Among the Stars Reviewed

There was a very excited audience at Frank Theatres Rivertowne Stadium 12 in Conway, SC December 9, 2017. This wasn’t a typical day for moviegoers in the area. This was opening day for the anticipated short film, Among the Stars. Writer and Director, Jack VanderToll, stood in appreciation as he watched his vision unfold on the big screen with a very receptive and proud crowd.

The film surrounds Robert (played by Ethan Williams), an innocent young man who barely evades a figure who is ruthlessly hunting him. His plight hasn’t gone unnoticed by supernatural beings Michael and Magnus, who are both fighting to either save or doom Robert’s soul. Robert seeks help from his friend Felicia as they are caught in the cross hairs of a timeless battle between good and evil.

The film begins beautifully as Robert and Felicia enjoy a quiet night together but then are abruptly interrupted by a figure who is called upon by Magnus to deliver them to his master. Robert and Felicia aren’t the only ones in danger. Michael has been lured into Magnus’s trap in his effort to save them. The fates of both mortal and supernatural hang in the balance on Earth and among the stars.

Jack VanderToll spoke on what inspired the film, “One of my favorite film themes is the theological struggle between good and evil. I had the idea to anthropomorphize these themes into characters. Good and evil are forever at war… one ultimately tries to save, the other seeks to destroy. Once that structure was found, the story and the conflict quickly materialized.”

Equipped with a Sony NXCAM NEX-FS700 and a Panasonic AG-AF105A, Michelle Elise Harding did a wonderful job as the Director of Photography and Editor of this film. When asked about how long it took to film, Michelle said, “We spent eight days filming over the course of five months due to weather delays and script revisions.” As it is with many films, there can be many setbacks as well as cool accidental visuals that can really add to the film. “The cricket that is seen in the trailer and opening scene of the film was not scripted. It landed on Director Jack VanderToll’s head and wouldn’t fly away, so it was incorporated into the final film.” (Michelle) The actors even did their own stunts choreographed by Christian Brunetti, who also played Magnus.

The goal for the film is to continue having as many new eyes on it as possible riding the festival circuit and hope for positive reception. After having a successful premiere on the coast, the film traveled to the first meeting of the year for Carolina Film Network in January. It was also a great representation of the Myrtle Beach Film Community at this event highlighting collaboration over competition. This was a great start for the film as the reception for the film was more than welcomed with warm eyes, but it also was praised for its attention to biblical reference and originality.

When asked what he wants people to take away from seeing the film, Jack stated, “I am very pleased with the story we were able to tell, and I feel the themes to my film is universal… our search for purpose, friends and heroes. These are journeys everyone in life takes in some form. After someone sees it, if they are able to consider they are never alone as they may think, especially when they look up at a starry, night sky, I’ll mark that as a success.”

Among the Stars is more than just another great South Carolina originated film. It serves as an opportunity for growth in the industry, a production of quality and perseverance, and a dream-come- true for its creators. We at Carolina Film Network recommend following this film on Facebook and Instagram @amongthestarsmovie for more screening information as well as watching its flourishment. Congratulations on a job well done!

By Andrew Gajadhar


Film Friday – The Theta Girl Review

The results are in, and The Theta Girl has hit every mark with flying colors! Bradley Gibson of Film Threat Magazine is calling it “… a philosophical film with talented actors, a solid script, good cinematography and sound” after its “Friday the 13th” premier in October at Atlanta’s Y’allywood film festival. Rodney Welch of Free Times magazine says it’s “… one gory, grungy, sleazy, druggy, porny, funny, nutty and oddly engaging movie.” With the reviews pouring in like wildfire, this film has successfully breathed new life into independent film.

