ETSU faculty, students key collaborators in upcoming Johnson City Film Festival

November 8–09, 2019 @ Johnson City

JOHNSON CITY – Numerous East Tennessee State University faculty members and students are key collaborators in planning and coordinating the inaugural Johnson City Film Festival, which is held Nov. 8-9 at several locations in downtown Johnson City.

The festival is a project of the newly formed Northeast Tennessee Entertainment Alliance, ETSU, Mancuso Entertainment and other partners. Designed to celebrate the work of filmmakers, the festival shows films in the categories of short films, feature films and documentaries. Submissions for the event have been received from Tennessee, North Carolina, Georgia, California, New York, Wisconsin, Canada, Australia, Turkey, the United Kingdom and more.

“The ETSU community will benefit from the festival as it will bring filmmakers to town from across the country and abroad, boost the media economy for ETSU graduates, and help to cultivate an appreciation and appetite for independent filmmaking,” said Shara Lange, an associate professor and coordinator of the Radio/Television/Film division of ETSU’s Department of Media and Communication.

The Programming Team for the festival is headed by Drs. Matthew Holtmeier and Chelsea Wessels, co-directors of the Film Studies Minor Program in ETSU’s Department of Literature and Language. Holtmeier and Wessels, both of whom have worked with numerous film festivals before coming to ETSU, are selecting and scheduling films for the festival.

Film selections include work by ETSU students and recent graduates, such as “Rudy’s Watches” by Jordan Clark, which won awards in the 2019 “Made in East Tennessee” film festival and the Tennessee Communication Association Showcase; “The Making of Split Hoof, Vol. 1 (The Book)” by Dylan Rutherford; and “After Life” by Max Schaffner.

New adjunct faculty member Brad Bode, who teaches “RTVF Practices,” is using the festival to give real-world media production and event public relations opportunities to his students in the Department of Media and Communication, and students from across campus will have opportunities to volunteer and attend the festival.

The Media and Communication Department is hosting several community workshops. New faculty member Stokes Piercy will provide free workshops for film festival ticket holders on filming action and comedy scenes, and alumnus Ray Jones will discuss screenwriting. Alumnus Tim Altonen, who is currently an electrical equipment technician at ETSU, will lead a workshop on “No-Budget Filmmaking.”

The Media and Communication Department is also offering a special section of its Adobe Premiere Pro certification course and exam prior to the festival on Nov. 7-8. Registration information on the Premier Pro course is available on the department’s website,

A free film workshop for kids is offered by Little Bucs, ETSU’s child care facility serving children of students enrolled at the university, on Nov. 9 from 10 a.m. to noon in the RTVF television studio, located in room 107b of Warf-Pickel Hall on the ETSU campus. Little Bucs recently did a film project with children during its summer camp and is building on that experience in creating a fun, hands-on workshop for young children during the Johnson City Film Festival.

Following the children’s workshop, a free filmmaking workshop for teens is led by RTVF students from noon-2 p.m. in the same location.

The Johnson City Film Festival is sponsored by the Tennessee Entertainment Commission, Mancuso Entertainment, Plan A Films, Johnson City Aerial Photography, ETSU’s Language and Culture Resource Center, Hillhouse Creative, Doubletake Web Design, the Northeast Tennessee Regional Economic Partnership, Bristol Motor Speedway, Downtown Johnson City, the city of Johnson City, Cardinal Financial Co., the Chamber of Commerce of Johnson City-Jonesborough-Washington County, The Mall at Johnson City and Boomtown Improv.

For complete festival information, including the schedule, maps and ticket information, visit

Category: Film