By Mark Metcalf Special to Published Oct 18, 2008 at 5:35 AM

Bayside resident Mark Metcalf is an actor who has worked in movies, TV and on the stage. He is best known for his work in "Animal House," "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and "Seinfeld."

In addition to his work on screen, Metcalf is involved with the Milwaukee International Film Festival, First Stage Children's Theater and a number of other projects.

He also finds time to write about movies for

The newly formed Milwaukee Film presents "The Milwaukee Show" at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 23 at the Oriental Theatre, 2230 N. Farwell Ave.

This is the first of several events designed to serve as a run-up to what will be a revamped international film festival in Milwaukee in September 2009.

I've worked with the staff of this new festival for five years. They are the same people who built the old, now defunct film festival in Milwaukee. They now have a new board of directors, many of whom I also know and have worked with in the past. I understand their commitment and their passion and I think the 2009 film festival -- they are still searching for a name, for a brand -- will be the best, smartest, most diverse and fun festival in the Midwest.

The organization wants to celebrate film, diversity, unity and Milwaukee. "The Milwaukee Show," as the name implies, will showcase Milwaukee filmmakers. An independent panel of judges chose from more than 70 submissions. (Two films that I acted in were not chosen, so the ones left standing must be really good.)

Emily Downes, a senior last year at Brookfield Central High School, wrote "The Waiting Room," which is one of the films that will be a central focus of the evening. She was the winner of a competition that Collaborative Cinema runs in partnership with Milwaukee Film. It is called "Student & Filmmaker -- From Script to Screen."

We ask Milwaukee area high school students to write a one-page idea for a short film. We then pick the best 50 ideas and bring those students together with professional screenwriters and filmmakers for a six-hour workshop and teach them how to write a screenplay. After the students have gone away and used what they have learned, we bring them back for another workshop to teach them about re-writing and about how film is a collaborative art form with input from lots of different people.

In other words, we put them together with a director and a producer and emphasize cooperation. We then choose the best screenplay and we make a film.

Tate Bunker, who has won many awards for his films at various festivals around the country, directed "The Waiting Room," which stars Richard Halverson, from The Rep, and Jonathan West, the former Artistic Director of Bialystock & Bloom, one of the edgier theatre companies in Milwaukee. Alyssa Ludwig, who at the time was a senior at Milwaukee High School For the Arts and is now at Emerson College in Boston, plays the lead.

The crew for "The Waiting Room" represented some of the most talented crafts people in Milwaukee. They all gave their time and their talents to see that Emily got the full experience of what it is like to make a film. They also mentored seven other high school students in the various crafts of filmmaking.

The set for "The Waiting Room" was a very nice place to be. The feeling of collaboration, collective experience, cooperation, focus and determination by a large group of adults and students to create a substantial work in the short film format was impressive.

Collaborative Cinema: Student & Filmmaker -- "From Script to Screen" has already started soliciting ideas for the 2009 program. If you are a high school student, or know one, you can e-mail your idea to

Alternatively, you can submit to Milwaukee Film, ATT: Collaborative Cinema, 301 East Reservoir, Milwaukee, WI 53212. If you have questions you can call 414 755 1965. The deadline is December 16, 2008.

Ten films ranging from three minutes to 17 minutes long will be part of "The Milwaukee Show." With titles from "Zombie Killer" to "To Write on Burning Paper," it promises to be a memorable evening. There will be an Audience Award and a Jury Award. The Jury Award carries a prize package valued at $20,000 to enable the winner to make their next film. The Audience Award is, obviously, chosen by ... the audience.

It is primarily at film festivals or evenings like this that filmmakers have a chance to come together and see each other's work on a big screen with a house full of people. The Oriental seats around 1,000. That's a pretty full house.

Each of the past four years at the old festival, when they would do the Milwaukee Filmmaker's Showcase, a night similar to "The Milwaukee Show," the house was almost completely sold out.

Any film becomes a different experience when you see it on a big screen in a room full of people. Most of us grew up watching movies this way. It's the way most movies were imagined by their creators. It becomes a community experience.

That is exactly why Milwaukee Film wanted to begin its existence with a night celebrating Milwaukee filmmakers -- not only to recognize the tremendous talent that chooses to live and work right here in Milwaukee, but to bring the community together so that we can celebrate ourselves.

Mark Metcalf Special to

Mark Metcalf is an actor and owner of Libby Montana restaurant in Mequon. Still active in Milwaukee theater, he's best known for his roles as Neidermeyer in "Animal House" and as The Maestro on "Seinfeld."

Originally from New Jersey, Metcalf now lives in Bayside.