Rolling out the red carpet in Durham Region

The Durham Region Film Festival runs from Oct. 17-20.

For four days this week, students have had the opportunity to get first-hand experience in the film industry.

The 4th annual Durham Regional International Film Festival (DRIFF) is underway with screenings, filmmaking demonstrations and a movie-making experience at Docville’s Wild West Movie Set near Newcastle.

DRIFF kicked off the the event with a feature documentary, What is democracy?, that looked at the history of democracy and civil rights.

On Saturday, people can go behind the scenes to make a movie in a day with Durham College’s School of Media, Art and Design at Docville, an old Western movie set.

Greg Murphy is the dean of the School of Media, Art, and Design at Durham College, and involved with DRIFF. He designed the movie in a day event to give the public insight into how movies are made.

“We got maybe 20 students, 10 staff and faculty and we show the public how movies are made,” he says, “and we make a movie in about four hours just to show them what that looks like.”

He says the “little twist” is that they get the public involved, whether it’s holding a camera or doing lighting or acting in the film.

He says only one movie is shot there each year as part of DRIFF.

“It’s a five minute cowboy movie. I get students to write the scripts and they say “Who do we want?” and they’re thinking character development and there are all sorts of film principles,” he says.

Murphy says he asks for a script that “seems appropriate for nine-year-old’s birthday party.”

He likes westerns himself. When he wrote the first script, he was inspired by well-known movies such as Hang ’em High and A Fistful of Dollars.

“You know all these spaghetti westerns and, of course, there are some that are more contemporary like Django Unchained, Unforgiven, and True Grit,” he says.

Docville is on the northern fringe of Newcastle. Steve ‘Doc’ Holliday is the owner of the property.

He bought the property in 1985 but the place needed some improvements. As he improved the property, it became well known. Film people started asking to use it as a movie set, according to Murphy. He says Docville became a go-to place for movies and videos.

The goal of the Docville event, according to Murphy, is to continue to show people how to make movies.

He says he’s involved in DRIFF because it helps him create opportunities to educate students outside the classroom.

“It helps give me insight into the film industry it helps me to make connection for the staff, the faculty and the students within the growing film industry in the Durham Region,” he says. “So, it’s actually in a way it makes my job easier.”

DRIFF wraps up the weekend with a horror feature Lifechanger that is set to screen at Durham College with Halloween just around the corner.