Dave Witt heads up Las Cruces’ newest film festival.
Dave Witt brings his strong work ethic and military experience to his current roles as a filmmaker and the executive director/CEO of the Borderlands Film Festival, taking place this year October 2 through 7. After a seven-year stint as a combat medic in the Army, he turned his attention to graduating with honors from NMSU with a degree in Creative Media and working in films. You may have seen him in Transformers 2 as a flight medic working to save the character played by Shia LaBeouf. His line was, he recalls, “Ready to shock…one, two, three!”
In 2012, Dave began making films and working with the Las Cruces International Film Festival (LCIFF). He produced and edited The Heart Outright in 2014, written by Mark Medoff and directed by Ross Marks. Then he wrote and directed his own short, Doc, about a female combat medic, for which he received several awards. (Check it out on VetStreamTV.com.)
His second year with LCIFF, Dave served as the artistic director, gaining more experience for when he set off to develop the area’s second film festival, the Borderlands Film Festival. In its first year, 2018, the new festival attracted over 250 film submissions from over 30 countries, which Dave said is much higher than usual for a new event. Due to his strong connection to fellow veterans, submissions from military vets can be made with no entry free and he helps connect them with distribution through VetStreamTV.
The focus of the festival is a bit different from LCIFF, which Dave says is geared mostly toward helping beginning filmmakers gain experience and connections. He says, “Our festival is a professional-run film festival where filmmakers can sell their film and meet new filmmakers for their next project. Local filmmakers can meet filmmakers from outside the area. We provide them with the infrastructure of the area, show how beautiful the Borderlands is, and so maybe when they’re writing their next movie, they think of Las Cruces. We’ll do our best during the six-day event to impress them.”
He adds, “Distributors will be coming and may pick up films. They’ll have meetings with the filmmakers. We do as much as we can for filmmakers to sell their films. We’re more of an industry festival than a consumer festival, but we still want the consumers to have a great experience. We’re going to have tons of panels and workshops and masterclasses as well as events that will be free to the community.”
Dave is paying attention to what is going on in the country when determining areas of focus for his festival. That includes women, military vets, and Borderland issues. He says, “Those topics attracted a lot of filmmakers because we’re shining the spotlight on some groups that need a spotlight shined on them.”
But he isn’t restricting his festival to Las Cruces. Dave plans to have smaller festivals throughout the Southwest, bringing back some of the stars and showing films from the Borderlands Festival in Las Cruces. The first satellite festival is planned for Truth or Consequences.
“The festival wouldn’t happen without the work of many talented professionals,” Dave notes. “Our associate directors and board are top-notch individuals, and the other officers, COO Dr. Michael Evans and CSO David Salcido, are my partners. Running a festival is a full-time job, but that’s only eight hours a day. I still have eight hours a day to do other things. I don’t mind working my ass off. I just want to be happy when I’m doing it.”
For more information about the Borderlands Film Festival, go to borderlandsfilmfestival.com.
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