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Sara Thompson’s deadCenter Spotlight

A familiar face gains a greater film festival role



 



Sara Thompson is ready for her close-up. After six years of programming and promoting short films, Thompson has been selected as the new head of programming for the deadCenter Film Festival, Oklahoma’s largest cinematic event and one of MovieMaker magazine’s “20 Coolest Film Festivals in the World.”
 

The job is a huge responsibility: More than 1,200 filmmakers from around the world submit films to deadCenter each year, hoping to be among the 100 films selected to screen for OKC audiences during the second weekend of June. With 30,000 fans in attendance, deadCenter offers sold-out screenings, statewide press and distribution opportunities for short films and features alike.

Thompson is certainly qualified for the job. She’s an award-winning filmmaker with experience on feature films, short films, television shows and commercials, and has taught film production to high school and middle school students. And, perhaps most importantly, she served as deadCenter’s short film programmer for the past six years.

The opportunity to head up programming for deadCenter is a dream come true for Thompson, who discovered her love for film programming several years ago while attending the University of Oklahoma.

“I was working on my BA in Film Studies, when I heard about an internship at the OKC Museum of Art,” Thompson remembers. “I got the job and started working directly for Brian Hearn, the film curator at the time. I loved it all: selecting the films, negotiating with distributors and understanding how to grow an audience for independent films. That became my dream, to find movies that I love and share them with people.”  

Film opportunities in Oklahoma were few and far between at the time, so after graduation, Thompson moved to New York City and landed a highly competitive production job with VH1 and MTV.

The networks kept her busy with high-profile projects: She worked on the “All Access” series, as well as “The 100 Greatest Rock Songs,” “Lindsay Lohan’s Hollywood Trainwreck” and Maxim’s Hot 100. After a couple of years, Thompson realized she would rather be doing production work at home, so she moved back to Oklahoma and immediately went to work.

“My first feature film was Pearl, produced by the Chickasaw Nation,” Thompson recalls. “It was the story of the youngest licensed pilot in history, so there were lots of airplanes, historic costumes and children. The production was a challenge, but the cast and crew were fantastic.”

Thompson continued to work on film and commercial productions, including Brooks Douglass’ Heaven’s Rain and The Rounder Comes to Town, which won Best Okie Short Film at deadCenter in 2010, and she started teaching film production classes at ASTEC Charter School and Putnam City High School. Throughout her time in production and education, Thompson volunteered at managing the deadCenter Film Festival box office.

In 2011, deadCenter offered Thompson the opportunity to be the festival’s first official shorts programmer. During her tenure, she elevated the shorts programs to new heights. She reached out to filmmakers at larger festivals to secure the best films from Sundance, South by Southwest, even an Oscar winner or two. She helped Oklahoma short filmmakers successfully connect with distributors such as ShortsTV to gain international distribution, while growing local audience for short films, hosting multiple sold-out screenings each year.

When deadCenter’s Director of Programming Kim Haywood decided to step down this fall, everyone agreed that there was only one person who could take the reins and lead the festival to new heights: Sara Thompson.

Barely a month into the new job, Thompson already has big plans. She wants deadCenter to become an Oscar-qualifying festival, and hopes to present and promote Oklahoma films and filmmakers in innovative new ways. She also expects to expand the slate of films to include more virtual reality and augmented reality experiences, while keeping key aspects of the festival intact.

“deadCenter has always been about celebrating filmmakers and the art of film,” Thompson says. “If we continue to strengthen relationships with local and national filmmakers, we will attract great films, draw excited audiences and help make Oklahoma City the coolest place in the world for independent film.”

 

 

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September 2018

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More than 20 speakers in a one-track session designed for the digital marketing professional, marketer, business owner or anyone interested in branding, PR, advertising, social media, SEO, search,...

Cost: $250

Where:
Tower Theatre
425 NW 23rd St
Oklahoma City, OK  73103
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Sponsor: BigWing
Telephone: 405.475.4185
Contact Name: Janelle Archer
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This year will mark the eighth time the John F. Kennedy Awards have been celebrated, honoring individuals making a significant contribution to Oklahoma, its communities and its people, while paying...

Cost: $300

Where:
Skirvin Hilton Hotel
1 Park Ave.
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
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Sponsor: Santa Fe Family Life Center
Telephone: 405-840-1817
Contact Name: James Timberlake
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More than 20 speakers in a one-track session designed for the digital marketing professional, marketer, business owner or anyone interested in branding, PR, advertising, social media, SEO, search,...

Cost: $250

Where:
Tower Theatre
425 NW 23rd St
Oklahoma City, OK  73103
View map »


Sponsor: BigWing
Telephone: 405.475.4185
Contact Name: Janelle Archer
Website »

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Price Tower Art Gallery in Bartlesville will host Women Artists of the West's 48th annual juried art exhibition, featuring over 200 original art works, created by women in all mediums, subjects...

Cost: Free 2018-09-21,22,23

Where:
Price Tower Art Gallery
510 S. Dewey Ave.
Bartlesville, OK  74003
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Sponsor: Price Tower Arts Center
Telephone: 918.336.4949
Contact Name: Angelina Bourgou
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Escape the ordinary, and learn about OKC from a different point of view. Relax in the climate controlled cabin on one of our 65’ cruisers, or enjoy the breeze on the viewing deck and listen...

Cost: $15 for Seniors and kids under 12, $20 Adults

Where:
Regatta Landing
701 S. Lincoln Blvd.
OKC, OK  73109
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Telephone: 405.702.7755
Contact Name: Business Office
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A fabulous art auction to raise money to help support Oklahoma A+ Schools at UCO.

Cost: $100

Where:
CHK|Central Boathouse
732 Riversport Dr.
Oklahoma City, OK  73129
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Sponsor: Oklahoma A+ Schools at UCO
Telephone: 405.974.3791
Contact Name: Heather Bryant
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The evening Cocktail Cruise offers stunning views of the downtown skyline, the Boathouse District and Finish Line Tower, the Wheeler Ferris wheel and quite possibly an amazing Oklahoma sunset. Come...

Cost: $15 for Seniors and kids under 12, $20 Adults

Where:
Regatta Landing
701 S. Lincoln Blvd.
OKC, OK  73109
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Telephone: 405.702.7755
Contact Name: Business Office
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Join supporters in communities across the nation for the St. Jude Walk/Run to End Childhood Cancer during Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. This family-friendly event raises funds to support the...

Cost: $10 for adults or children six and older

Where:
Stars and Stripes Park
3701 S. Lake Hefner Drive
Oklahoma City , OK  73116
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Telephone: 405.403.7762
Contact Name: Emily Drover
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Let’s end childhood cancer. Together! This September, supporters across the country will unite to participate in the St. Jude Walk/Run to End Childhood Cancer, an exciting, family-friendly...

Cost: $10 for Registration

Where:
Stars and Stripes Park
3701 S Lake Hefner Dr
Oklahoma City, OK  73116
View map »


Sponsor: ALSAC St. Jude Oklahoma City
Telephone: 405.403.7762
Contact Name: Emily Drover
Website »

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Price Tower Art Gallery in Bartlesville will host Women Artists of the West's 48th annual juried art exhibition, featuring over 200 original art works, created by women in all mediums, subjects...

Cost: Free 2018-09-21,22,23

Where:
Price Tower Art Gallery
510 S. Dewey Ave.
Bartlesville, OK  74003
View map »


Sponsor: Price Tower Arts Center
Telephone: 918.336.4949
Contact Name: Angelina Bourgou
Website »

More information

Escape the ordinary, and learn about OKC from a different point of view. Relax in the climate controlled cabin on one of our 65’ cruisers, or enjoy the breeze on the viewing deck and listen...

Cost: $15 for Seniors and kids under 12, $20 Adults

Where:
Regatta Landing
701 S. Lincoln Blvd.
OKC, OK  73109
View map »


Telephone: 405.702.7755
Contact Name: Business Office
Website »

More information

The evening Cocktail Cruise offers stunning views of the downtown skyline, the Boathouse District and Finish Line Tower, the Wheeler Ferris wheel and quite possibly an amazing Oklahoma sunset. Come...

Cost: $15 for Seniors and kids under 12, $20 Adults

Where:
Regatta Landing
701 S. Lincoln Blvd.
OKC, OK  73109
View map »


Telephone: 405.702.7755
Contact Name: Business Office
Website »

More information

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