The Welling Films team attended Worldfest, the Houston International Film Festival this week and left with a staggering twelve Remi Awards. The 50th Worldfest was no less of a grand production than would be expected, and it was an exciting week for all involved.
Here's how it went for us.
We'd like to thank our cast and crew. Please see our previous posts on their invaluable involvement:
• Opening Sunday screening April 23, 2017
Michelle Simmons-Welling (right) hugs Preslee Bishop after an emotional screening.
Our films were presented at two separate screenings to enthusiastic crowds. The first took place Sunday, April 23, 2017 at the AMC Studio 30 on Dunvale Rd., in Houston, TX.
Screen 17 had hundreds of eyes glued to it as festival founder Hunter Todd introduced the films, and Welling Films' 2016/17 productions started to roll on state of the art DCP (digital cinema package).
Shawn Welling (center) stands with cast of "Strange Bird" at AMC to open WorldFest.
After the screening, Shawn spoke from the heart about his inspirations for his films, and thanked his cast and creative team, many of whom were in attendance.
Also touching was Shawn's tribute to his father, who gave Shawn the ideas for two of his featured films. "Strange Bird" and "If I Could Bark" both drew inspiration from Mr. Welling, who was in attendance Sunday night.
"My father dreams in color, although his eyesight is failing. What a great idea for a movie!" Shawn explained of "Strange Bird," going on to explain that his father used to bark to try to communicate with his childhood dog, Stoli.
(video) Cast, crew, and theater-goers react to the opening night premiere of "Strange Bird."
Shawn's wife, Michelle Simmons-Welling, and lifelong friend and actor Jen Barbeito, (above) are instrumental in the success of Welling Films.
"[Shawn's] father used to bark to communicate with his white dog, Stoli. [Shawn] had to make that into a movie."
• Seminar "Cut to the Dog" Thursday April 27, 2017
Shawn Welling engages with his audience at the "Cut to the Dog" lecture.
Shawn Welling also gave a very successful seminar on his unique brand of filmmaking, entitled "Cut to the Dog." Shawn described the philosophy he espouses of switching his shot to one of his canine companions when the shot gets dull. He also went into the technical aspects of shooting utilizing a drone-mounted camera.
Actor and friend of Welling Films, Nick Nicholson, also gave a well-attended seminar, during which he described Welling Films as "one of Houston's largest and most successful production houses."
• US-China Film Summit April 28, 2017
Shawn (farthest left) participates in a panel on Chinese/US film partnership.
The following day Shawn was Honored to be chosen as an "Ambassador to Panorama China" and be one of the primary speakers at the US-China Film Summit in partnership with WorldFest Houston with leaders from Hollywood and the Chinese film industry.
The summit focused on themes such as U.S-China film co-production, large intellectual property, virtual reality, the future of science fiction in film, movie financing, and immigration.
• Worldfest Awards Gala April 29, 2017
If I Could Bark wins the gold Remi Award.
As mentioned, the Welling Films team attended Worldfest, the Houston International Film Festival this week, and left with an astonishing twelve Remi Awards. Hunter Todd was on hand to award us these fantastic awards.
Welling Films' 2017 Remi Awards, awarded April 29, 2017
Houston Broadcast Film Critics Awards
-Strange Bird - Best Young Actress - Preslee Bishop
Platinum Remi Awards
-Kiss Cook Bang Bang - Short Subject Production Awards - Comedy - Dark/Black
-Kreep - Music Video Production Awards - Rock/R&R
-Sarah & Kole Wedding - Film and Video Production Awards - Wedding Videos
Gold Remi Awards
-If I Could Bark - Short Subject Production Awards - Dramatic - Adaptation
-Strange Bird - TV/Cable/Web Production Awards - Movie Trailers
-WellingFilms.com - New Media Productions Awards - Websites
Silver Remi Awards
-If I Could Bark - TV/Cable/Web Production Awards - Movie Trailers
-Love for All Seasons - TV/Cable/Web Production Awards - Movie Trailers
-The Last Ride - Short Subject Production Awards - Dramatic - Adaptation
Bronze Remi Awards
-The Last Astronaut - Screenplay Awards - Teleplays
-Strange Bird - Production Awards - Suspense/Thriller
"WorldFest-Houston is the only film festival in the world with ten major competition categories, not just Shorts and Features like most festivals. In addition, we have more than 200 sub-categories, so a small Indie documentary does not have to compete with a National Geographic Special... The Remi Award is named after Frederic Remington, who’s brilliant sculptures and paintings captured the spirit of Texas and the West." [www.worldfest.org]
(L-R) Katia Hadjiyska, Shawn Welling, Preslee Bishop, and Michelle Simmons-Welling levitate with Welling Films' twelve 2017 Remi Awards.
