Jerome Indie Film & Music Festival the next Sundance? Founder says “One day, Sundance will want to be like us”

Jerome end finalFounders Toni Ross & Jason Ryan with Actor Michael Alvarez and I

Full full photo gallery please visit:

Someone in our community set out to accomplish something amazing, and through this one woman’s selfless efforts and vision, we have all benefited and shared in great celebration of that which we all love and that which unites us. Toni Ross suffered an unimaginable loss with the passing of her son, but from her loss, she was able to create something truly beautiful. It is always scary to embark on rebuilding something from the ashes, but like a Phoenix and so fittingly, from the heart of the Phoenix and Arizona Film Industry, the Jerome Indie Film and Music Festival was born. There were many a time I observed people, on more than one occasion, stop  to take in the scene around them – the energy, the camaraderie, the spirit, the passion of the artists spilling into every crevice, corner, theater, fire station, shop, restaurant, bar and hill top of that quirky little town of Jerome, and these people were moved to tears. The festival is already being compared to Sundance, and I am honored to be a part and in attendance of the start of something so significant, not necessarily because of just what the festival has the potential of growing to become, but because it was an endeavor done from the heart and with the purest of intentions.

I cannot praise the staff and volunteers enough for their tireless dedication and commitment from sunrise to sunrise of each passing day of the festival. Despite heat, massive crowds, unexpected dilemmas and any other force of nature or human; these souls devoted time, sweat and a genius level of coordination, organization, planning and an artistic touch to keep the festival running smoothly. The staff often missed the social events and functions (often due to exhaustion most likely or prepping for the next day) which I took to be a huge testament to their level of professionalism.

Part of the grand appeal of this particular festival had to do with the environment, I almost certainly believe as well as the approach of executing a complete festival immersion with not only just multiple venues for film screenings, but also by including panels, interactive screenings, meet & greets, mixers, gala events such as the one put on by Rangelo Productions and more, all in a town that is rich with history, natural beauty and is in itself a true testament to pioneering a path of independence and artistry. While some slammed the festival for being another typical, over-hyped local fest, I think it is a huge accolade to our film community that so much of the work included in this festival was done extremely well. I was not aware that so much solid, impressive work was created and birthed at our local level and it was encouraging and igniting as an artist to witness such excellence originate here. In fact I was extremely inspired after seeing one event in particular, Bill Pierce’s forbidden films of Arizona as well as some of the featured highlights such as Cathedral Canyon.

A huge congratulations goes out to the filmmakers and the winners of the first Jerome film award ceremony for your mastery and your ability to tell cinematic stories in a powerful and sincere way. There are so many individuals and specific experiences I could dwell on for hours expressing thanks to or for, but I will part with this, I am proud and in love with the heart of our Arizona artists and filmmakers and I think we have finally found the perfect, ideal expression of what we have to offer in the Jerome Indie Film and Music Festival. Thank to you everyone who was willing to do what others never dreamt of, who gave their money, their time, their work, their expertise, their bravery and their ingenuity to create something so entirely unique and break out into a new frontier for all filmmakers. This is a legacy left behind for a loved son, by a mother whose love won’t ever quite, and it is the future for generations of filmmakers, artists, musicians and film-lovers for a lifetime to come.


The Rising Spirit AwardSPEED OF ORANGE – The third film from acclaimed storyteller Justin Hunt, The Speed of Orange tells the story of an ordinary family living in an extraordinary world.  The horse racing team of GHL, which rose to domination in the 70s and early 80s, is a true journey of humble beginnings, unparalleled success, and the unavoidable confrontation with mortality. Told by the people who lived it, The Speed of Orange, and the story of GHL, will make you cry both tears of laughter and of pain, all the while showcasing the elements of fear, ambition, family, friendship, loss and redemption. The Speed of Orange will undoubtedly take you on the ride of a lifetime, right out of the gate, all the way across the wire.

Best  Documentary Feature: Music City USA – Nashville is an area rich in culture, inspiration and pride. Resilience unlike many have seen, yet it is known primarily for its music. Did the people inspire the area, did the music inspire the people, or did this special place on the globe inspire them both?

Best  Documentary Short: The Ghost of the Cuban Queen Bordello  – Reaching beyond the historical and ghostly walls of a famed southwestern bordello in the 1920′s, a turbulent love affair unfolds, revealing the story of a cunning harlot and her selfish lover. Together their tale of fame, fortune and murderous deeds spans decades from Story Ville, New Orleans to the speakeasy’s of San Francisco and comes to rest in a small mining town in the wild west of Jerome, Arizona.

Best Music VideoBohemian Rhapsody”- Puscifer  

Best Arizona Film:  Cathedral CanyonA story set in both sprawling modern Phoenix and the fringe, rural polygamist communities of Northern Arizona, this film presents a hidden connection between these two very different worlds that permits the shocking acts of these cults to continue.

 Best Narrative Short: A Day on Bleaker Street  – A Day on Bleaker Street juxtaposes the lives of two neighbors and their assumptions about one another. Each man desires something the other possesses, but is it all that it appears to be from across the street? Is the grass really greener on the other side? Come spend A Day on Bleaker Street and decide for yourself.

Best Drama FeatureShouting Secrets –  SHOUTING SECRETS is a hopeful and heartwarming universal story taking place in a Native American family. Yet, it is everybody¹s story and does not belong to a single race, religion or class. It is a human story of choices and regrets. Funny and heartbreaking, SHOUTING SECRETS tells a story that is at once about the constancy and the fragility of love, as well as the importance of family. SHOUTING SECRETS has won over 20 Awards for best film and audience choice at film festivals across the US and features an all-star cast of Indigenous Peoples including Chaske Spencer (TWILIGHT SERIES), Q¹orianka Kilcher (NEW WORLD, PRINCESS KAIULANI), Tyler Christopher (GENERAL HOSPITAL, THE LYING GAME), Gil Birmingham (TWILIGHT SERIES) and Tonantzin Carmelo (INTO THE WEST). Tantoo Cardinal and Rodney A. Grant from DANCES WITH WOLVES also play supporting roles.

