Atlantic Highlands’ popular festival of super-short films – FilmOneFest – celebrates its eighth year on July 16 with the addition of a third screening area; one that recreates a Jersey shore original: drive-in theater.
“This will be a unique, don’t-miss event,” said founder and technical director Robert O’Connor. “And admission is free! We invite viewers young and old alike to relive a classic American experience – really a New Jersey original – that has nearly disappeared.” The first U.S. drive-in opened in Camden in 1933. Once numbering in the thousands, fewer than 400 drive-ins remain, and only one in New Jersey.
This drive-in at the shore will feature a giant, elevated, high-definition LED screen so patrons can watch the evening’s program of short films from the comfort of their cars. Drinks, candy, and popcorn will be available to complete the retro feel. “It will be a totally new experience for an entire generation of kids and families,” said managing director Corinna Thuss. Event host Jon Crowley added, “Some of us do remember the fun of drive-in family movie night, and now, with our actual Jersey shore drive-in, young people can experience this tradition, as well. Kids will have a blast sitting in the backseat or on the hood of the car, maybe in pajamas, munching on snacks.” Mr. O’Connor said, “For one night only, visitors can feel like they’ve stepped into a time capsule, except with totally high-tech video.”
Ms. Thuss stated, “Of course, we will still have our traditional lawn seating. Guests arrive at our beautiful marina location by a giant digital screen, pick a comfortable viewing spot on the grass under the stars, and settle in with friends, family, food, and drink. The variety of films creates community and conversation.”
Growth of FilmOneFest
The FilmOneFest experience has grown in size and prestige to become the go-to event for short-format filmmakers – both youth and adult, amateur and professional – from around the world. “New Jersey hosts many film festivals, but none like FilmOneFest,” said Mr. O’Connor. FilmOneFest exclusively showcases films less than two minutes in length. “The super-short format is the key, because the challenge of telling a complete story in such a short time inspires great originality, creativity, and fantastic storytelling.” This year, FilmOneFest will present and award only the “best of the best” from over 300 submissions across all genres across the United States and more than 30 countries.
This year’s judges’ panel includes movie producer and manager Carol Cuddy (True Detective), television network executive and producer Jon Crowley (Impractical Jokers, Marriage Boot Camp), film critic Joan Ellis, film editor Susan Littenberg, sound editor Gedney Webb (The Hundred-Foot Journey), and film reviewer/historian Victor Zak.
At 5:00 p.m., FilmOneFest opens at the marina, with arts vendors, a stilt walker, face-painters, and clowns. The main screening stage will feature short films submitted by filmmakers under age 18, for “FilmYoungFest,” and multiple live bands, including Working Class Hussys, a New Jersey-based alternative rock band with a Southern flavor, popular local band Sam Sims, and singer/guitarist Regina Bonelli. At 9:00 p.m., screening begins of more than 40 of the best short films of 2016. Judges’ top picks will be announced, with $250 going to the highest scoring film, and $250 for the top FilmYoungFest entry. Perennial favorite People’s Choice award will be back, selected in real time by the audience.
Local restaurants and food trucks will offer a variety of options throughout the evening, including Thai, Memphis barbecue, and Mexican cuisine. Hot dogs, burgers, and sweet treats will also be available. Free popcorn and water is courtesy of Sickles Market. Seeking to outdo last year’s bicycle-powered smoothie blender, Whole Foods promises their tent will be a must-see, with food surprises from exciting vendors.
Planning Your Attendance
Drive-in spots are free, but limited, and advance registration is required. Mr. Crowley urges viewers to secure one of the 40 spots early at www.FilmOneFest.org/FilmOneFest-movie-drive-in. “Register right away, because no one’s seen a drive-in at the shore in eons. The buzz is already starting, so we’ll fill-up fast,” he said. Vehicles will be pre-assigned a space based on size, and may enter any time from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m. The main stage live bands will also be shown on the drive-in screen, so drive-in viewers won’t miss a thing.
Walk-in admission is free for the main screen/lawn; no pre-registration is required. Lawn chairs and blankets are permitted on the great lawn. There are limited $20 premium seating spots, where attendees will view the films on an exclusive screen from cushioned bleachers. For premium seating purchases, go to www.FilmOneFest.org and click the Attend tab.
Rain date is Sunday, July 17. If it rains on July 17, the event will be held indoors; the website will have details. FilmOneFest is 100% volunteer-produced, and proceeds support the Monmouth County Foodbank and the Atlantic Highlands Arts Council. FilmOneFest also supports the Atlantic Highlands Food Pantry, and will collect donations at the event.