Colatriano: Philadelphia filmmakers get the chance to overexpose the underexposed

Walking Fish Theatre gives equal opportunity for locals to showcase their work.

Chelsea Colatriano

Light Thief Productions, an independent film company, and B. Someday Productions, a primarily theatre-oriented company, have teamed up in and created a new program for artists – Films at the Fish.

Chelsea Colatriano

It is a new avenue for local filmmakers to showcase their talent at the Walking Fish Theatre located on Frankford Ave. Films at the Fish is dedicated to giving these filmmakers a voice and an audience.

“My goal in showcasing local talent is to create an avenue for that local talent to get paid reasonably for their work, and to get it out to the audience they want to see it,” said James Jackson, founder of Light Thief Productions and Resident Technical Director of Walking Fish Theatre.

“Many of our actors, directors, producers and crew flow through both the film and theatre community. It’s a much more tightly woven fabric than some people would have you believe,” said Jackson.

Filmmakers of the digital age tend to rely on YouTube and other social media avenues to distribute their content, but Films at the Fish hopes to provide a way to cut out the middleman and make sure that content creators are paid well for their work – Walking Fish and Light Thief want the proceeds of ticket sales to go directly to the content creators.

“Having learned a lot in a brief time about the content distribution system in the entertainment industry in general, and the film industry in specific, I saw a need for independent content producers to have a way to get paid for all the hard work they do.” Jackson said.

“Thousands of hours of content are produced by the independent film industry every month, and there are very few avenues for that content to reach viewers. What’s worse is that the avenues that do exist often are simply in place to take advantage of the content producers work and leverage it in to market share for someone who did nothing more than display the content,” he said.

Jackson wishes to help filmmakers in the area by bringing their films to a venue in which they can reach an audience effectively. On YouTube, one must sift through the hundreds of thousands of videos uploaded each day. It is competitive to gain an audience when broadcasting blindly. At Walking Fish, a film is being shown directly to a paying audience and money from the tickets goes straight into the filmmakers’ pocket.

Jackson also believes in giving every film a shot to be shown at the theater. The selection process is completely open. Anyone can submit a film to be screened through Walking Fish’s website with a possibility of being chosen to be screened. Every film has an equal shot of being chosen.

Once a month, one feature film is shown, along with numerous short films. This monthly rotating basis gives filmmakers plenty of exposure.

The inaugural feature film shown in June, “God’s Country, off Route 9”, directed by Steven Saylor, follows a young man who struggles between his life in his hometown and the relationship he leaves behind. This month, the feature being screened is “Bodies”, is also directed by Steven Saylor.

Jackson hopes that through Films at the Fish local independent filmmakers are given more publicity and an opportunity to engage with the Philadelphia community.

“From Light Thief’s perspective our ultimate goal with Films at The Fish is to create a program that we can use as an example for other presentation spaces and create a network of distribution venues that allow local filmmakers access to the same type of distribution they’d see if they had a Hollywood blockbuster or the latest art house piece that got picked up by Lion’s Gate.” Jackson said.

“By showcasing local Philadelphia filmmakers Light Thief hopes to show something to audiences that most of the industry already knows: Philadelphia is filled with talent, and things actually get produced here.” He said.

The Walking Fish Theatre is located at 2509 Frankford Ave., and opens Tuesday through Saturday at 7 p.m. and Sundays at 3 p.m. Tickets cost $7.

For more details, visit Walking Fish Theater’s website at

Chelsea Colatriano can be reached at

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