Perennial timed film competitor James Thayer created the 54 Film Fest in the Summer of 2011. On February 3rd of 2012, the festival held its first inception meeting at Community Television headquarters in Knoxville, Tennessee, and the spontaneous movie making experience began! That night, 54 representatives assigned the first required line, action, and prop, and the teams drew their genres and started the creative process. Since that night, the 54 has networked thousands of movie makers and inspired hundreds of short films.
In the Fall of 2012, James Thayer met with Ben Jones, a 54 Film Fest team leader and lifelong Middle Tennessee resident, and they discussed bringing the festival to Murfreesboro. In March of 2013 after a short promotional period, the festival held its first event in Middle Tennessee when it screened ten timed films along with other selected works at the Wynnsong 16 in Murfreesboro. In the following March, the festival sold out two screening blocks as it grew to twenty-five films, which included nineteen timed films and six non-timed submissions. The 54 Film Fest Murfreesboro held its 2014 event at the Premiere 6, and Toot’s hosted a networking social after the screening and award ceremony.
In February of 2015, the 54 Film Fest expanded and held inception meetings at Franklin, Nashville, and Murfreesboro, and the festival re-branded itself as “54 Film Fest Middle Tennessee” to attract the broader Middle Tennessee market and expand networking opportunities for its movie makers. In 2015, the festival screened over forty-five films at the Hollywood 27 in Nashville.
The festival returned to the same inception and screening locations for 2016 and 2017. In 2016, the 54 Film Fest held a record-breaking screening when it showcased over fifty films. In 2017, the 54 screened over forty films, and Nashville Film Festival accepted and screened 54 Film Fest Middle Tennessee’s winning film “Wishful Thinking” as part of its Tennessee Shorts section. In 2018, the festival found a new home at the Malco Smyrna Cinema.
In 2019, James Thayer is passing the festival’s business torch from Seek First Productions to David Perault’s Break Away Story. James has been active in helping the 2019 production team succeed. While we will miss James’s leadership and guidance, we are excited about the future of the festival! If you are new to the 54 or an established member of the family, we are excited that you are here!