How do you make a feature film while maintaining quality and integrity, all while on a shoestring budget? Better yet, how can it be possible under $14,000? Well, put first-time Director Christopher Bickel and Writer David Axe together and you got yourself a recipe for opulence. You can’t put a price tag on personifying a dream. And for this, it is imperative to have a better understanding of the reality in the business aspect of this industry. There are many independent filmmakers that dream of producing a feature-length film but either never do or they compromise quality because of budget. There are so many elements to the equation that have to be considered, payroll, locations, permits, administrative expenses, equipment, hard/software, post-production, marketing/promoting, festival/premiere expenses and much more. I’m not even going to go into cast and crew accommodations. I mean, have you ever tried to work an actor without feeding or pampering them to a certain extent? Good luck getting a stellar performance out of that one. So, with this said, believe us when we tell you that what was accomplished with The Theta Girl is nothing short of amazing.

Looking at the technical aspects of the film, The Theta Girl beautifully establishes the six key components of a good film, storytelling, character, acting, cinematography, sound, and scoring.

Writing a script is not the same as writing a book. Although they both have specified concepts of plot, conflict, dialog, and subtext/underlying messaging, the difference is the ability to effectively tell a story in a limited amount of time to a much broader audience cinematically. The Theta Girl is centered around a couple of days in adventure paradise as a drug dealer, Gayce (Victoria Elizabeth Donofrio), peregrinates all over town with her colleague Derek (Darelle D. Dove) trying to avenge the death of her close friend and stop the ongoing brutal murders by Brother Marcus (Shane Silman) and his religious band of brothers who’ve deemed themselves “Christ’s executioners” after accidentally ingesting Theta from a drink given to them. “Sex, drugs, and rock-n-roll” is an understatement when describing how raw this story is told. With a revamped punk image, realistic nudity tastefully placed in a drug-inhibited social environment, a battle-of-the-bands atmosphere, and plenty of blood and gore, this film is intrinsic to a mature audience. Even though the film is not yet rated, no one under the age of 17 is permitted. Humorously, yet also proud, it has become a benchmark for at least one or more people to walk out of the theater while watching the film. Bickel states, “If at least one person walks out, then we know we’ve at least affected someone with the film.”

The characters are strategically placed without error. There aren’t any excess of main characters, there’s a clear antagonist, and there’s a great balance of action and engagement. “We wanted to stick to a standard of something happening at least every five minutes so we wouldn’t lose the audience,” Bickel states. Each character had a specific personality and look that remained consistent and kept it quite natural.

Independent films are notorious for mediocre to subpar acting. It’s not necessarily a bad thing. It’s just that the majority of independent films employ whomever they can get to do the work, which usually is someone fairly new to the industry or someone that has not yet crossed over into the professional realm of acting. There are those rare exceptions, however, where you have a great director who is coupled with undiscovered magnificent talent. The Theta Girl is definitely one of these rare occasions. The acting matches the characters flawlessly, and the audience will not be disappointed with how well the dialog is delivered and not recited. The relationships of the characters denote chemistry interchangeably throughout the film, and the story gracefully flows as a result.

The cinematography is second to none. This film also shows how you don’t need a $40,000 camera to make cinematic gold. Equipped with a Canon EOS 80D, a DJI Osmo, and a GoPro, Bickel combined his resources and edited a film that coincides with the feel of this perfect picture. The lighting is consistent with the scenes, and continuity is maintained throughout. Knowing the equipment used to make this film only makes it that much better in the reality of it all.

Sound and scoring can literally make or break a film. It can have the best of everything, but if it has horrible sound or if the scoring conflicts with what’s taking place, then kiss circumspection goodbye. The audience will be completely drawn away and will be immediately encouraged to ask, “Why?” Luckily enough, this would have never been a problem with The Theta Girl given Bickel’s background in music and punk. The music adds to the texture of the film and keeps the audience on the edge of their seats as the story unfolds.

Overall, The Theta Girl is a must-see that is well deserving of its place in cinematic history, especially for South Carolina. It is edgy, heroic, and all things punk. Recently the overall Jury Award winner of South Carolina Underground Film Festival, we can look forward to seeing great accomplishments of Christopher Bickel and The Theta Girl. Our hats are off to this successful film, and I give it a solid 10 out of 10.


Registration for The Ghoulish Oktoberfest is open winner will receive $125.00.

The Ghoulish Oktoberfest is a fall themed film festival geared to bringing local South Carolina filmmakers together in order to encourage and promote the growth of film in South Carolina.

Selected filmmakers will be given a genre for their film: comedy, drama, horror, sci-fi, fantasy, etc. and filmmakers MUST set their film during the fall season.

Completed films can be no longer then ten minutes, including the end credits.

Filmmakers MUST be a resident of South Carolina and must provide previous links to their work upon registration.

There is no entry free for participating filmmakers. WINNER RECEIVES $125.O0. 

Register here


Registration is opened through Friday, October 6th.

Kick off event will take place Thursday, October 12th.

Films must be submitted to Carolina Film Network on Wednesday, October 25th

The Ghoulish Oktoberfest Screening will be held on Saturday, October 28th.

Carolina Film Network’s celebrates one year in operation

On Saturday, June 17 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., filmmakers from across the Carolinas will gather at Tapp’s Art Center for the Carolina Film Network’s First Year Anniversary. This event will showcase three films produced by local filmmakers and will include guest speaker Dan Rogers from the South Carolina Film Commission.

Films screening include The Wrong Girl by Dean Ferreira, Glass by Christian Brunetti, and Cartoonish by Ken Cohen. All three films are up for the audience choice award, the winner will screen again during the second quarterly meeting.

Attending the meeting as guest speaker is Dan Rogers from the South Carolina Film Commission. Rogers will be discussing resources South Carolina filmmakers can utilize such as the Indie Grants program, finding the perfect location for your film, and how to register with SCFC’s registry.

Dan Rogers from the South Carolina Film Commission lead the conversation last night discussing the role the SC Film Commission plays with bringing film to South Carolina.

Carolina Film Network is a non-profit organization that promotes local film in the Carolinas. It also serves as a link between entrepreneurs and industry professionals to stimulate economic growth. Carolina Film Network meets once a month in collaboration with Tapp’s Art Center.

Three films, a casting director, and New York based producer filming in Columbia will be in attendance at Carolina Film Network’s First Quarterly Meeting

COLUMBIA, SOUTH CAROLINA – On Tuesday, April 25th from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., filmmakers from across the Carolinas will gather at Tapp’s Art Center for the Carolina Film Network’s First Quarterly Meeting. This event will showcase three films produced by local filmmakers and will include casting director Tara Lynn Marcelle of E. Marcelle Casting, Inc., as guest speaker.

Films screening include horror film Debbie Lynn directed by Sean B. Krumbholz, Our Star Trek: The Fifty Year Mission directed by Christopher Tevebaugh and Spark directed by Daniel Merlin Miller submitted by the director of photography Michelle Elise Harding. All three films have screened at previous meetings, winning the audience choice award. They will once again compete for the audience choice award, the winner’s film will then progress to Carolina Film Network’s First Annual Film Festival.

Among the guest visiting, will be casting director Tara Lynn Marcelle of E. Marcelle Casting, Inc., who will be discussing the casting process along with the red flags creatives should look for in order to avoid being taken advantage. Marcelle is currently the head casting director for Sid Roth’s, It’s Supernatural. New York based producer and cinematographer Jordan Battiste will also be in attendance. He is currently filming, What Matters, a feature length drama in Columbia, S.C.

Carolina Film Network is a non-profit organization that promotes local film in the Carolinas. It also serves as a link between entrepreneurs and industry professionals to stimulate economic growth. Carolina Film Network meets once a month in collaboration with Tapp’s Art Center. For more information go to

Admission to event is $5 at the door or online. To preorder tickets please click here.

A Night of Film with Carolina Film Network – Tuesday, Feb. 28th at 7pm

Hey folks, sorry for the delay! It’s been a busy month prepping. Tuesday, Feb. 28th will kick off “A Night of Film with Carolina Film Network”. We will screen four films then open the floor to the local filmmakers in attendance for a pitch session.

Because this will be such a big night doors will open promptly at 7 and screenings will begin at 7:10!

After the film screenings the audience will be given the choice to vote for audience choice award. The winner will then advance to quarterly round.

If you have submitted and don’t see your film as a selection please do not be discouraged. There were so many amazing submissions and we are currently working to email each and every one of you in regards to your film!



Directed by: Daniel Miller

Produced By: Michelle Elise Harding

Starring: Tom Althoff and Mackenzie Leigh Barmen

Spark is a short film following an award-winning, alcoholic writer on his search for inspiration after a tragic event threw his life into turmoil. The storyline was conceived when director Daniel Merlin Miller felt no control over his life. He was attracted to the notion of lead character, Wayne, and the underlying theme of coping mechanisms in times of distress. Like Wayne, he threw himself into his work in an attempt to maintain some type of consistency. We know Spark is a story that can speak to a lot of people.

Time: 19:51

Zoey Gray

Directed by: Pasha Gray

Starring: Alexandra Petkus, Stepanie Mae Fausto, Joseph Jefferson

“Wait… Did you see it coming?” ‘Zoey Gray’ is a sci-fi comedy focused around ‘Zoey’s’ recent breakup. While venting with her Bestie, she’s convinced to go out with a new look. After deciding to stay in things start to take a transcendental turn.

Time: 16:38


Directed by: Tari K. Robinson

Starring: Stephanie Casebier, Steven Michael Quinn, Jr. Brandie Moore, Enrico Ravenna, Aimee Dunn, Alex Ling and Marquita Owens Robinson

Tiffany Jamison and Jessica Todd have a special bond, one that wreaks havoc on those that dare cross them.

Time: 13:34

Times Like Dying

Directed by: Evan Vetter

Starring: Jim Cody Williams, Anthony Reynolds, Cullen Moss, Robert Trevelier, Myke Holmes, Fidias Reyes

Exhausted and on the run from a desperate bank robbery, a mangy gang finds shelter at the small farmhouse of a frail and sickly US Marshal. The truth of their exploits comes to light as Miss Ledbetter, the Marshal’s nursemaid, overhears their fireside conversation. She is taken hostage by the menacing Lonzell Dixon, who surprises her at gunpoint. Tensions escalate when Lonzell’s greed, lust, and struggle for power overtake him and his family.

Time: 22:05

Tickets to event are $5, which goes to paying for the space provided by Tapp’s Art Center.

Carolina Film Network kicks off the New Year Tonight! Here’s what to expect.

An exciting evening has been planned to kick off the New Year and welcome the return of the Carolina Film Network Monthly Meetings. Beginning at 7 p.m., will be the screenings of three films from North and South Carolina filmmakers.

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After Yesterday directed by Andrew Brewster tells the story of Harris Tray as he struggles to connect with his granddaughter amidst loss and early signs of dementia.

WHORL directed by Ebony Wilson tells the story of a couple who’s argument spirals out of control into a loop of repeating events when they stumble across the body of a dead man.

Our Star Trek: The Fifty Year Mission directed by Christopher Tevebaugh is a documentary on the exploration of Gene Roddenberry’s Star Trek vision of humanity. After 50 years of Star Trek, how far has humanity come and how much further can we go?

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Leon Dunn and Fred De La Garza will be joining the Carolina Film Network team leading the discussion on what a production company is, how to successfully operate a production company, their accomplishments, and future projects produced at Carolina Filmworks. They will also discuss the difference between a production company and a one-man producer operating under the name of a production company.

This event will be held at Tapp’s Arts Center. Admission cost will be $5 to cover space provided.

RSVP to event here.