Best Comedy Feature: GHOST TEAM ONEIn early 2012, filmmaker Billy Chen answered a Craigslist ad looking for someone to document possible paranormal behavior. What he found were two sexually retarded friends scheming to impress a beautiful woman who believed their house was haunted.  They were willing to face their darkest fears to get in her pants. She was determined to speak with the dead. No one was prepared for the demon whore they found instead.

Best  Horror ShortIncident on Hwy
Five years ago, newly engaged couple, Jeff Bedict and Kelly Moga, took a trip through the desert from San Diego to New Mexico and mysteriously disappeared never to been seen or heard from again. “Incident on Highway 73” explores the beloved couples final harrowing hours.

Best Horror Feature:  Speak No Evil – Speak No Evil is the story of Anna, a single mother fighting to protect her daughter from demonically possessed children and a town gone mad.


Jerome Indie Film and Music Festival

my films in jeromeFor full photo gallery, film trailers, festival commercial and more please click HERE

Arizona’s “wickedest town in the west” makes a comeback this summer as the historic town of Jerome makes a whole new mark in history by hosting the inaugural “Jerome Indie Film and Music Festival” June 13-16. Once a thriving mining town and the place all the cool cats went for copper; it took a hit in the 30’s with the Great Depression and has since been going through a series of evolutions to redefine itself.

Now a home to about 450 people, it is a hub of quirky art galleries, mom and pop restaurants, antique shops and boasts an impressive amount of unique stores and restored historical buildings and architecture. While being a popular tourist destination as it sits comfortably between Prescott and Flagstaff, the town is about to get a little Hollywood treatment as actors, filmmakers, artists and fans flock to Jerome for this celebration of all things indie!

The whole town got in on the action literally transforming into a hot spot of artistic expression. The Jerome Fire Station for example will become The Light House Theatre, Spook Hall becomes Trey Brayden Cinemahouse and one cannot not mention the Starlit Mine Theatre, a whimsical outdoor venue nestled near the Old Jerome Copper Mine creating a magical cinematic escape under the stars and away from it all.

There are dozens of short films, music videos, documentaries, panels, workshops and live musical performances by Threefold Fate, Kevin Daly, The Sugar Thieves, Fallen Riviera, 2 in the Chest and more to wet your whistle and satisfy any entertainment craving you may have. Several also add to the glitz and glam of the glorious makeover of Jerome with an opening night meet & greet wine and mine mixer, a Friday night party by Rangelo Productions and a masquerade ball.

You also can’t ignore the fact that you are in a ghost town! Haunted hotels, ghost-hunting tours and adventures and possible spooky sightings await you wherever you may wander … but don’t worry, I hear they are mostly friendly spirits, just looking for a good time and I’m sure this weekend lineup will be sure to please ghouls and boys of this world and beyond!

Some of the highlights of the festival include the world premiere of feature film Cathedral Canyon presented in the Starlit Mine Theatre Friday night at 8p.m. The film features Bold and the Beautiful star Winsor Harmon, seasoned actor Jose Rosete and a whole slew of local Arizona talent. The story takes a closer look at the City of Phoenix in 2005 and its unexpected ties to a secret polygamist community up north exposing a dirty little secret. It is a struggle between crooked politics, human rights and the lack of moral consciousness to do what is right to end the cycle of abuse and mistreatment by those that hold the power, all set off by one man’s encounter with a young girl played by Noelle Wheeler.

Watch the trailer for Cathedral Canyon  HERE-trailer

A second film making a big splash is horror flick Speak No Evil filmed locally in Apache Junction, Arizona by Scottsdale SCC film professor Roze of Gas Mask Films.  The film stars scream queen legend Dee Wallace’s daughter Gabrielle Stone playing a young, single mom in a rural town where all the children mysteriously vanish but just as suddenly as they disappeared, they all return but something is not quite right. Only she and her daughter can eradicate the evil that has taken this town hostage, but her past dirtied with poor life decisions and fruitless love encounters may make that difficult and continue to haunt her as she battles her own demons within.

Watch the trailer for Speak No Evil  HERE-trailer

A third film which captures the memory of the local music scene in Tempe during the 90’s just before the Seattle grunge scene officially exploded is Stuck Outside of Phoenix based on a novel of the same name by Art Edwards. It follows the story of musician Hote who is faced with the choice of chasing his dreams in Seattle just as the scene is bubbling and ripe to erupt, or to stay and redefine the music scene at home but possibly never going anywhere other than the local circuit. You’ll find yourself reliving fond drunken moments of your youth and singing along to hits filled with teen angst in this comical, coming-of-age tale.

Watch the trailer for Stuck Outside of Phoenix  HERE-trailer

Also there is a series of “AZ Forbidden Films” being shown hosted by film critic and reviewer Bill Pierce as he explores taboo topics and work that has been shunned because of its “uncomfortable” or “undesirable” content. This section will most likely be for adult audiences as the selections may contain sex, violence and mature language.

To see a full schedule for the festival, purchase tickets or get general information visit the website, LIKE the Facebook page for updates and RSVP to event page. I do have 3 films showing in the festival including “ICE,” “Home Front” and the music video for Born of Fire’sIn the End” Hope to see you all there!

Watch the video for the festival: