Soul United Film Festival: Focus on local videos

Medium: the mode by which an artistic expression is conveyed. As important as the message is the method used to deliver it, an idea enthusiastically embraced by Staxx Brothers’ leading man Davin Stedman. Vocalist, producer, and musical devotee, Stedman hopes to bring this message to the people this summer when he kicks off the first Soul United Film Festival at Bellingham’s Pickford Film Center.

Presented in collaboration with Summer Meltdown, which provided the necessary capital, the Soul United Festival is a mixed media, visual arts celebration focused primarily on local music videos. Interspersed with live performances by comedians and other forms of visual arts, Soul United Film Festival is inspired by the eclectic entertainment that was Vaudeville.

A theatrical genre of variety entertainment from the turn of the century, Vaudeville performances were a collection of unrelated acts that were brought together on the same bill. Drawing on a similar structure, the Soul United Film Festival unites disparate musical and artistic performers together in one location. When asked to describe the specific structure, Stedman laughed, “every time I make a rule, I break it.”

Though uncertain as to what defined shape it might take, Stedman was certain of one quality he wanted to achieve: “I want to pull people out of their expectations and give them an experience they couldn’t fathom.”

The film festival, scheduled for Thursday July 12, will feature a wide array of performers and producers. These will include, but are not limited to, The Bad Tenants, Yogoman Burning Band, and, of course, The Staxx Brothers. The event will also feature world premiers of projects such as The True Spokes debut music-video “Back Porch” and a short film dedicated to the Summer Meltdown Music Festival, Meltdown: The Search for The Heady Crystal.

Stedman, who sees a kind of “renaissance” in music-video production by local musicians, sees the Soul United Film Festival as a key venue to showcase this kind of artistry. Stedman sees this rebirth as the result of major music companies and popular musicians placing less and less emphasis on creating quality music videos. Stedman sees the film festival as a mode to nurture this dying art.

However, the sights of the festival are placed most firmly on the community. Stedman seeks not only to draw in and support local performers, but members of the community from every walk of life. Of particular importance for Stedman is to give those a chance at a taste of the limelight who, save for the festival, may never receive it. Case in point is Edward Bardot. An aged gentlemen of noted fashion sense, he is featured in several of the shorts created by Stedman, as well as being on the poster for the event.

Fittingly, the festival is the combined efforts of many members of the community, both seen and unseen. Marisa Papetti, of local company Fifthonsixth, helped broker the deal to utilize the Pickford Film Center as the venue for the event. Originally scheduled for the, smaller, 21 and over only theater, the festival will now be hosted in the larger all ages theater. Though Stedman cautions a theoretical “PG-13″ rating for the festivals contents. Stedman feels that having the event open to a younger audience is important for the development of the next generation of artists.

Ultimately, according to Stedman, the event is rooted in an attempt to deliver the message of the creators in the way that were meant to, “I just don’t believe that those artists aspire for their art to be consumed and judged solely based on how they appear on 2 or 3 inch screens.”

For more information on the event go to the Staxx Brothers website at For information regarding advanced tickets and screen times visit the Pickford Film Center’s website at




The Soul United Film Fest at the Pickford Film Center (1318 Bay St) presents a program of music videos & short film produced throughout the Northwest, with a particular focus on local artists. The event features world premiers of several projects, including The True Spokes debut video “Back Porch” & the short film, Meltdown: The Search for The Heady Crystal.


Participating filmmakers, music acts, and screen actors of note:

Dark Heart Visions / The True Spokes / DJ Clint Westwood / The Productionists

Five Alarm Funk / The Bad Tenants / Yogoman Burning Band / The Staxx Brothers Nasty Surprize / Down North / Conceit / Theoretics / Gary Washington / Jeff Ferrell Ziggy Newlin / Ltisa Dank / Keaton Collective / Kevin Chryst / Endorfins / Lumpkins Tyler Trerise / Chase Dooley / Cooper Kent

All proceeds from the event’s $3 cover go towards DOCTOBER, a month long celebration of documentary filmmaking, produced by Pickford Film Center each October.

Summer Meltdown Music Festival, fifthonsixth, and Dark Heart Films have graciously donated time and resources to ensure all money grossed from the door goes directly towards the DOCTOBER film program. The event is open to all ages, though it’s fair to say that some audience would consider some of the material PG-13.