Mountainfilm: "Emerging Filmmaker" Maxwell –"Finding Home In Boomtown”

The line-up for the 41st annual gathering of the tribe in Telluride over Memorial Weekend features guest director Cheryl Strayed, plus Sir Chris Bonington, Hilaree Nelson, Erin Parisi and top Obama aide Ben Rhodes.

Passes/tickets to the 41st annual Mountainfilm are selling out fast.

In 2017, Matt Maxwell received Mountainfilm’s very first “Emerging Filmmaker” fellowship. He returns in 2019 with his latest project: “Finding Home in Boomtown.” Scroll down to listen to Matt’s podcast.

Filmmaker Matt Maxwell & his wife/partner Katie.

Fact is, residents in the more upscale half of Texas’s Permian Basin make more money per capita than people in New York, San Francisco, Dallas, and Houston.

In red dirt country, it’s Midland, not Dallas, that is the place to be for the wealthy these days and among the top zip codes for American wealth in general. After Bridgeport, Connecticut, Midland is the richest city in the country, ahead of San Francisco, San Jose and Washington D.C.

Oil rich Midland, a town of 130,000, is therefore one of the best small places for business and careers.

Bot not so much for housing, which is in very low supply. Last year, there were reports of three- to five-month waiting lists for apartments for workers and, when available, rents were exorbitant.

In West Texas, where bigger is best, many folks fall through the cracks.

But it is not hopeless for the homeless thanks to Briana and John-Mark Echols whose Field’s Edge non-profit is determined to create a permanent, supportive, tiny house community for the “chronically homeless and disabled.”

According to The Field’s Edge website:

“This village will bring more than one hundred formerly homeless residents of the Permian Basin into The Field’s Edge family. Every detail of the design will be centered on building relationships. People who have never experienced homelessness will be called to live in the village as missional residents. They will live alongside men and women who have spent most of their lives on the street. The gifts and talents of our residents will be developed into microenterprises, enabling them to earn a dignified income. Partnerships will be forged with mental and physical health care providers to give residents the care they need. The Field’s Edge will be a permanent place to call home, a place for neighbors to walk alongside each other for life.”

The Echolses and their The Field’s Edge are the subjects of a verité documentary titled “Finding Home in Boomtown,” directed by Matt Maxwell. The film is featured at the 41st annual Mountainfilm, which takes place over Memorial Weekend (May 24 – May 27) in Telluride.

Below are a few stills from the film.








Filmed over two years, Matt’s’ story starts as the Echolses sell their newly built, custom home and most of their possessions, move into an RV and commit their lives to helping the homeless. As the story continues, the contrasting relationships – husband/wife, parents/children, affluent/homeless, culture/convictions – set up interesting dynamics and dramatic tensions throughout.

As for Matt, well, he is no newbie to Telluride. In 2017, he became Mountainfilm’s very first Emerging Filmmaker Fellow. The initiative is another way for Mountainfilm to support the filmmakers whose work is foundational for the festival.

“Without film, we have no festival,” Festival Director Suzan Beraza noted. “Filmmakers provide our content and the roots of who we are. This Emerging Filmmaker fellowship is our way of supporting the next generation of talent.”

The Emerging Filmmaker fellowship was launched as a way to focus Mountainfilm support specifically on filmmakers at the beginning of their careers. Mountainfilm had already been giving Commitment Grants each year to help creative individuals tell stories that align with the nonprofit’s mission to celebrate indomitable spirit, plus educate and motivate audiences, individuals and communities worldwide to advance solutions for a more livable planet.

But as word has spread and the grants program has grown in profile, the pool of applicants has increased in both number and quality, a great scenario for Mountainfilm, but it also makes the process more competitive, particularly for less-established filmmakers.

And, as Beraza knows from personal experience, a vote of support from a high-profile organization can make a world of difference for a first-timer.

“Once you get that sort of support, it makes it so much easier to continue gathering more funding and recognition,” she explained. “It gives any project credibility. Matt was a student in a master’s program, and his trailer was one of the best we saw that year. We thought it was a really fresh spin on a concept we’ve seen before at Mountainfilm, which is the tiny house movement. It has strong story elements built in with the characters and their backgrounds.”

Mountainfilm found its first fellow and launched the program soon after, thanks in part to support from the Kelly family, who split their time between Telluride and Midland, Texas, and were thrilled to be supporting both Mountainfilm and emerging artists.

Matt Maxwell & Maxwell FIlmworks, more:

The Texas native discovered a passion for photography in the dark room of his high school, and after pursuing photography in college, moved to Los Angeles with his wife to work in the entertainment industry.

Maxwell Filmworks is a production company based in West Texas – with Hollywood roots.

Filmmakers Matt and Katie Maxwell married in Texas in 2007, then left for Hollywood to pursue careers in the entertainment industry. Over the next four years, Matt worked as an assistant on ABC’s “Wipeout!” and for the award-winning production company, Kennedy/Marshall, (former Telluride locals), while crafting his cinematographic skills on the side with National Geographic, music videos and several short films.

Katie enjoyed working with talent and sports clients at a prominent agency, then combined her skills with a passion for education as the Operations and Marketing Manager for Communities In Schools of Los Angeles.

In 2012, Matt and Katie began a new adventure in Midland, Texas, launching Maxwell Filmworks. They now enjoy beautiful sunsets, delicious BBQ and much less traffic.

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