Phones for films

JANESVILLE—The ability to make a movie is in the hands of anyone who owns a smartphone these days, and that tool could be the start of something big for Janesville.

The Janesville Performing Arts Center is asking people to make their own films, and JPAC will collect them and edit them into a group expression from the community.

There’s no title yet, but it could be “Here’s What We Did While Confined to Our Homes.”

JPAC Executive Director Nathan Burkart said he has heard a lot of interest since JPAC offered the program last week as a reaction to the crisis surrounding COVID-19.

The rules are simple: Create a script. Use your children, spouses, parents, dogs, cats, paper cutouts or goldfish as actors, and shoot a short home movie. Try to keep it to less than 10 minutes. Submit it to info@Janesville by April 3.

Burkart said if the stay-at-home situation is extended, the deadline could be extended, too.

“Don’t worry about editing and trying to make it perfect. We just want to see your creativity and see how our community can continue to inspire through the arts during this difficult time,” JPAC said in its announcement.

JPAC will compile a “movie trailer” of snippets from the movies to share with the community.

“Then, at a later date, when things get back to normal, we will all come together for a full-on movie screening celebration in the historic JPAC theater.”

JPAC encourages people to shoot their movies in their homes and on their properties.

“Please keep all content family-friendly. JPAC reserves the right to refuse any movies submitted that contain inappropriate content,” the announcement states.

Burkart said the idea has caught on with other performing arts centers around the state, and it’s possible a statewide edition of the final product will be made.

“The way I see JPAC’s role in this is to find a way to help the community heal” from the hurts imposed by the virus, and to “get minds off all the crazy that’s happening in this world today,” he said.

If this works well, JPAC might make the filmmaking project a regular part of its programming, maybe with a different theme each year, Burkart said.

Other ideas

JPAC staff also is working to adapt its youth music and theater classes to online versions.

“If we just sit down and say we’re not going to do anything anymore, that’s when we lose our magic here,” Burkart said.

JPAC staff are surveying local artists, asking for thoughts on how to offer online performances while creating a revenue stream that makes it all sustainable, maybe with a “donate” button.

JPAC recently hosted a live-streamed performance of its popular “Dueling Pianos” series. The performance was at another venue and gathered a live audience of more than 350, with 11,000 watching the video later. Burkart believes that’s an indicator of the potential for virtual online concerts.