By Jacqueline Monahan
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7th Annual Vegas IndieMeet Features Film, Fun and Food

Memorial Day weekend has meant a uniquely original independent film festival in the Las Vegas area for the past seven years.  It’s called the Las Vegas IndieMeet (find it on Facebook and “like” it).  The invitational event brings together directors, producers, reporters and film critics for three days of outdoor entertainment including al fresco screenings, food, and a fire pit.

Photo Credit:  Alan White

Day One’s meet and greet quickly morphs into a five hour film festival that displays images into the wee hours of the morning. This is all done in the great outdoors of Mike Conway’s expansive back yard.  The IndieMeet co-founder and film director (Terrarium, The Awakening, Exile) runs the show from deep within the audience, projecting onto a 10 foot screen.

Day Two features demonstrations on film-related topics such as lighting, special effects, makeup, and squibs (no, I don’t mean roast pigeon; squibs are the tiny, explosive, faux-blood capsules used in violent film scenes).  A feature film field trip may take place as well.  Demonstrations take place during the day, with another independent film screening at night.

IndieMeet Co-Founder/Director Mike Conway
Photo Credit:  Alan White

Day Three brings a barbecue and pool party at an alternate site (with the same usual suspects) and then a return to IndieMeet’s original location for even more independent films.

Some of this year’s features included Sweet Ninja Brown, Drag, Anti-Hero, The Furred Man, Mixed Messages, Home, Weird Movie (trailer), Enigma, and Bubble Gum and Broken Fingers.

Viewers are treated to a wide range of subject matter, from post-apocalyptic zombie infestations (Drag) to drug runners and perverts (Bubble Gum and Broken Fingers) to exploitative, politically incorrect adventures with Leon, a black ninja novice (Sweet Ninja Novice).  A man has the worst (and last) day of his life in Mixed Messages.  An alien life form decimates a deep space cargo ship in Enigma (yes, Alien did that too, but not this way).

Reporter Patty Fantasia on the Scene
Photo Credit:  Alan White

Whenever you get a roomful of creative people together, especially if they’re interested in film production, the conversation, even in snippets, is bound to be…original.  One of the attendees was also the star of Conway’s film, exile.  Heather Lei Guzzetta’s image could also be seen on the prominent Exile poster, where she played an android.  Someone pointed this out, and another guest volunteered that he was also in the film.  “I got killed off,” he claimed proudly, helping himself to another chicken wing.

Actress Heather Lei Guzzetta
Photo Credit:  Alan White

Visiting children, including Conway’s own, engaged in faux-warfare, complete with weapons full of sound effects that augmented whatever film soundtrack played at the moment.

Another local director, Rick Shipley (Hunting Humans) was on hand to help populate the backstage area of the outdoor screening “lawn” that filled with both chairs and viewers as the evening morphed into night, with its sometimes windy accompaniment.  Las Vegas reporter Patty Fantasia conducted a podcast with Conway about the festival.

Director Rick Shipley (second from left) enjoys the outdoor ambience
Photo Credit:  Alan White

Your humble correspondent had heard of IndieMeet for years, and finally made the trek to NW Las Vegas to experience the fun, the food, and the wind firsthand.  Conway’s wife, Sheila, is the heart of the event, providing hospitality and history for first-timers.  There’s never a charge to attend, although a $5 donation for pizza night (Saturday) is most welcome.

IndieMeet Co-Founder Sheila Conway
Photo Credit:  Alan White

Las Vegas has a thriving independent film community whose participants share a passion for production, no matter how or even if financially feasible.  It’s an attitude that fosters creativity, innovation and ingenuity, and Mike Conway’s annual IndieMeet brings it all together in a celebration of cinema on a shoestring.

It’s a great way to tie up a weekend.

For further information, contact:

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