Filmmaking has always been a part of the city of Ogden, and it has a unique history here. Paramount Pictures’ mountain logo – the second-oldest movie studio in America – was inspired by Ogden’s Ben Lomond Peak. Classic movies like “The Sandlot,” “Dumb and Dumber” and the currently-running TV show “Yellowstone,” starring Kevin Costner, have all filmed in Ogden.
On Nov. 8 and 9, the third annual Ogden Film Festival returned to Peery’s Egyptian Theater, honoring Ogden’s longstanding cinematic connection.
The film screenings started playing on Nov. 8, with the first featuring the Best of Narrative Short Films at 7 p.m. The second showing featured the Best Short Films, which was only available for those seventeen and up.
One of the narrative films was an animated short called “Layers,” about a man climbing up a mountain and changing into different forms as he went along.
“I really like to think about what the human soul is like,” director of the film Scott Wiser said. “I spent two years storyboarding and the animation took about six months.”
“By D Grace of God,” another narrative short that played, was produced by Ben Taylor, who spoke about basing the film on an interaction that he had online.
Taylor was contacted by a man named Joel, who said that he could use some money to help out himself and his family in Liberia. Taylor at first thought it was a scam, but he decided to offer Joel pay to send him some pictures of Africa.
The first photos came back blurry, so Taylor decided to send him a camera so Joel could take some better pictures.
The photos Joel sent back were improved, and Taylor decided to assemble them into a book showing the photography. The money from the book went to charities and backpacks for Joels community.
The movie ended up getting made after Taylor received another email.
“I got an email from a guy named Prince in Nigeria, and he said, ‘I want to be a filmmaker and is there anything I can do for you,’” Taylor said.
Taylor — with the help of Prince — found a film crew in Nigeria, hired actors and made the movie. Taylor explained the title of the movie, highlighting how Joel prefaced their communications with the phrase “by d grace of God.”
The final narrative short film was called “Tank Man,” and was a fictional account of how the day may have gone for the man standing in front of a tank in the famous photograph taken in 1989 in Tienanmen Square in Beijing, China.
“I’ve always been a big lover of history, so I wanted to make it as authentic as possible,” director Robert Anthony Peters said. “We were able to have a great crew, and I got huge favors from people. We also had a grant from a great organization, and they gave us $10,000.”
Opening the three screenings on Nov. 9 was the Looney Tunes Children’s Fest, which festival continued throughout the day with two more screenings of Documentary Short Films and Outdoor Shorts.
Some of these documentary films were “Chu Bien,” “England 2 France” and the “Tides that Bind.” “Chu Bien” focused on a Vietnamese boatman who, at over the age of 60 years old, still gives river tours and spends 20 hours a day on his boat interacting with tourists.
“England 2 France” focused on Australian swimmer Don Riddington, who became the third-oldest person to swim the English Channel at age 68.
The final film, “The Tides That Bind,” was about Clint Buffington, who collects messages in bottles from ocean shores and rivers. He has found over 93 letters and has even met up with some of the people who have sent them.
Buffington explained afterward why he enjoys collecting the messages.
“I grew up in a family where we would never just go on a walk in the woods, but we would always be looking for something, mushrooms or some type of edible plant as my dad was a botanist,” he said.
Buffington even brought out the latest message that he has found and brought it out on stage to open to end the night of documentary films.
The festival has grown every year over the past few years, according to co-founder Kasey LaRose.
“We had more screenings than last year, and we hope that the festival continues to grow,” LaRose said.
Ann Reeder, house manager of the theater, noted the attendance numbers accounted for both days of the festival.
“Last year, we had about 400 people, but it was only one night,” Reeder said. “This year, I think we got about the same number but over the two nights.”