April 11, 2019
Writer: Virginia Henry

Rexburg will hold its first film festival this spring. The Grand Teton Film Festival will debut May 31 through June 1. This festival has a lot of fun activities to offer and an intriguing back story of its own.

“We initially weren’t planning on doing something so big,” said Steven Vest, the founder and director of the Grand Teton Film Festival.

Vest explained that he and the committee for the festival wanted to be taken seriously and attract films from everywhere. With that goal in mind they realized they would have to go big or go home.

Vest admitted he didn’t think they would reach this magnitude for their debut year. The committee had agreed ahead of time to table the project if any road blocks came up. But with all the support from the community and city Vest said everything has just kept snowballing.

The festival will span several days and offer a variety of films, activities, and entertainment.

Industry professionals will teach workshops. Vest clarified there won’t be panel discussions or PowerPoint presentations.

“They’re going to be doing hands on interactive workshops so people can learn how to do stuff and be inspired to go out and create,” Vest said.

There will be a street fair on Center Street with food vendors, live entertainment, and booths with the sponsors of the festival.

The films will be shown at the Paramount 5 Theater, Romance Theater, and Rexburg Tabernacle Civic Center.

Vest said people can take a break from films or workshops and go get treats and then go back inside for more!

The first night of the film festival will be a formal black tie gala. Vest said that event is pretty exclusive with limited seats open for the public.

“It’s more for the film makers, and VIP guests, sponsors and partners of the festival,” Vest said. “Just kind of a thank you gala for supporting the film festival.”

Awards will be presented on the last night of the event.

“We’ve got a killer award show planned,” Vest assured.

He explained he’s been to other film shows and the award shows fell flat. He wanted to make sure they do something big and fun. They’ve partnered with Madison High School to do the award show in the auditorium there. In addition, the BYU-Idaho Theatre Department is planning the show opener and designing everything. He said he’s grateful to have them on board.

After the award show, musician William Joseph will play a 90-minute celebratory concert to end the weekend with a bang.

With regards to the film submissions they’ve received films from all over the U.S. Not only that, but they’ve had films submitted from Iran, Ireland, Mexico, and New Zealand.

If people still want to submit a film, they are accepting late submissions until May 1. Film Freeway is the platform Vest is using. Film makers can create a profile and then upload their movie and any extra content. With just a few clicks you can submit a film to the festival.

Vest reminded everyone the film festival is designed to be family friendly.

“We’ve been very strict with our viewer content requirements,” Vest said. He assures that families who come don’t have to worry about seeing or hearing inappropriate content.

There are six different film categories. There will be feature films, short films, animated short films, documentaries, music videos, and home movies. The home movies category is to encourage youth to participate. Kids can make a backyard video with an iPhone if they want to try out film making.

“I’ve been to other film festivals where they’ve done home movie programs and they’re really popular,” Vest said. “In fact, a lot of times, those home movie blocks are more attended than the other films.”

Vest himself has always been a film enthusiast. He didn’t pursue it until his wife suggested he study video. He studied video production at BYU-Idaho and graduated in 2014. In 2013 he founded his own company Synergy Digital. He produced a feature length documentary that was shown in theaters here and in Utah, on Temple Square, and at the LDS Film Festival.

That experience inspired him to support film making. For the last six years he has organized a premiere night for the short film class at BYU-Idaho. The films would be shown and everyone would get to dress up and celebrate their efforts.

Vest said he often got approached by others outside of the class wanting to submit films. Vest had to say no. It was those requests that planted the idea to someday do a film festival. Now, that small dream has become a reality.

For more information about the film festival visit grandtetonfilm.org.