While the Peace River Film Festival brought film entries from all over the world, it also attracted some special guests.
One such guest was Larry Bestor, chairman of ATI Networks, founder of MovieCentral and the soon-to-be-launched Bold Venture. Bestor was invited to the film festival by local filmmaker Keith Tracy because of Bestor’s long-standing interest in promoting film.
Bestor was a special guest at a private reception for local filmmakers held Saturday at the Visual Arts Center in Punta Gorda. There, he explained how he originally conceived of the idea for MovieCentral, which is now the largest movie library in the world, as well as the idea behind Bold Venture.
“I got the idea for MovieCentral in 1999 as a way for movie lovers to have fast access to all kinds of movies,” said Bestor. “Broadband distribution hadn’t happened yet, but I knew it would be here quickly. Fiber networks were being installed all over, and print was already being distributed on the Internet, so I knew broadband distribution would be available quickly.”
With broadband in place, Bestor launched MovieCentral in 2004. Initially, the service was free to producers to post their films, and users were charged $19.95 annually to access movies.
Bold Venture, which he plans to launch Nov. 1, will be an Internet distribution medium for films longer than five but shorter in length than 30 minutes.
“It will be a venue for independent film makers whose films are of higher quality, and longer than what you’d see on YouTube, for example,” said Bestor. “Everyone can apply to have their film included, but we’ll be selective as to what’s chosen.”
There will be a nominal fee for Bold Venture, Bestor said.
Elizabeth Billings, artistic director of the Peace River Film Festival, also was at the private reception.
“Independent films are about the message more than the quality of their production or their budget,” said Billings. “It’s the way their stories touch people that makes them special.”
Owner of Eliza Blue Productions, Billings said she always wanted to be a film editor and enjoyed that role. But after stepping into the role of director for several local filmmakers, she realized she had an affinity for the creative side as well. That excitement carried over into her role as artistic director of the festival.
“I love the element of bringing filmmakers together, and to be able to provide the audience with good films,” said Billings. “I got involved to share the creative energy of other artists. We all do this for the love of film.”
Michele Valencourt, executive director of the Visual Arts Center, was responsible for putting together the private reception for the filmmakers.