Filmmakers come home for Sunday’s ‘Blacklist’ festival |

Filmmakers come home for Sunday’s ‘Blacklist’ festival

Rick Chandler

What are the odds that six friends from South Lake Tahoe High would all come back to town nine years later with their own big event at one of the biggest resort casinos in town?

It’s a story that would probably make for a good movie — a convenient notion, since all six are filmmakers.

“Back when I was growing up with these guys, I never would have dreamed this,” said Jeff Speed, 27, one of the co-founders of 1134 Films, based in San Diego where he attended film school. “It’s great to be able to come back and show everyone what we’ve been doing.”

Speed and his twin brother, Chris, plus childhood friends Aaron Hernandez, Brandon Rein, Dustin Singler and Jason Coffey parlayed their love for film into the Blacklist Film and Arts Festival last year, in which they screened 15 of their own short films before a small but enthusiastic crowd at Lake Tahoe Community College. And now the festival is back for Year 2, this time stepping up in class with 22 films from a variety of directors at the MontBleu Resort and Casino, on Sunday, Aug. 19.

“We were all attending school in San Diego and making films, and one day some of us got together and came up with the idea for this film festival,” Jeff Speed said. “We had made about eight films between us, and had always wanted to bring our films home for a little showing.”

And so Blacklist was born (the name is inspired by the infamous Hollywood blacklists of the 1950s, in which industry professionals who were suspected of being communists were blacklisted by the government). The event will also include an art and photography showcase and an after party at Tahoe Underground.

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“Blacklist is a celebration of film, art, and above all unity among people,” Jeff Speed said. “It represents a lot of work; a lot of blood, sweat and tears. But it’s a privilege to be able to come home and give something back to the community that gave us so much growing up.”

Anchoring the selection of films will be Jeff Speed’s own “Se Voir,” one of the films which was chosen for the Steven Speilberg reality show “On The Lot,” broadcast earlier this year. His other entry is “Stink Meat,” a horror entry.

Among other films, which encompass the art, film noir, drama, comedy and music video genres, is Rein’s “Mustache.”

” ‘Mustache’ is my first narrative film,” said Rein, at 22 the youngster of the group. “It’s a weird story, about a guy who lives in the world of facial hair. One day he sees a photo of a guy with no mustache, and the film is about his search for that guy.”

Two of Rein’s other entries are “Huh,” filmed on 1970s-style Super-Eight film, and “Dress Shoes.”

“I met Jeff and the others through my older brother, Rickey, who was friends of that group growing up,” Rein said. “I was the little kid of the group, always hanging around the older guys. My brother hated it at the time, but the other guys took me under their wing.”

Rein formerly attended Lake Tahoe Community College and now attends City College of San Diego, where he is also involved with 1134 Films. The company specializes in freelance film work, which might include anything from working cameras and equipment for movies and commercials to putting together web presentations.

Now all are converging on their old stomping grounds, where several plan to remain for the duration of the summer.

“We’ve had a lot of support from the community for the film festival,” said Jeff Speed, who graduated from San Diego State Film School this past May. “Local sponsors have rallied around us, and made it possible to make this an annual event.”

Speed cautions that some of the films may be darker or grittier than would be appropriate for young children. “I don’t want to scare anyone away, but it’s something to keep in mind,” he said. “We support unapologetic filmmaking.

“We call it a celebration of film, art and rock ‘n’ roll. A promotion of original thinking. We hope everyone comes check it out.”

Tickets for the Blacklist Film and Art Festival can by purchased through MontBleu at (888)) 829-7630, or at Tickets are $8 in advance, $10 at the door. Doors open at 3 p.m., with the first film starting at 5:30 p.m.

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