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Nebraska Film: Rachel Jacobson of Film Streams

The entrance to Film Streams, located at 14th & Mike Fahey Street. Photo courtesy of Tom Kessler, via Flickr.

Editor’s Note: This article is part of a series titled Nebraska Film: An Exploration of the Growing Community. Learn more about the goals of this series and find links to its articles in our announcement: Nebraska Film series starts Monday, August 9.

When Film Streams opened in Omaha’s North Downtown district in the summer of 2007 it revealed its lofty mission: “Enhance the cultural environment of the Omaha-Council Bluffs area through the presentation and discussion of film as an art form.”

The nonprofit art-house theater, which has the involvement of accomplished Omaha natives Alexander Payne and Kurt Anderson, set about achieving its goal through programming, from first-run films to partnerships with nonprofits. But their latest undertaking, the Local Filmmakers Showcase, has Film Streams pursuing its community-minded mission by shining its spotlight on the local filmmaking community for the first time.

“I’m really excited about what’s going on in filmmaking here,” said Rachel Jacobson, Film Streams’ founder and director (left). “We saw with the [Showcase] submissions that there’s really a lot of people that are making films that are really coming from a genuine voice. They’re not trying to emulate anything that’s going on in New York or LA, they’re trying to make films that speak to their experience and their perspective.

“I think people will see that there’s a specific flavor to [the Showcase] that definitely seems very Nebraskan,” Jacobson said. She added that even though submissions were accepted from Iowa and South Dakota, the 14 films chosen by the independent jury were all by Nebraska directors.

Photo courtesy of Film Streams via Flickr.

Last week, after I interviewed Jacobson for our Showcase preview, I asked her a few questions about Omaha’s filmmaking community. Here our her thoughts on a variety of topics:

The filmmaking community:

I think there’s a lot of different efforts going on that are really, really exciting, but the thing is they’re all in different areas. It’s a little bit like there’s little pockets of things going on and there’s overlap … but the community could be a little bit more unified so hopefully that’s something that this showcase can do and that the Omaha Film Festival continues to do a great job of.

The tax incentives for filmmaking in Omaha is a big effort that’s going on right now, and that’s definitely brought a lot of people from different areas in the filmmaking community together.

The filmmakers:

It’s cool to see people making films on different levels. I mean, of course, there’s Alexander [Payne], who’s an amazing Academy Award winner. There’s Nik Fackler who made this incredible film (Lovely, Still) with Ellen Burstyn and Martin Landau. And then there’s other filmmakers going on, so there’s all these different levels of dissemination and different ways that this voice is starting to kind of trickle out there … I hope to see it happen kind of like the music industry happened where people start to be aware that there’s something going on here with this art form, so we’ll see if that happens. The film incentives thing passing would make a huge difference in sort of supporting that and facilitating it.

Directors evolving from short films to feature films:

Nik [Fackler] started out making these music videos – he’s super passionate about music, as well. But he always had the dream of becoming a feature filmmaker. I think there’s other filmmakers, and there’s a few in the showcase, who work specifically within the short film world, and that’s the format that they want to work in, and that’s great.

There’s other people that make it kind of more as a mode of expression like any other visual art, like a sculptor would or a painter would. And you see that kind of work represented, too. I think there’s diverse reasons for making movies, obviously, and I think that this film community has just about everything you can imagine. But the trajectory to making a feature film usually does start with someone making shorts first, and that’s what they recommend that you do anyway.

The future:

I think we’re sort of at the beginning of something that has a lot of potential. I mean I think there’s been a film scene here for a long time but now it’s definitely starting to take stride … now that’s it’s so much more accessible and easier to make movies, cheaper to make movies, I think we’ll see a lot more so that’s really exciting.

What’s next at Film Streams:

We’ve got a date for Feature … it’ll be February 20th. Feature is our annual gala. The first year we had Laura Dern, last year we had Debra Winger, this year we have a different kind of guest but someone that I think a lot of people are going to be really, really excited about and we’re gonna be announcing that within the next month or so.

To hear more from Jacobson about the Showcase, see Friday’s article: Film Streams’ Local Filmmakers Showcase kicks off tonight.

To hear more from Jacobson about the founding of Film Streams, see our article published this past March: Rachel Jacobson tells Film Streams story, an art-house theater in Omaha.

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