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Local filmmakers offer showbiz advice

Jacob Cloud, an aspiring cinematographer, and his brother Destry, who wants to be an actor, spent most of Saturday at the 24 Hour Film School to find out what it takes to break into the entertainment business and succeed under the hot lights of Hollywood.

"I'm learning the lingo, the out-of-the-classroom stuff that a professional filmmaker in the business can tell me," said Jacob Cloud, 23, who graduated in December from Carson Newman College in Jefferson City, Tenn.

He and Destry, a senior theater major at Carson Newman, were among 30 participants at an informational and networking seminar about the film industry at the Lexington Hilton Garden Inn.

The brothers said they hope to attend graduate school in film and theater to gain more experience. But they were soaking up practical advice Saturday from three successful Kentucky filmmakers.

The film school, organized by writer and director David Donnelly of Florence, is presented in different cities throughout the year. It is scheduled for Chicago on Jan. 30.

Donnelly was joined by Lexington filmmaker Arthur Rouse, who owns Kentucky Film Lab, and director and writer Jason Epperson, first runner-up in the reality show On The Lot, director Steven Spielberg's worldwide search for talented, undiscovered filmmakers.

For almost two hours the audience of approximately 30 people asked questions of the professionals about what it really takes to break into the film business and get their work noticed.

Later sessions were scheduled to focus on how to sell your script, get an agent, sell investors on your project and improve the chances of achieving the acting career you want.

Most of Saturday's opening session focused on ways to maximize a limited budget.

In a bit of encouraging news for novice independent filmmakers, Donnelly told his audience people no longer have to move to Los Angeles or New York to get their work noticed "because more and more films are getting made outside of L.A."

Donnelly is in post-production on his first feature film, Doctor Feelgood. Donnelly wrote and directed the film about a doctor who writes prescriptions for money.

If your goal is to make a feature film, he said, "Take your money and hire the best director of photography you can afford, because that person can make your film look good."

Epperson said to shoot one scene that looks "phenomenal," and then go out and pitch your movie using "that one great scene."

Also, Epperson urged his audience to be friendly when going for an audition, and use their best manners.

"Be complimentary of people," he said. "Just being nice goes a long way in this business."

Donnelly said an actor who flubs his lines during an audition should not "stop and apologize."

"Everybody messes up, even people who make millions of dollars," he said. "Just keep going — in character."