It’s not every day that you sit down to lunch with a couple of screenwriters, a 12-year-old piano prodigy and a special effects/makeup artist, but that’s what I did recently. My friend, local author and attorney, Beth Bollinger, had invited me to the monthly meeting of kNIFVES.
“Will I have to throw them?” I asked.
“No,” she replied.
In fact, the name has nothing to do with cutlery. kNIFVES stands for Northwest Independent Film and Video Entertainment Society. The ‘k’ used to stand for Kootenai, but the organization quickly outgrew its North Idaho roots and now encompasses Eastern Washington, as well.
Producer, writer and director W.J. Lazerus founded the group in 2006. “I was line producer on a movie that was shot up here,” he said. “I discovered there were incredible, amazingly talented people here, but they all lived on different lakes in Idaho and never saw each other!”
So, he invited film industry folks to meet for lunch at a local restaurant. “Four of us met,” he said. “The next month the group doubled to eight. The following month we doubled again.”
The organization grew to 80 in less than a year, drawing the attention of the Idaho Film Commission and other regional organizations. Lazerus said, “People were hungry for that connection.”
Currently, the group boasts more than 100 members from all facets of the entertainment industry. “Arts and entertainment growth is huge – even in this economy,” said Lazerus
The website states “kNIFVES is dedicated to providing an open forum to all Inland Northwest film, video and live entertainment professionals, amateurs and enthusiasts to promote knowledge, education, training and networking.”
At the March meeting, members shared the status of several projects, including an upcoming PSA in a Day Workshop. Participants will create a public service announcement about spousal abuse for the Post Falls Police Department.
I chatted with composer Gary Edwards. “I’m working on a two-hour theatrical musical called ‘Karaoke Nights,’ ” he said. “I’m going to pitch it as a TV series.”
He got the idea from time spent at the Sunset Bowling Center in Coeur d’Alene. “But the characters are fictional!” he said, chuckling.
Edwards had invited 12-year-old Val Wold and his mother Luba Wold as his guests. Val shook my hand, “I’m a piano prodigy,” he said. “I started performing when I was 7.”
The self-assured preteen has performed 125 concerts across the U.S., including a recent concert at the Kroc Center in Coeur d’Alene, where he played a concerto composed for him by Edwards. “What’s the name of the concerto?” I asked the composer.
He paused, and then grinned. “Piano Concerto No. 1.”
These entertainment folks are quick.
I also met first time kNIFVES visitor Erik Satren, 20. The makeup/special effects artist said, “I’ve had some film experience in Hollywood.” He recently returned to the area and came to the meeting to network and find out what’s going on in the industry. Satren glanced around the packed room. “There’s a great community here.”
Other first-time visitors included an international talent scout, a professional singer/dancer/actor and a recent University of Idaho grad, looking to use his music composition degree.
He came to the right place. The guest speaker, Bill Byrne, is an award-winning composer and producer. The CEO of Bing Bang Boom!, a music and sound-design company, wowed us with clips of his work. From 1997 through 2008, Byrne created the network image and music campaigns for CBS.
Throughout the afternoon I tried to follow the industry lingo. I learned that being an “amazing shooter” has nothing to do with marksmanship and everything to do with cinematography and a “gaffer” has something to do with electricity. I’m still not sure what the “grip” department is for but I know it has something to do with “rigging.” No. I don’t know what rigging is, but it sounds awfully important.
I left the meeting amazed by the talented, knowledgeable show-biz people we have here. kNIFVES may be a quirky name, but it fits the group. After all, their goal is to stay on the cutting edge of the entertainment industry.