Tinseltown in the Spa City

Arkansas Shorts Film Festival Brings Hollywood to Arkansas

ByKD REEP| Photography by JEFF FULLER-FREEMAN | Shot on Location at LOW KEY ARTS

Hot Springs is more than 1,600 miles from Hollywood, but in January, Tinseltown takes up residence in the Spa City. Presented by Low Key Arts, Arkansas Shorts is a three-day film festival. Bill Solleder and Shea Childs established Low Key Arts in 2005 with the purpose of producing Valley of the Vapors Independent Music Festival. Today, Low Key Arts connects people and inspires creativity by offering opportunities to experience musical, cinematic and artistic innovators from around the world. Low Key Arts Program Director Jen Gerber shares her talents and helps organize Arkansas Shorts.

A native of Hot Springs, Jen notes she completed graduate school with plans to share stories about the Natural State and fellow Arkansans. “I’ve been here ever since.” She continues to surround herself with potential. “Whether it’s been making my own work or being part of productions here in the state, I’ve been so fortunate to be in Arkansas because it actually has a great
film scene.”

Jen remembers her first experience on a film set as pivotal to her career because she immediately sensed it was what she was meant to do.  At that time, filmmaking wasn’t accessible in Arkansas. “I didn’t even think about becoming a filmmaker. I’d always been a lover of the arts and grew up studying theater, acting, dance and all these other forms of collaborative art, and I was on my way to becoming a theater major.” She studied in Chicago and Columbia University in New York. “That’s where film found me.”

She heard about Arkansas Shorts while in film school, and when Jen came back to Hot Springs to work on her thesis film, she became involved with the organization. “I was filming and a lot of people said, ‘Hey, there’s this festival down the road, and some of our films are showing.’” She joined Low Key Arts in 2015. “I’ve worked with Bill on Arkansas Shorts
ever since.”

Next month, Arkansas Shorts will feature 35 films that include work from the Low Key Arts Inception to Projection Program as well as films made by national and international filmmakers. She notes there are also workshops, lectures and parties. The festival continues to expand programming because the quality of many submissions is so good. “We want to make room for all filmmakers, and we showcase some of the best short films that were made last year from all around the world. There are some really high-profile films, too. For instance, we have some that won Sundance and have played at Tribeca, even Cannes. We invite those filmmakers to be part of our community here in Arkansas.”

Inviting Arkansas

Subscribe to our Newsletter

Stay up-to-date on our latest news!