The Big Picture

Two teenage girls holding cameras and yellow posters.
Katrina Kinder (left) and Isabella Kinder, Afterglow Film Festival Producers

Sisters use 4-H skills to produce film festival

“To successfully pull off something like that takes a lot of time and effort,” says Jan Walton, 4-H agent with the Mississippi State University Extension Service in Grenada County, where both girls were members at the time. “They were so busy with school, 4-H, and their other extracurricular activities that their mom, Nanette, didn’t want to put that extra pressure on them. But she later warmed up to the idea, and here we are.”

Katrina, 20, and Isabella, 17, who were homeschooled, wrapped up the third Grenada Afterglow Film Festival in October and have begun planning the fourth. Afterglow is a family-friendly event that includes venues for filmmakers, gamers, writers, artists, and performers, including singers, bands, dancers, and cosplay participants. Cosplayers perform by dressing in costumes that depict a variety of characters. Workshops are also offered. Topics for 2016 included claymation, drones, virtual reality, special effects makeup, and tech-based entrepreneurship.

“We always wanted to have a film festival,” Katrina says. “It was so much fun when we’d go with our mom. The atmosphere was great, and we always enjoyed seeing other people’s work and meeting them.

“The biggest reason our mom didn’t go for the festival on the first try was because we wanted to have it 6 months from the time we started talking about it. She told us we needed at least a year. She was right about that.”

Filmmakers from 60 countries entered 300 films for consideration for the 2016 Grenada Afterglow festival. The girls watch each one to make sure it is suitable for a family audience. Genres include comedies, dramas, documentaries, claymation, animation, and public service announcements.

Simultaneously, they write grants, recruit local sponsors, coordinate volunteers, book workshop instructors, find judges, design the event program, promote the festival through social media and advertisements, and manage their own film company, Diamondback Productions.

The girls have a lot of support when it comes to preparing for and holding the festival, but they take on the main responsibilities of planning and coordination, Walton says.

“I am so impressed with them, especially when you think about the fact that they were 17 and 14 years old when they started this festival,” she says. “But I knew they had the skills to do it. They have always been organized and diligent 4-H participants. I never had to remind them to meet their deadlines.”

As members of the Grenada County 4-H Leadership Team and Robotics Club, Katrina and Isabella practiced skills that help them produce the festival and run their film company.

“4-H has been a great learning experience for us,” Isabella says. “It allowed us to learn and practice our teamwork and organization abilities and to develop our passion for filmmaking.”

The girls won the first statewide 4-H film competition in 2011 for their documentary on Grenada Lake. They also have entered their films in festivals across the country. In 2014, both girls placed in the top three in the national “Do the Ride Thing” video competition with their public service announcements aimed at raising awareness of safe practices for riding all-terrain vehicles and dirt bikes.

The girls hope the festival is an inspiration to other young people.

“We want people who come to the festival to realize there are career opportunities related to filmmaking, gaming, writing, and other arts fields,” Isabella says. “If you want to work in the arts, the prospects aren’t limited to what you see every day.”

Afterglow is supported by Extension, the Downtown Grenada Development Association, Grenada Community Foundation, and Deborah Bailey. Bailey and her husband, Coley, provide several of their downtown buildings for film showings, art displays, and workshops. The festival is funded through local donations and grants from the Mississippi Arts Commission, the National Endowment for the Arts, and Visit Mississippi.

The 2017 Grenada Afterglow Film Festival is scheduled for October 6 and 7 in downtown Grenada.

MSU Extension Service
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