The team was thrilled to be in attendance at the banquet, a yearly tradition for the festival and for Welling Films. The acting honor for Preslee Bishop was a pleasant but well-deserved surprise, as the Houston Broadcast Film Critics, which issues the young actor award, does not announce nominations.
This is the second year in a row that a Welling Films star has won this award for one of our long-form short films, and we couldn't be prouder of this accomplishment, or of these young ladies' achievements.
Preslee Bishop receives her best young actress award from "Strange Bird" costar Nick Nicholson.
"Houston Broadcast Film Critics member Nick Nicholson presented Preslee Bishop with the award for best young actress for 'Strange Bird'."
A touching moment also came when Nick Nicholson, a member of the Houston Broadcast Film Critics, presented Preslee Bishop with her award. Nick portrayed Agent Tasker in "Strange Bird."
Preslee Bishop (center) shores up a team of young Planet Funk Academy dancers.
The Planet Funk dance also crew made an electrifying appearance at the Worldfest banquet, to great acclaim and thunderous applause. The Planet Funk appearance at the awards banquet is also an annual tradition. The dancers included talent from (L-R) Hannah Moulder, Preslee Bishop, Skye Todaro, Vita Maida, and Savannah Little.
Shawn Welling, founder of Welling Films, is also the founder of Planet Funk Dance Academy, and there is no small degree of cross-pollination between the two studios. The 2017 Worldfest team featured Preslee Bishop and Skye Todaro, both of whom appeared in Welling Films' filmed entries to Worldfest.
(video) Closing night, Welling Films' interviewed cast and crew on their thoughts on the Welling Films productions that had screened.
The next day was closing night. Both for the 50th annual Worldfest - Houston International Film Festival, and for the Welling Films crew. Cast and crew mingled with moviegoers again, and a different mix of creatives came to see the films.
Don Miller joined the Welling Films crew at the Worldfest banquet. Here he poses with the Welling Films awards.
Don Miller, star and executive producer of Welling Films productions "The Last Ride" and "If I Could Bark," even walked the red carpet. It was a great privilege to have him with us, especially since he came all the way from New England to be at the screening. With characteristic humility and joy, he was sure to tell us all how grateful he was for the opportunity. Of course, we were grateful for his time and talent.
Monika Leigh, alumna of hit TV singing competition "The Voice," also came to see herself on the big screen in "Kreep," a platinum Remi Award winning film. On a command performance from her director, she skillfully sang a rousing, innovative rendition of Carole King's funk/blues standard "Some Kind of Wonderful," which lived up to the song's title completely.
(video) Preslee Bishop, with the cast of Welling Films' 2017 submissions, thanks the crowd.
Closing night, Welling Films' award-winning actor for "Strange Bird," Preslee Bishop, gave a short acceptance speech, graciously thanking director Shawn Welling for setting her on the path of acting, describing him as "the root of why [she] started to act."
Preslee was almost overcome with emotion, and the whole audience seemed touched by the teenaged talent's tears. After seeing her powerful performance, it would have been hard not to be.
(Video) "Strange Bird" teaser trailer
We'd like to thank everyone who made 2016 a banner year for Welling Films. We certainly hope 2017 will continue as it has begun.
"[Welling Films is] one of Houston's largest and most successful production houses."
Shawn Welling introduces his films to the audience, April 23, 2017.