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Doc Sunback Film Festival Returns With A Look At Wichita Filmmakers

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The Doc Sunback Film Festival in Mulvane returns this weekend after being postponed last year due to the pandemic.

Opening the festival is the film Lights, Camera, Wichita, a documentary profiling 38 Wichitans who are part of the filmmaking world, as they talk about how they got started and what they’ve learned along the way. KMUW's Fletcher Powell recently sat down with director Raymond J. Reiss to talk about the film.

This interview was edited for length and clarity.

Fletcher Powell: Well, full disclosure, right up front. You're a longtime friend of my family's from way before I was even born. And so actually, because of that, I know that you've had a toe in the Wichita film world for decades. And something that really jumps out from your movie is just the sheer number of people you are able to talk to who are making movies here. And I'm wondering if that's something that even given your years of experience that surprised you.

Raymond J. Reiss: Yeah, well, it began when I went to a couple of meetings with filmmakers, and I think the second meeting, I found this older gentleman about at least 10 years younger than me and we hit it off and that was Fritz Robinson.

Fritz Robinson, your producing partner and also the director of photography on the movie.

Yes, he is the editor and photography. He is brilliant. I learned a lot from him. I could have probably made an OK mediocre film, but he made me better than I am. But, we began and first of all, we had to figure out what we're going to ask and the questions and the priorities. And we went over that and over that and came up with what we thought were some pretty good questions. And, um, that's how it began.

Well, something we hear a lot in the movie is the filmmakers describing how they got started, just by “figuring it out.” And of course we don't have a complex filmmaking infrastructure here like you might in Los Angeles or New York, but people have still figured out a way to do this.

Yeah, it’s flourishing. I mean, anybody interested in going into movie making, I think it's a film [that] gives a perspective on what you go through, the pros and cons and you know, each person has a different story and that's kind of what it is. It's just not one thing. “Hey, I can’t make films because…”

Anybody can, if they really want to. And I hope that comes across.

Was there anything that really opened your eyes while you were putting the movie together, maybe something that you'd never even considered?

That we could take on a project this big. I mean, that was not just setting up or having people come to us. I mean, it's very time consuming, plus the paperwork involved and getting rights and it's just like, wow, it was a major project. Lots of paperwork. Be prepared.