Film veterans Doug Miller and Norm Coyne will talk about building a QC film scene Thursday, Aug. 18 in downtown Rock Island.

Two highlights of this coming weekend’s Alternating Currents festival are all about film. And like all the 120+ events over Aug. 18-21 in downtown Davenport and Rock Island, they’re free.

First, film veterans Norm Coyne and Doug Miller will discuss building a Quad Cities film scene, Thursday from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at Center for Living Arts, 220 19th St., Rock Island. It includes a short film screening, followed by a video and panel discussion about film production locations & film-friendly communities.

Canadian filmmaker Norm Coyne is an organizer of the Stephen King Rules Film Festival at Alternating Currents this year, which will be Friday to Sunday at the Figge Art Museum auditorium, 225 W. 2nd St., Davenport.

Norm Coyne is a Canadian filmmaker and organizer of the Stephen King Rules Film Festival this weekend at Alternating Currents.

In 2020, Coyne was one of 100 filmmakers chosen from across Canada as part of the Netflix-BANFF Diversity of Voices Fellowship in the Indigenous filmmaker category. He is also the founding partner of UNLTD Media, Northern FanCon and Barker Street Cinema, all based in Canada.

Miller, of Davenport, has over 35 years of experience working with state and local film offices and award-winning producers from across North America and worldwide serving in production management positions on over 20 motion pictures.

Last year, Miller brought in Illinois Film Office director Peter Hawley for a similar panel discussion to kick off Alternating Currents.

The city of Rock Island has worked to establish a new QC Regional Film Office. In June, the City Council approved a one-year contract with Miller and his firm, Two Rivers & Associates, to be funded by a $65,000 grant from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity.

Doug Miller of Davenport.

Among Miller’s responsibilities with the new film office are to:

  • Develop a website to showcase the QC region as a filming destination and provide information about the region.
  • Make a recommendation for membership to the Association of Film Commissioners International.
  • Identify and create a report for available workforce, workforce needed, required training including cost and a plan to conduct the training, and recommendations on how to grow workforce.
  • Prepare documentation for facilities that can house productions.
  • Advise staff in efforts to support existing and emerging local filmmakers.
  • Explore feasibility of the concept of a film festival either as a stand-alone event or as a complement to an existing event.

On Thursday, Coyne (who is based in Prince George, British Columbia) will show a multimedia presentation that will give testimonials about how film productions help local communities.

He created a web series, “Small Town, Long Shots,” that offers tips on how to bring film and TV production to your town. They interviewed some of their favorite filmmakers and asked what they should be doing to build the industry where we live.

Prince George is about 500 miles north of the popular filming hub of Vancouver, but it’s had great success in attracting projects, Coyne said Monday.

“We went from like absolutely nothing in Prince George to — in the last year — four feature films,” he said. “So we have a model that I feel works.”

Miller has touted the QC area for its rich diversity of filming locations — including rural, urban, historic, contemporary, and many riverfront spots.

“From what heard of the Quad Cities, it could represent many other cities, and that is something that we have dealt with along the way,” Coyne said, noting filmmakers also judge an area based on financial incentives offered, to lower production costs.

During his QC visit, Coyne said he wants to see as much of the area as possible, and offer tips on marketing the region — including compiling a film production website and guide to available workforce.

“Wicked Ways” — the pilot for a TV series about a ghost hunter in northern British Columbia — will be shown at the Aug. 18 film event in Rock Island.

“The thing that’s amazing about Norm is, that Prince George — where they are from, where they found success — is not that much different than the Quad Cities,” Josh Kahn, co-host of the QC-based Stephen King podcast Derry Public Radio, said Tuesday. “We are outside of the larger cities. You think about that when producing big events, so the fact that we have someone like Norm who’s been where we are, and as the Quad Cities is trying to open that film office — hopefully, here in the in the next year — who’s built the scene we are trying to build, coming to talk to us.”

“We have a great filmmaking community in the Quad Cities,” Kahn said. “There are tons of of individual filmmakers and film students,” he said. “What an amazing opportunity to go to an event where you can watch a ton of independently produced films.”

Derry suggested the QC film fest

Having the Stephen King Rules Festival in Davenport was recommended by Kahn and his cohorts, who are diehard fans of the prolific horror master.

“I’m super excited that we’re able to do this in person rather than just online,” Coyne said, noting the film festival was last online in April 2021, and this will be the first in person.

The Dollar Baby Film Festival will be Aug. 19-21 at the Figge Art Museum auditorium, second floor.

There will be 36 unreleased films adapted from King stories shown for free from Alternating Currents and online on YouTube. The films range in length from 5 to 75 minutes, with most around 20 minutes, Coyne said.

They are nicknamed “Dollar Baby” films. “Dollar Baby” is a term coined by King himself, and is the author’s humble attempt to share his work with film students and aspiring filmmakers trying to make a name for themselves in the industry. For $1, these filmmakers can adapt his stories as long as they never commercially distribute the films ( that includes uploading them to the Internet).

There are some of Stephen King’s 200-odd short stories adapted more than once, and this weekend’s festival includes three based on one short story — “The Man Who Loved Flowers,” first published in August 1977 and later in King’s 1978 collection Night Shift.

Derry Public Radio, a bi-weekly podcast (airing every other Sunday), launched four years ago and is hosted by Josh Kahn, C.M. Alexander and Ben Graham. It’s named for Derry, Maine — the fictional town in which many King stories are set.

The Derry Public Radio podcast (new episodes every other Sunday) is hosted by Josh Kahn, left, C.M. Alexander and Ben Graham.

“It is so cool to see young, newer filmmakers and it tells so much — because you’re seeing the same material through these completely different scopes and it’s so exciting,” Kahn said Tuesday.

Haikus for each film

“I reached out to them and apparently, I was the first email they got after the announcement of the first festival and I invited them on the show,” he said of last year’s fest. Derry Public Radio created haikus based on each film, tweeted during the online fest, and also was invited to Prince George last year to be part of a fan convention.

Kahn came up with the idea of creating haikus for each film, which they’ll do again this weekend. “It was just crazy. One guy even got our haiku tattooed,” he said of a film director who’s part of this year’s fest.

Each haiku is based on the specific film, not just the story. The format of Japanese poetry is a total of 17 syllables shared between three lines, arranged in a pattern of 5-7-5.

At this weekend’s fest, the three Derry hosts will read their haikus live at the Figge auditorium (writing them during the film and reading them after).

A Derry Public Radio T-shirt.

Last year, Derry put all their haikus on T-shirts, and sold in their Etsy store. They’ve interviewed many Dollar Baby filmmakers for the podcast.

“I’ve always really thought haikus were fun,” Kahn said. “I love to be involved in the things that are going on and so forth. Haikus I think are fun and they can be funny and they can be serious. So, I just thought, what a perfect bite-sized way to summarize something with those 17 syllables.

“It also forces you to be a little creative,” he said. “I love getting reader emails about how much our listeners love us, and it feels amazing, and there are times when we’ve gotten little pieces of fan art and it blows my mind, somebody spent time creating art based on my art.”

“I really hope that everyone realizes what a big deal it is, that this will be the first time these films have been shown in the public eye at an in-person festival,” Kahn said the new King film festival.

The Derry Public Radio team will also do a panel discussion at Alternating Currents Saturday, Aug. 20 at 5 p.m. Stompbox Brewing, 210 E. River Drive, Davenport. For a complete lineup for the free festival, click HERE.