Art show marks CMM milestone

We can think of no better way to kick off our week than by waxing nostalgic about today’s free-to-attend event at the Art Theater, 126 W. Church St., Champaign, which commemorates the first decade of the Champaign Movie Makers networking group. Beginning at 7:30 p.m. and lasting until around 10 p.m., the collage of film shorts, trailers, and Webisodes put together by CMM organizer Thomas Nicol will sample work by group members dating all the way back to the summer of 2008, when founder Johnny Robinson began inviting like minds into his Urbana residence so they could discuss movie storytelling as well as conduct hands-on demonstrations of technique for one another. Interest escalated quickly enough that CMM bounced around town for a host to accommodate their space and projection needs, eventually settling on the Champaign Public Library. While similar attempts have been made over the years in Champaign-Urbana, CMM turned out to be the one situated for the long haul.

Very few projects engineered by members can be rightly labeled “CMM productions” – the monthly gathering is meant to foster interaction and advice instead of serving as a de facto production meeting – although working relationships come out of the group regularly. (Their largest collective success to date has been as a driving force behind the annual Pens to Lens Screenwriting Competition + Gala.) Having sporadically sat in with them from the beginning, we can attest to the fact that CMM is a vital component of what we do in the film culture of C-U and, more importantly, it fits the community that it serves. One might have been tempted at any point to artificially grow CMM into a commercial entity or align it more closely with other professional organizations in an effort to “legitimize” its core purpose in the public eye; Nicol and company have elected to maintain a reasonable scope and tailor CMM to what its participants want from it. Moreover, filmmaking novices and newly-arrived neighbors will find it an accessible hub through which they can learn what’s what in our scene. We wish Champaign Movie Makers the best in its next 10 years and trust the citizens of our fair Twin Cities will turn out tonight in a show of support for their efforts!

~ Jason Pankoke

p.s. We’re avoiding spoilers about what will play since Nicol has not posted the schedule publicly. (You should go in with an open mind and sense of adventure, anyway.) That said, we have skimmed over the itinerary and it reminds us greatly of our original C-U Confidential movie show at Urbana’s Caffe Paradiso in early 2009. Some of the earliest pieces you will see tonight even appeared in that program when they were relatively new. Cue the local movie déjà vu, folks!

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