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Meet the Boise Film Underground, a Band of Indie Filmmakers Hard at Work in Idaho

Photo of Ryan Lattanzio By Ryan Lattanzio | TOH! April 10, 2014 at 6:45AM

Give it a few years, and Idaho's Sun Valley Film Festival could be a spring Telluride: an intimate, filmmaker-friendly event buzzing with savvy cinephiles and industry mavens, and screening top international art cinema either off the festival circuit or for the first time. Here are five reasons why you should go.

Thriving in the burgeoning heart of Idaho's cinema scene is the Boise Film Underground, a collective of hard-working, independent-minded filmmakers and movie lovers who're doing what they want and getting away with it. They're young, tech-savvy, ambitious and far less jaded than the MFA-wielding, camera-slinging filmmakers you might encounter in LA or New York. 

The great thing about working as a filmmaker in Idaho, as I learned during the Sun Valley Film Festival and Treefort Film and Music Festival in the Gem State last month, is that you don't need a second day job. Filmmaking is a livelihood for folks in the Boise Film Underground, who travel under the cheeky moniker "BFUG." 

Give it a few years and Idaho's Sun Valley and Treefort fests -- both teeming with BFUG members -- will be must-attend events, buzzing with cinephiles and industry players while screening top international art cinema fresh off the festival circuit. Both festivals just wrapped their third year. (This year, Sun Valley drew Ron Yerxa, Jim Burke, Mariel Hemingway, Kevin Smith, Alison Pill and Jess Weixler, to name a few.)

Meanwhile, BFUG, founded in 2013 following a weekend at the Seattle True Independent Film Festival, is part of that paradigm shift. Why work your ass off in LA for little pay and paltry street cred? 

One of BFUG's sponsors is Jake Fullilove, who founded Imperium Cinema, which allows denizens of the Idaho filmmaking community to rent the otherwise pricey -- and much-coveted -- Red EPIC cameras, now a mainstay in both independent and mainstream film (from "Antichrist" to "The Hobbit" and "Captain America: The Winter Soldier"). Fullilove certainly has a corner on that market, as these are the only industry-standard cameras available for rent in Idaho.

With a bent toward experimental films, BFUG offers Idaho filmmakers a pool of resources not only in terms of equipment, but also as a place to turn to if you're looking for an editor, a sound guru, a composer and other below-the-line artists. BFUG has also set up a YouTube channel, BFUG TV, with videos from Treefort, and local filmmakers' own shorts and music videos. Coming up is BFUG's "CarTunes" series, which solicits old royalty-free cartoons with newly composed music.

Here's how you can participate in BFUG.

This article is related to: Sun Valley, Sun Valley Film Festival, Festivals, Treefort Film Festival, News, Features, Boise Film Underground

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Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.