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Save The Arts Showcases Local Talent, Indie Films
[October 11, 2007]

Save The Arts Showcases Local Talent, Indie Films

(Tampa Tribune (FL) (KRT) Via Thomson Dialog NewsEdge) Oct. 11--TAMPA -- Rachael Lee Stroud, 16, has acted in nine independent film projects, five television productions, five television commercials, one music video and numerous promotional events for Walt Disney World.

The Plant High School student is excited about her big-screen debut Saturday during the Save the Arts event at Channelside Bay Plaza.

"There are a lot of films being made in the Tampa area that people don't know about, so this is a really great event," she says.

Under the stage name of Rachael Lee, she appears in two films that will be screened at the Channelside Cinemas.

In "The Good Samaritan," a 15-minute short, she plays an abuse victim who is being watched by a man who wants to "help" her.

"He kidnaps the people who have abused her and lets her decide whether they live or die," she says. "It's a short film, but it's very intense."

In "Gunn Highway," a film about two men in jail for their crimes, she plays a murder victim.

She is one of dozens of actors, directors, filmmakers, musicians and artists who will be participating in Save the Arts, an event designed to showcase the Bay area's creative community.

Among the local musicians performing will be Rebekah & The Reluctant Prophets, Middle Rhythm Session and Shane Meade.

In addition to live musical performances, several locally produced films will be shown beginning at 1 p.m. The final screening at 9 will be the premiere of "100 Tears," a horror film about a killer clown.

"These are films made by independent producers using local talent," says Mike Compton, producer of "The Good Samaritan."

The film was written and directed by Evan Smith. In addition to Lee, it features Duca Green, Kenneth Mathews and Robert Elfstrom.

Compton says the local independent films vary in length, style and content. "100 Tears," for example, is a gory tale about two journalists on the trail of a serial killer, Gurdy the Clown. It was written and produced by actor-director Joe Davidson of Tampa.

Other local producers represented include Marcus Koch, Greg Baldi, Rob Sterrett, Jon Wolding, Kimberly Heath-Carrico, Brandon Hein and Pete and Paul Guzzo.

"People might be surprised at how much local production there is here," says Compton, who day job is at Tampa Digital Studios, where he is a producer and account executive.

"Some of us make films on our own time and with student actors and shoestring budgets," he says.

Others have full-blown budgets and financial backing, he adds.

These local artists are asking for only a $5 donation, with proceeds going to The Education Channel, a nonprofit cable TV channel covering Hillsborough County educational institutions, Compton says.

The Hillsborough County Commission recently made severe cuts in The Education Channel's budget. The Education Channel has supported independent filmmakers through its annual Tampa International Film Festival.

Some proceeds also will go to VSA Arts, a program for people with disabilities to learn through, participate in and enjoy the arts, and Gala Corina, an artist showcase.

Actors such as Lee and producers such as Compton will have a chance to mix and mingle with the public Saturday. Lee, who will be appearing soon in TV commercials for The Florida Orchestra and the Gasparilla Film Festival, says her goal is to work on "Guiding Light," her mother's favorite daytime drama.

Save the Arts is a chance for filmmakers and actors to get some recognition for their work, Compton says.

"We do it because we have a passion for this work," he says.


WHAT: Showcase for local filmmakers; also, music in the courtyard

WHEN: 1 to 9 p.m Saturday

WHERE: Channelside Cinemas at Channelside Bay Plaza, 615 Channelside Drive, Tampa

ADMISSION: $5 donation

Reporter Walt Belcher can be reached at (813) 259-7654 or

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