Low Key Arts recently hired Brad Burleson as its first director of development, a newly-created position tasked with closing the funding gap seen by programs of the nonprofit -- specifically Inception to Projection.
"I think one of the biggest things about this program is what it can do for our city, what it can do for students themselves," Burleson said. "We didn't have resources like this 20 years ago in Hot Springs."
Late last year, Burleson had two films screen at the Arkansas Shorts Film Festival that he had completed while participating in the program as a student. The six-week class takes students from the brainstorming phase all the way to screening at the festival.
Students of the program learn everything from script writing to camera angles while they make their vision a reality. Near the end of the class, participants take turns directing while other students work in various crew positions, including boom mic operator, camera operator, lighting crew and more. Then the students work on editing their film using professional editing software like Adobe Premier, which is used in major Hollywood films.
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The Inception to Projection program was recently expanded to a year-round endeavor as the organization moved into a new dedicated studio space and Arkansas Shorts expanded to a three-day event.
Twenty-eight Inception to Projection films were finished and screened at last year's festival, eclipsing the usual eight to 10 films in other years.
The program, which costs $325, has drawn aspiring high school filmmakers as well as adults looking for a fun way to express themselves. According to Burleson, students have taken their finished film to help them apply to film programs at schools such as Columbia University, Chapman University, University of Texas at Austin and University of Southern California.
With all this growth and the recent Joey Lauren Adams Lifetime exclusive movie, "Betrayed by my Bridesmaid," being filmed around town, Burleson hopes to facilitate the budding film scene in Hot Springs.
As more shorts and feature-length movies are filmed here, the city becomes more attractive for bigger future projects. The production savings and the increase in trained crew members can help the city stand out as a film hub of the South.
According to a news release on Burleson's new title, he most recently held the title of director of customer experience for ExecuStay Corporate Housing, where he served for 16 years. "Brad brings to the table 25 years of extensive work for nonprofits through fundraising, chairing events, mentoring youth, and serving on various boards throughout Central Arkansas," it said.
In his several volunteering efforts, he serves on the board of the Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival, producing nightly events for the 10-day festival. Being well-established in the Hot Springs community and having a background in the creative world could work in his favor as he seeks to secure funding for Low Key Arts.
"Just knowing people, building relationships with people is going to be vital for this organization," Burleson said. "I know what it takes to make a nonprofit happen, and that's money."
Burleson is beginning his fundraising campaign with a goal of $25,000 for the month of February. These funds will go toward funding scholarships for future program participants, new equipment purchases, miscellaneous items such as computer software and food for film crew and more.
He plans to solicit the funds from local businesses, foundations, individuals and online donations.
"We hope that this new position will bring some momentum to the raising of funds," he said.
As a former student of the Inception to Projection program and a longtime fan of the organization's music and film festivals, Burleson said he is excited to work with Low Key Arts on growing the local film community.
"It's just such great promotion for the city, for our community partners," he said. "Because we are launching a film scene right here in Hot Springs."
For more information, visit https://www.lowkeyarts.org/.