The Second Annual PlayGround Film Festival bears the fruit of the cross-pollination of Bay filmmakers and playwrights. A film festival with its roots in play writing, the festival showcases the evolutionary process from seed to stage to screen. PlayGround provides creative nurturance and collaboration from inception through development. But the process is also one of elimination. The six films in the film festival are the result of natural selection.
Each of films in the festival -- which runs through May 25 -- started life as a short play developed and produced by PlayGround, the Berkeley-based theater company dedicated to nurturing new playwrights. The festival's six short films were adapted from plays previously selected for the Best of PlayGround theater showcase. Each of these plays started life in PlayGround's Monday Night reading series. And even before this, each script started life as a writer's prompt; Monday Night PlayGrounds are structured around a different theme each month.
PlayGround has been cultivating the works of early-career playwrights since 1994. Through its Monday Night staged readings, 650 original short plays have been developed. PlayGround alumni have gone on to stage their works at the Humana Festival, Sundance Festival, Bay Area Playwrights Festival, Aurora Theatre's Global Age Project, and N.Y. International Fringe Festival, among others.
Last year, artistic director Jim Kleinman and the company decided to mix some fresh talent into the gene pool by coaxing collaboration between playwrights and filmmakers. By providing an opportunity for film directors to team up with theater writers, the festival encourages partnerships that result in cross-bred outcomes.
"So many films get made that are good in every respect, they may have great production values, but if the script isn't there, the film wont be first-rate," said Amy Harrison, who adapted Kirk Shimano's play Miss Finknagle Succumbs to Chaos for the current film festival. "It's really all about the quality of the script. With these playwrights, the battle is won."