Carolina Film Network Monthly Meetings Return Tuesday, January 31st

Carolina Film Network’s monthly meetings return Tuesday, January 31st opening up a bright new year of film here in the Carolinas. Joining us as guest speakers are Carolina Filmworks owners and operators Leon Dunn and Fred De La Garza. Both Dunn and De La Garza will lead the discussion on what a production company is, how to successfully operate a production company, their accomplishments, and future projects produced at Carolina Filmworks. They will also discuss the difference between a production company and a one-man producer operating under the name of a production company.

Carolina Filmworks has produced films worldwide, including the more recent Sinners and Saints starring Sean Patrick Flanery and Daylight’s End starring Lance Henriksen. Carolina Filmworks operates out of Charlotte, North Carolina.

As we discussed at the November Meeting, January will kick off the start of the First Annual Carolina Film Network Film Festival. As per usual, the meeting will begin by screening three to four films. Afterwards the audience will vote on their favorite film for the Audience Choice Award.

The Audience Choice Winners from each month will then screen at the quarterly meeting. Where again it will compete for the Audience Choice Award for the quarter. The winner of the Quarterly Audience Choice Award will then screen in December at the 1st Annual Carolina Film Network Film Festival.

Quarter 1 – January – April

Quarter 2 – May – August

Quarter 3 – September – November

1st Annual Carolina Film Network Film Festival – TBA


Rules and Regulations

  • Films that have screened at previous meetings are eligible to rescreen to compete in the festival competition.
  • While we only screen short films at the meetings we allow for feature films to be submitted for the December film festival.
  • Films must be made from 2014 – Forward.


To submit your film for screening please visit the submission page found above or click here.

To find out more information about Carolina Filmworks please visit their official website found here.

Carolina Film Network – January Meeting
Tuesday, January 31st
Tapp’s Art Center
7pm – 9pm

Carolina Film Network to premiere Silas James Rowland’s ‘Dudeman’

Dudeman a short film directed by Silas James Rowland will premiere during Carolina Film Network’s November Meeting tomorrow at Tapp’s Art Center. The film, which also stars Rowland is set in 1977 and follows, Dudeman Pressley, a guy who has just been robbed of his weed and money and is running out of time before his supplier George takes out the trash.


When asked what the audience can expect Rowland replied, “Dudeman is a different experience from anything I’ve done. It’s a lot more open world. Very dialogue and character driven.” Rowland also stated, “Working with a diversity of talent from those inexperience to those who show excellence in theatre really tested my abilities as a director and if anything knocked me on my butt. It was worth it. I learned a lot. And I have to say this is my favorite thing I’ve done thus far.”

Rowland started making movies when he was in 8th grade attempting to bring alternate egos to life on camera. He has produced 7 short films, over 40 skits, and is currently working on a feature film titled, Mr. Secret Agent Guy.

Carolina Film Network’s November Meeting will take place at Tapp’s Art Center from 7pm – 9pm. Bait, Teenage Caligula, and The Art House will also screen at the meeting. Followed by guest speaker Dr. Carmen Maye from the University of South Carolina who will discuss Copyright Law.


The Right to Strike – Short Film Indiegogo Campaign Launch

The Right to Strike brought to us all by writer/director Ashley Shanea launches Indiegogo Campaign for the independent production.

This short film is centered around an SC State University couple that met during the civil rights movement and fought together for equal rights. Although this is  a fictional story, it is based on true events that took place such as the Orangeburg Massacre.

Shanea states on her official indiegogo campaign for the film, “As a 2015 graduate of SC State, this project is important to me because my Alma mater and the city of Orangeburg has a rich history that many are not aware of. I wanted to use my passion for film to reenact events in  history in a way that will entertain, educate, and inspire others. Another goal is to apply to film festivals and contests all over the United States.”

Now why is raising money important for independent productions? Because funds will contribute to a building rental, wardrobe, paying cast/crew, and building rentals fees for public screenings!

To help contribute to the film please visit Ashley’s Indiegogo Campaign by clicking here or the below image.