Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Starring Jacksonville


The plush, red carpet rolled out. Local photographers flashed their cameras. The band of young jazz musicians fine-tuned its notes. Waiters prepared trays with delicious finger-foods while bartenders fully stocked the bar. And the silver-encrusted awards glittered on the podium of the stage. Jacksonville was set to premiere in its big role last night as the host of the 5th Annual Legends Awards, located in the revamped WJCT Studios.

Film Florida started the awards ceremony to commemorate special individuals in Florida’s film industry. This year’s recipients included technically gifted director/producer Jerry Smith, film studio founder, the late Richard Norman, and distributing extraordinaire Belton Clark.

At the beginning of the event, the who’s who of the film industry in Florida gathered to catch up with old friends and make new ones. The hall was a flurry of excitement as guests swarmed around tables with food in one hand, drinks in the other, and smiles on their faces. Creating a warm and friendly atmosphere, the reception was the perfect prelude to the honoring ceremony.

Guests then strutted across the red carpet from the reception hall into a large studio room. Elegantly decorated with white chairs, gold Oscar-like figurines on the stage, and even an old-time popcorn machine, the room symbolized the greatness of the film industry. Large projector screens daunted both sides of the stage, showcasing short montages about the accomplishments of each legend.

Presenters Graham Winick, the immediate last Film Florida president, and Todd Roobin, Jacksonville Film & Television Office Chief, resided over the stage and took numerous jabs at each other. In his speech, legend Jerry Smith consented he is only a legend in the sense that he is able to make legends, encouraging the younger generation to pursue their dreams. Capt. Norman, the son of legend Richard Norman, discussed his father’s achievements in opening opportunities for African-American actors and in developing the first sound films. And legend Belton Clark spoke on the dependence on other components of filmmaking, particularly directing and producing, his own field of distributing experiences. The widow and son of the late Don Davis presented a check to the recipients of the Don Davis Finishing Fund, the crew of the eye-opening documentary The 904.

Hilarious and sentimental, the ceremony captured not just the legacy of three individuals, but of all of Florida’s talented, developing filmmakers. The Legends Awards served as a reminder of the importance in preserving the film history of Jacksonville and continuing to make new history.

By Denia Hasic

Photos from the FF 5th Annual Legends Awards

Photos from the prelude event, the FF Khaki & White Cocktail Reception

To view all photos from the two events, visit PhotoBucket at FF Fifth Annual Legends Awards and FF Khaki and White Silent Auction

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