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Filmmaker captures fact, fantasy in the Mojave Desert

Las Vegas, Nev.-based artist Wess Dahl-Berg in a scene from “Nocturnal Landscapes,” by Oliver Bell.

Las Vegas, Nev.-based artist Wess Dahl-Berg in a scene from “Nocturnal Landscapes,” by Oliver Bell.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Oliver Bell has never felt like a filmmaker.

The videographer cut his teeth making skate videos and other projects over the course of his career. It wasn’t until the Taos Shortz Film Fest in 2012 that Bell felt like he arrived.

“During the screening of my film, I had a badge to wear on there and it read, ‘Oliver Bell, filmmaker,'” he explains. “That was the first time I truly felt a part of the film community. I also had never seen any of my work on the big screen and it felt surreal.”

If you go
WHAT: Taos Shortz Film Festival
WHEN: 1-10 p.m. Thursday, March 7 and Friday, March 8; 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Saturday, March 9 and March 10
WHERE: Various locations around Taos
HOW MUCH: $5-$15 for individual programs at www.brownpapertickets.com/profile/41809

In this year’s festival, which takes place from Thursday, March 7-March 10, Bell will be screening his current short film, “Nocturnal Landscapes.” He created the short with Las Vegas, Nev.-based artist Wess Dahl-Berg.

The duo worked together – in the middle of summer – on creating the documentary about 50 miles outside of Las Vegas in the Mojave Desert.

Dahl-Berg’s creations are done by meticulously layering pure color to render the physical world into darkness. His canvases decisively bring the viewer to a place of fact and fantasy.

Bell says the three-week shoot, which consisted of 12 days of actual shooting, was an experience to remember.

“We had a camera that was running all the time,” he explains. “Then we also had about three other cameras capturing footage. There’s one part of the film that is time lapse and I think that came out really well.”

Bell’s film is one of 88 that will be screened at the four-day event.

Ann Cosentine, festival director, says there were more than 300 submissions from 18 different countries. The festival will have 10 programs that include sections from local filmmakers to global filmmakers.

The festival is in its sixth year and has seen amazing growth in the short-film world, she says.

Bell says making videos is something that he’s been doing since high school. He moved to California to attend school at Santa Barbara City College to study video production.

“When I first started, I really wanted to make skateboard videos,” he says. “But that’s a hard thing to crack into. There are a lot of interesting people who have been making the videos for a long time and are just now being recognized for it.”

When it came to editing the film, Bell says it was a team effort. There were more than 100 hours of footage and it got edited down to 17 minutes.

“Wess is an artist in the truest sense of the word,” he explains. “He had a vision for what he wanted to accomplish. We had to start some sort of dialogue online and just create from there. Before I actually went out there, I had never met him. I was taking a leap of faith because it sounded like such an interesting project. He challenged me and I’m really happy that I did it and can’t wait to have it screen and get the feedback.”

AN international splash: New Mexico filmmaker Lindsy Campbell kind of fell into making movies. The aspiring actress studied at the prestigious The New York Conservatory for Dramatic Arts before realizing she wanted to direct and write films. Her directorial debut, “The Brazilian,” was finished late last year and is being featured in the Women in Film and Television International Short Film Showcase. The event will begin at 7 p.m. Friday, March 8 at the Special Collections Library, 423 E. Central. For more information, visit www.nmwif.com.

“The Brazilian,” follows the story of two female friends. One is a simple inexperienced girl who finds a long-held crush wanting to date her. Her best friend’s advice leads her down an uncomfortable road.

“It’s about a Brazilian waxing gone wrong,” Campbell laughs. “It’s based on a true story from my best friend. Being friends for such a long time, we’ve discussed some very private matters. When she was telling me this story, it was hilarious and immediately started thinking about making this into a film.”

Campbell was reared in Las Cruces and moved to New York when she was 17. She moved back to the Duke City and finished up her film.

“There were so many factors that came together in making this film,” she says. “It was filmed in New York over two days and we did all of the pre- and post-production in New Mexico. It all seemed to work out.”

Campbell says having the short film selected for the Women in Film event was a weird blessing.

“I was invited to a meeting and they were taking submissions for this festival,” she explains. “I had just finished the director’s cut and submitted it. The film was chosen to represent the New Mexico chapter and this was a great thing.”

Campbell is looking forward to her next project.

“This one has been received so well that I’ve been humbled by all of the response,” she says. “I’m scared to top my next film, yet I can’t wait to start the next one.”

SEND ME YOUR TIPS: If you know of a movie filming in the state, or are curious about one, email film@ABQjournal.com. Follow me on Twitter @agomezART.

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