Close-up on Mini Indie Film Festival

Movie buffs flock to Mastic Beach for three days of film fest fun


With the tantalizing aroma of movie theater popcorn scenting the air, the Mastic Beach Mini Indie Film Festival took place this past weekend with movies, discussions, and live music on deck at the Property Owners Association on Neighborhood Road.

“Our hope is that through this exhibition and celebration of work, that the discussions that follow will open our eyes to the grit we all embody in this human experience we call life,” said James Evans, co-founder and producer of the Mastic Beach Mini Indie Film Festival.

This is the festival’s third year. The first live event occurred in 2019, but in 2020, Evans and the event’s other co-founder, Amy Gaipa, switched to a virtual model because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Now the event is a hybrid of virtual and live.

“Planning something like this is complicated to begin with, but now with a virtual and a live audience, it’s even harder,” said Gaipa.

But it’s well worth the effort, according to Gaipa and Evans, who spoke about the importance of festivals that celebrate film. For them, it’s all about the magic of movies and what that magic provides for audiences.

“It’s an opportunity to transport yourself to a different perspective and a different part of the world. It’s all about having an appreciation for someone else’s existence,” said Evans.

For movies, finding an audience is just as crucial as producing the work itself, according to Evans. And that’s what a film festival can provide: a space for movies and audiences to connect.

“The purpose, in part, is to foster communication. You can’t have art exist in a room without an audience,” he said.

The art of movie making is something Gaipa and Evans understand in a holistic way, as they’ve each participated in many facets of the movie business. The duo met while studying film at Stony Brook University, and created the film festival in order to fundraise for a project.

Also, both have interesting stories about their time in the movie business. Gaipa’s first film was “Titanic,” where she played Trudy Bolt, the maid of Rose DeWitt Bukater Dawson Calvert (played by Kate Winslet). Gaipa answered an open casting call and thought she’d be on the Rosarita, Mexico, set for a week and go home, but she wound up there for about seven months. Her character died in a dramatic scene where the Titanic was sinking. Gaipa wore a vest with rollers sewn in so she could cascade across the ground, mimicking the boat being hit by a violent wave.

Evans’s backstory is equally as interesting. He created Donna’s House Productions in an ode to his mother, who leant her home to be used in at least 10 movie productions.

“In the indie film world, you have to produce things yourself. If you want to get it done, it’s got to be you that does it. I thought the best way to do that was to create a production company,” he said.

The event featured all types of movies, including shorts and features. Plus, various genres were shown including horror, comedy, documentary and drama. Also at the event was live music, artists, and authors.

“Art brings different perspectives and points of view, which encourages empathy and creates love. In this time and place, with everything going on in the world, we think understanding and accepting one another is extremely important. Art can do that in a subtle way,” said Evans.

In addition to Gaipa and Evans, Matthew Arasmo served as the festival’s associate producer, and Nick Collins was segment producer.


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