North Texas Daily

Thin Line festival gives film a platform to shine

Thin Line festival gives film a platform to shine

Thin Line festival gives film a platform to shine
February 19
00:23 2015

Kayleigh Bywater / Staff Writer

Eight years ago, Thin Line president Joshua Butler decided he wanted to add to the festival scene in Denton. Now, Butler is preparing for another year of Thin Line.

Thin Line is a five-day festival in Denton that began Wednesday night and runs until Feb. 22. It features everything from documentary films and shorts to musical performances and photography galleries.

In 2003, Butler started his higher education at UNT for film. He came up with the idea to start a non-profit organization that would later become Thin Line. Butler started the festival in 2007 and since then, it has garnered local and national attention.

“We tried to create an organization that would be embraced by the community,” Butler said. “One of the ways we planned on doing that was by creating a film festival within three years. That was in 2004. When we launched Thin Line in 2007 we had no idea that the festival would end up being the full-time role of the non-profit.”

The festival includes works of film, music and art from all over the world, Butler said.


The Campus Theater is a full-house on opening night of the Thin Line film festival, with the premiere of the documentary, “Midlake: Live in Denton, TX.” Actor Jason Lee and director Eric Noren produced and directed the live concert film for the local rock band Midlake.

Thin Line vice president Paul Meltzer said they do everything they can in order to get quality material for the festival. He said they received around 350 film submissions, 200 musical artist applications and more than 1,000 photographs.

“For the program committee, we are a small group that looks at all the films and rates them based on quality of experience and variety,” Meltzer said. “The first cut is by far the easiest, but it just gets harder as we go along because the material is so solid.”

Meltzer said the festival is more than just a weeklong celebration of the arts because the process of bringing the festival to light is a long, tedious process.

Marketing director Mindy Arendt said more goes on behind the scenes than what people may expect in order to make the festival successful.

“I run the social media outlets, work with publications about advertising and press releases, design and help distribute marketing materials,” Arendt said. “It is a team effort and we all step up and get things done, even if it is outside our duties.”


Jason Lee laughs Wednesday before the premiere of the documentary “Midlake: Live from Denton, TX,” about the local rock band, during the opening night of the Thin Line film festival at Campus Theater.

Festival magic

The films at Thin Line are spaced at different times throughout the week in order to allow maximum viewings, Butler said.

Director Jonathan McFarlane’s film “Gifted” will be shown at 7 p.m. Feb. 20 at the Campus Theatre on the Square.

“Gifted” tells the story of Phil Heath, a bodybuilder whose dream is to win Mr. Olympia, the “Super Bowl” of bodybuilding. McFarlane said he has a close relationship with Heath, and would film videos of Heath for his fan base. McFarlane said he had so much footage that he decided to combine it, add cohesiveness, and create a documentary.

“It was hard to find a starting point, as it is with any film,” McFarlane said. “I wanted to tell his story so people who do not necessarily care about bodybuilding would be interested.”

The film took less than three years to shoot, and McFarlane said he had one festival in particular that he wanted to submit the film to.

“I submitted my first film, ‘Project Canada’, to Thin Line in 2008 and it was rejected,” McFarlane said. “I just really loved the concept of the festival. When I finished ‘Gifted,’ Thin Line was the first festival on my mind, and my film got selected.”

McFarlane said even though his first film was turned town, he tried again because he respected the premise of Thin Line.

“Thin Line provides a lot of exposure to films that people may not get to normally see,” McFarlane said. “There are not a lot of outlets out there to go see these indie documentary movies, and awesome festivals like this one give us directors the opportunity to show our work.”

Documentary film production graduate student Sharie Vance’s film “Finding Faulkner” was also selected for the festival lineup, and it will premiere at noon on Feb. 21 at the Campus Theatre.

“Finding Faulkner” is about Vance and her father going on a road trip to Mississippi. Vance said their goal is to look through records and find if they are related to the writer William Faulkner.


Volunteer Joy Roberts folds T-shirts Wednesday during the opening night of the Thin Line film festival at the Campus Theater. “If you wanted to have a common language, it wasn’t books, it was the storyline in film,” she said, recalling her days as an English teacher in Austin. 

“At the beginning, I thought, ‘Oh, it is just a road trip and my dad is a character, so this will make for an interesting, lighthearted film,’” Vance said. “It got so much deeper than that. What emerged was a theme of being lost and found. I know my father so much more now.”

Media arts graduate student David Goodman’s film “Critterman” will play at 10 p.m. Feb. 21 at the Campus Theatre. “Critterman” tells the story of animal “edutainer” David Kleven, who has been educating the North Texas area about interesting critters for the last 20 years.

Although Critterman was more than welcome to be the main character of Goodman’s movie, Goodman said it can sometimes be difficult to catch people on camera.

“The most difficult part about being a filmmaker is actually finding and getting a subject on board,” Goodman said. “You need to see if they’re willing for you to film their life. It is a lot harder to let cameras into your life than people think.”

A community brought together

The Thin Line Festival is not only a place for directors, musicians and Dentonites to gather, Arendt said. It is also an event in which the community can come together to enjoy the arts.

“For me, the most rewarding part is getting to know more people in the community and getting more involved,” Arendt said. “I love Denton, and I hope this year we get new members in the Thin Line family who will come year after year here on out.”


The Campus Theater premiered the documentary “Midlake: Live from Denton, TX,” during the opening night of the Thin Line festival on Wednesday.

Butler said his hope is that people have a great time and appreciate what these artists have worked on.

“The hardest part of the festival is all the work, but the best part is its payoff,” Butler said. “I hope that each person has an impactful experience. Whether it is at a film, concert or browsing this year’s photography, I want our audience to be moved.”

For more information on tickets and a full schedule of this week’s film and music lineup, visit

Featured Image” Jason Lee laughs Wednesday alongside Eric Pulido and Joshua Butler (left), director of Thin Line film festival, before the premiere of the documentary “Midlake: Live from Denton, TX,” during the opening night of the festival at Campus Theater. Photos by Tyler Cleveland – Contributing Photographer

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