LEWISTON — Joshua Shea and Molly McGill look forward to the manic moments.
After a year of screening, planning, timing and scheduling, the organizers of the third annual Lewiston-Auburn Film Festival look forward to crowds.
“We’re ready for it,” McGill said.
Plans call for 71 movies to be shown in five venues over three days. There also will be a book signing, a gallery opening, several filmmaker Q&As, a concert and an awards gala.
“We are going to have bigger crowds,” Shea said. “We are going to have better films. We are going to have more marketing.”
Already, the festival has sold out Friday night’s world premiere of the documentary, “The Peloton Project” at the Franco-American Heritage Center in Lewiston. Tickets remain for all other events, including many for the $22, two-day movie pass. But they, too, are selling quickly.
McGill and the rest of the festival team, which includes about 60 volunteers, are hurrying to get the logistics into place.
“It’s the last-minute scramble,” she said. “It’s making sure everyone knows where they need to be.”
Ramsey Tripp, the director of the “The Peloton Project,” knows the scramble.
Since January, he has been working nonstop on his movie. And it’s not done, yet.
“I’ve been pretty much working seven days a week for the last three months,” Tripp said. On weekdays, he’s been leaving home in Auburn at 10 a.m. and returning about 10 p.m. or later.
“Lately, it’s been more like 11:30 or 12:30,” he said. “It’s also been 1:30 or 2.”
In January, the film received a donation of about $10,000 to add to the roughly $35,000 production. The money was enough to hire editors to help assemble the documentary about last fall’s cancer-fighting bicycle trek from Calgary to Lewiston.
Tripp figures he’ll be making changes to the film right up until his deadline of 5 p.m. Tuesday. The time crunch has prevented him from hosting test screenings before it goes up on the Franco center screen for all to see.
“It will be nerve-wracking,” he said.
Nervous filmmakers will be popping up at the festival’s venues — the Public Theatre, the Franco Center, the Lewiston and Auburn public libraries, Community Little Theatre and Free Grace Church. In all, 50 Q&As are scheduled with directors, producers, actors and cinematographers. McGill and Shea will serve as moderators.
“The films are so good, I’m really looking forward to asking questions,” Shea said. He is unsure which events he would steer people toward.
“I know how good these all are,” he said. “I don’t know how I’d choose.”
The weekend will also feature several appearances by Les Stroud, the creator and star of the TV show “Survivorman.”
Stroud will kick off the festival on Thursday evening with a book signing beginning at 5 p.m at the new Prose Gallery at 223 Lisbon St. The gallery’s inaugural show will feature photographs with Linda Bombier, who works with Stroud in his dropped-in-the-wilderness show.
On Saturday afternoon, Stroud will sit with Shea for a Q&A. That night, the filmmaker and musician is scheduled to be honored at the festival’s awards gala and perform a concert.
The gala, held at the Lewiston Ramada, will honor movies in six categories.
Among the nominees are New York drama “Things I Don’t Understand” and the documentary “My Father and the Man in Black.” In the latter, filmmaker Jonathan Holiff researched his late father, who had served as Johnny Cash’s manager.
“It asks and answers three questions: “Why did my dad kill himself?” Why did my dad not love me?” and “Why did my dad ever stop being Johnny Cash’s manager?” Shea said.
“Things I Don’t Understand” was among the more polished and professional-looking entries, Shea said.
Writer-Director David Spaltro plans to attend to soak in the atmosphere. Last summer, he took his movie to 33 cities, including many small festivals.
His drama is about a young woman who begins researching near-death experiences after her own experience.
“What I liked a lot was you got to see your film play with different kinds of audiences,” Spaltro said. “It’s fun to get out there and see people who are really passionate about film.”
There’s also a practical reason for touring, Spaltro said. He’s trying to build an audience.
“It’s kind of like taking (the movie) door to door,” he said.
Saturday’s schedule includes the three-hour, 11-movie student film festival, held at the Lewiston Public Library. It will also see the first of two screenings aimed at highlighting local message movies.
They are scheduled for 3 p.m. Saturday at the Lewiston Public Library and 1 p.m. Sunday at the Auburn Public Library. For $1, people can view Joel Osgood’s “Inspired to Explore,” which follows Lewiston and Auburn students as they go fishing on the Androscoggin River, hiking at the Riverlands State Park and camping at Acadia National Park.
Attendees may also see “Household” by Craig Saddlemire.
The filmmaker, who also serves on the Lewiston City Council, crafted a 90-minute documentary about four local families. All were very different, introducing race and sexual orientation.
“It was exploring the question of ‘What is a family?’” Saddlemire said.
They also became participants in the filmmaking. A member of each family helped document one of the other families.
“They’re learning about each other and me as well,” Saddlemire said.
For information on all of the festival’s films, other events and purchasing tickets, see lafilmfestival.org
Distributed by MCT Information Services