A cable television channel in downtown Tampa is giving voice to the region’s filmmakers. Through its annual Film Showcase and Filmmaker Spotlight, the Tampa Bay Arts and Education Network provides opportunities for filmmakers to share their work on a broader scale.
“TBAE showcase runs yearly,” says Jessica Sturges, TBAE Director of Business Development. “June we’re closed for judges to complete review to make sure they meet our broadcasting standards and can play it on our cable channel.”
Filmmakers have 11 categories to choose from: animations, lectures, shorts, features, documentary, children’s programs, public service announcement, explainer/tutorial video, music video, culture video and television. Entries should not have nudity or strong adult language.
“It has to go through prescreening,” she says, “to make sure it meets those broadcasting standards.”
Winners will receive Laurel of Excellence Awards and have their work broadcast on Charter Spectrum Channel 635 and 636 and Frontier Communications Channels 32 and 34.
TBAE is working on a Netflix-like app that will expand its reach globally this fall.
Founded in 1987, TBAE broadcasts commercial-free arts, culture and educational content to some 1.3 million viewers in Hillsborough County. Its original content includes Characters of Ybor City, Circus Coming to Town, The Tampa Natives Show, Florida in the Space Age, and Filmmaker Spotlight featuring selected films from the Gasparilla International Film Festival.
It works with area colleges -- and even Blake High School -- to provide feedback and internships. “We work very closely with professors and teachers in the community to make sure they are producing what TV stations like us are looking for,” she explains.
Originally founded in the University of Tampa’s library, the nonprofit organization now encourages filmmakers from throughout the Tampa Bay/Central Florida region, including Sarasota, Bradenton and Orlando.
The network launched the area’s first film festival, The Independents’ Film Festival, in 1993, but had to discontinue it because of the cost, she says. Instead, they partner with the Gasparilla festival.
“Filmmaker Spotlight ... is the result of this unique collaboration,” she says. “The program offers the viewer a behind-the-scenes interview with the filmmaker, before the film and after.”
The showcase was started in 2014 at the request of filmmakers who wanted to have the opportunity to air their work. TBAE normally broadcasts the showcase in August and September, she says.
Submissions can be made online here. For more information, call 813-254-2253.