Comic con being planned for Farmington in January

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FARMINGTON — The lineup of offerings for the inaugural Four Corners Film Festival in September continues to grow.

The festival, which will take place Sept. 10-15 at the Totah Theater and the Farmington Civic Center, will feature film screenings, panel discussions, workshops, an awards ceremony, a fashion show and parties. It is being organized by local independent filmmaker Brent Garcia.

Garcia said last week that nearly 270 films had been submitted for inclusion in the festival.

"So we're going to have a really good offering of films this year," he said.

A recent addition to the festival's offerings is a music production panel that will include some industry heavyweights discussing the licensing of music for films. Garcia said the panel will feature TJ Chapman, industry executive, artist manager and tastemaker; Issy Sanchez, a 40-year music industry veteran and president of Music IS Entertainment; Soren Baker, a journalist who writes about hip hop and sports, and whose work has been featured in The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times and the Chicago Tribune; and Steve Migliore, a.k.a, Mr. Mig, a producer, composer and DJ who has worked with artists ranging from Beyoncé, Taylor Swift and Britney Spears to Adele, LeAnn Rimes and Usher.

"That panel's going to be exceptional," Garcia said.

Also taking part in the festival will be Farmington native John Austin, a.k.a. Poppin John, an internationally known dancer who recently advanced to the division finals on the NBC-TV series "World of Dance" before being eliminated. Austin will perform during a fashion show that Garcia promises will be a full theatrical production.

The reception to the festival has been very encouraging, he said, explaining he is very pleased with the quality of industry professionals who have agreed to take part and the sponsorship it has drawn from local businesses.

More: Four Corners Film Festival designed to help jump start industry in San Juan County

"For our first year, it's massive," he said. "We have an overwhelming amount of support from the businesses in the community to the city and the county."

Garcia acknowledged that the recent media attention and social media buzz that developed when two large film productions — a sequel to "Jumanji" starring Dwayne Johnson, Jack Black and Kevin Hart, and "Bios," a sci-fi drama starring Tom Hanks — shot footage in the Shiprock area may have helped his cause considerably.

"Certainly, the bigger productions coming in helped validate (the idea that the film industry can have a significant impact on San Juan County)," he said, adding that his film production company has been in communication with producers of a handful of smaller-budget projects — somewhere in the low seven figures — who are interested in shooting in San Juan County next spring.

More: San Juan County closing in on developing plan for new film production facility

A committee of nearly three dozen people has been planning the festival, Garcia said, and several subcommittees are focusing on specific areas. Garcia said that has allowed his full-time team from the Film Four Corners organization to avoid becoming overwhelmed as the festival approaches.

"A lot of businesses are throwing people at us," he said, describing offers of free manpower. "There's been a ton of support, so it's made it much more manageable for me and my team."

Garcia said he has been pleasantly surprised at how local businesses and residents have responded to the festival, given the fact that many of them have no familiarity with such events.

"It's more than I expected for our first year," he said of the financial and volunteer support. "It really took us four and a half or five months just to properly present it to people."

The preparations for the festival have gone so smoothly that Garcia said it has led to plans for another major event in Farmington early in 2020. When Civic Center supervisor Randy West approached Garcia with the idea of holding a comic convention at the facility, Garcia jumped on the idea. Plans for the event are being formalized, with an eye toward staging it in early January.

More: Film production facility could boost local economy, officials say

"We're anticipating 1,000 or more people for the film festival," Garcia said. "And we'll probably have more for the comic con. Between those, we'll have a couple of good events that will drive business to downtown."

Garcia said he has spoken to filmmakers from as far away as Boston and Atlanta who already are making plans to attend the film festival. He believes the event will be an even easier sell next year when organizers have the inaugural event under their belt.

"I think next year we'll have people calling us and asking how to get involved," he said.

Mike Easterling can be reached at 505-564-4610.

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