MISSOULA — Pop Up Film Festivals, or PUFF, as creator Jim Ereaux calls them, support small, local businesses by delivering a wide variety of short films to hosting venues.
Once or so a month, locals file into a small business like the Good Coffee Roasting Company, and just as if they were at the theater, they load up on snacks and drinks, find a seat, and get comfy.
“It’s almost like a treasure hunt, people want to know where the next film festival is going to be," Ereaux said.
By hosting the events at local businesses, Ereaux is changing the dynamic of film festivals -- and at no cost to the audience or filmmakers, a dozen or so short films from around the world make their Montana debut.
Ereaux explained this is an opportunity for filmmakers with low budgets to show their work and get feedback, something he said is difficult in such a competitive industry.
“We’re not going to ask the filmmakers to pay to submit their films, we’re not going to charge the audience, instead of having a couple of judges, we’re going to let the audience do it," he said.
Oftentimes the films present foreign and thought-provoking concepts, so when the lights go up, members of the audience have the chance to discuss, ask questions, and rate the films.
PUFF is leaving its mark on local businesses too. When co-owners of the Good Coffee Roasting Company John and Celeste Russell host, they see more people coming through the doors and they often end up extending their hours.
“A lot of people are coming that wouldn’t normally come to our shop because not everybody likes coffee, but everybody likes film," John said.
From behind the counter they see community members with different backgrounds and interests meeting for the first time and engaging with one another -- a testament to the impact PUFF is making on the community.
Your next chance to see a Pop Up Film Festival in action is on Dec. 5 at the Grey Leaf Gallery in Ronan. Starting in January, Imagination Brewing in Missoula will also host PUFF the first Sunday of every month.