can wine down with some drinks at Stay Classy Waco’s After Party from 10 p.m.—12 a.m. This is a special opportunity for movie-lovers and filmmakers to make connections before the festival kicks off.
  • Jason London is making a special appearance. Don’t be “Dazed and Confused”, you read that right! London is hosting an Actor’s Conversation Event July 21 at 6:45 p.m. at Cultivate 7Twelve. London will discuss growing up in Texas, his time in the film industry and his favorite memories from working on Dazed and Confused.
  • After you chat with Jason London, you can head over to Southern Roots Brewing at 10 p.m. to play games with filmmakers.
  • To wrap up the festival, VIP passes are invited to the Waco HOT Garden Party and Awards on Sunday, July 23 at 11 a.m. at Earle Harrison House and Pape Gardens. Enjoy brunch and sweet tea on the lawn as you watch the awards show.

One of the reasons I love the idea of the VIP Pass is it truly immerses the buyer into the festival. Imagine playing a board game or having a drink with a filmmaker and then watching their film in the Hippodrome. To purchase the VIP Pass, visit the film festival’s website.


Behind the scenes — perks of being a filmmaker

Being a filmmaker already comes with a certain set of perks, but at the festival, they receive a little bit more. While filmmakers have access to all of the events the VIP pass holders have, there are events unique to them.

  • The Balcones Whiskey Tour not only includes free whiskey but also an opportunity to network with other filmmakers. The tour is Friday, July 21 at 1 p.m. Seating however is limited. To reserve your spot, click here.
  • Filmmakers can also visit prime filming spots on the Waco Locations Tour on Saturday, July 22 at 10 a.m. Following the tour, filmmakers will have a luncheon with the Texas Film Commission. At the luncheon, panelists will discuss the benefits of filming in the Lone Star State.

The Deep in the Heart Film Festival received over 700 film submissions this year alone. Clearly the festival has a lot of support and will not be going anywhere anytime soon. Consider submitting your film for next year and you could be enjoying fun events like these.


That’s a wrap

One of the reasons I love Waco is there is always something new and exciting going on. How does our town have its own renowned film festival? As a Wacoan, I am excited to support this event and see films that were created in Texas. Another film worth seeing is “Disfluency”, a story of a girl sharing her story of abuse through sign language. Enjoy the lighthearted animated short, “The Social Chameleon” about a chameleon learning to live by his true colors. Or the absurd antics of a depressed man and a blind farmer which was filmed right here in Waco in the film “Good Boy, Craig”. To read more about these films and the festival itself, WACOAN writer, Kevin Tankersley, sat down with founders of the festival, Samuel Thomas and Louis Hunter and got their behind-the-scenes take on the event.