Now is not the time to be camera shy.
The Fort Myers Beach Film Festival will play host to 65 filmmakers, including writers, actors, actresses, producers, directors and distributors, during a course of a five-day event that will begin with an opening night sunset cruise aboard the Estero Bay Express II and finish with an awards ceremony.
In between, one can enjoy a ribbon cutting ceremony, view roughly 35 independent film, short film packages and documentaries, see a movie on the beachfront, attend a workshop and take in a children's film festival.
The seventh Beach Film Fest experienced resurgence last year after a seven-year hiatus. Momentum from the 2012 festival has bridged the gap.
"We have volunteers that are jumping out of their seats to help out," said Event Chairman Georgia Reinmuth. "We've been striving to make it an island-wide event again. I think the increase in the numbers of films we received this year from last year has really showed the interest that Fort Myers Beach is a stop on the circuit."
Reports show a 40 percent increase in film submissions.
"That's very important to us because the idea of this whole thing is to get distributors here to help advance the filmmakers and their films," said Reinmuth.
The fun begins with a sold-out sunset cruise Wednesday evening from Fish Tale Marina to Nervous Nellies Crazy Waterfront Eatery. Those wishing to contribute to the opening welcome party/fundraiser can show up at the establishment at the end of Old San Carlos Boulevard, pay $15, chow down on some hors d'oeuvres and drink at a cash bar.
On Thursday, start your afternoon at the ribbon cutting that will take place at 2 p.m. at Beach Theater at 6425 Estero Blvd. Films will begin rolling at 3 p.m. with NY Times best-selling author-turned-director Randy Wayne White's "The Gift of the Game" and director Michael Arth's "Out of the Woods: Life and Death in Dirty Dave's Homeless Camp."
Beach Theater will be showing two simultaneous film fest movies at three different time slots on Thursday, Friday and Saturday and three more films on Sunday. Each of the two viewing rooms holds a capacity of 46 people. Cost is $5 per film or short film package.
On Friday, besides the regular schedule of movies, check out the free Movie on the Beach at Holiday Inn's beachfront. "Pirates Band of Misfits" begins at 9 p.m.
On Saturday, a filmmaking workshop entitled, "From Inception to Distribution," will be held at Junkanoo's on the Beach at 3040 Estero Blvd. from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. For a $30 ticket, one can rub elbows with guest speaker filmmakers and learn about becoming an independent filmmaker. The workshop will educate film fans about the process of getting a film produced and shown on screen to audiences.
"For the workshop, we have six filmmakers and a representative from Screen Actors Guild," said Elizabeth D'Onofrio, the FMB Film Fest Board's artistic director. Ruth Paul is that representative from Miami. Actor Eric Roberts (King of the Gypsies, Runaway Train, Heroes) also confirmed to attend. He is the brother of well-known actress Julia Roberts.
According to D'Onofio, possibly as soon as next year, if a film wins at the Beach Film Festival, one could conceivably submit their film to the Academy Awards for best short film and documentary. The process involves filling out grant applications.
"We are trying to make this a must stop on the film fest circuit," said Reinmuth.
Besides Reinmuth and D'Onofrio, the rest of the four-member board involves Janeen Paulauskis, the executive director, and Laurie Nienhaus, the volunteer director.
Saturday's movie lineup at Beach Theater features a family-friendly array, such as a series of short films like "Sugar and Spice," "Color Me Invisible," "The Girl with the Red Balloon" and "Forever Friends" documentary.
Also on Saturday, head down to Bay Oaks Recreational Campus for a children's film festival, hosted by the Town Parks & Recreation Department. Families can enjoy "Wreck It Ralph" at 5:30 p.m. and "The Avengers" at 8 p.m.
Then on Sunday, local movies will be viewed at 3 p.m. Afterwards, join the whole crew dockside at Fish Tale Marina at 7225 Estero Blvd. for the awards ceremony at 4:30 p.m. The final announcement ceremony will present awards to each winning category in creative independent filmmaking. The feature film, "Between Us," plays at 6 p.m.
Actress Jo Marie Payton, who starred in "Perfect Strangers" and "Family Matters" in the 1980s and 1990s, will help introduce films. She is regarded as the film ambassador for 2013.
Two award-winners from last year are back with films. Chad Gurdgiel, a 2012 winning filmmaker, and Sal Richards, a 2012 winning actor, return.
To see the film lineup, check on packages deals, gather more information on events, or gain some insight from last year's guests, go to www.fmbfilmfest.com or call 314-9234.
Two movies in review
n "Posey" - Among a collection of short films on Friday, April 26, at 7 p.m. is "Posey." Directed by Billy DaMota and starring Sally Kirkland, Ray Wise, Jason Stuart and Erica Rhodes, "Posey" is the story of Linda Flemming, played by Erica Rhodes (A Prairie Home Companion, Killer Eye, Plague Town) who must make the heartbreaking decision to take her grandmother, Posey (Academy Award nominee and Golden Globe Winner Sally Kirkland), to an assisted care facility.
Posey suffers from the beginning stages of Alzheimer's Disease and, in a desperate move to avoid the inevitable, she escapes. While her loved ones desperately search for her, Posey finds herself the star of a Bollywood movie. Is this the real thing...or is it fantasy?
n "Between Us" - The feature film "Between Us" stars Julia Stiles, Taye Diggs, Melissa George, and David Harbour. It screens twice during the festival, once on Friday, April 26, at 7 p.m. and again on Sunday night April 28, at 6 p.m.
In this darkly comedic drama, two couples reunite over the course of two incendiary evenings where anything can happen. Grace and Carlo are a newly married New York couple who visit their old friends, Sharyl and Joel, in their huge Midwestern home. But despite their wealth, the hosts are in a violently destructive marriage. Two years later, the couples reunite in New York, but now the tables are turned as the young couple struggles with their marriage, parenthood and financial woes, only to discover that their old friends are even more successful and much happier than they were before.