Jul 272011

By Barbara Goldman

Lexingtonians looking to raise their film IQ or perhaps tune into some fresh film chatter need not look any further than their radio dial. For shortly over a year now, WRFL has invited brave listeners everywhere to tune-in between ten and eleven A.M. to Surreelfilm, a local film show put on by local people.

The series began las spolt summer as the brain child of two of the show’s four hosts, Chris Ritter and Sam Burchett .

“We were both very cinematically curious. We found ourselves scouring movie blogs and talking about films constantly,” said Ritter. “We had the notion to share the experience.”

What began on a trial basis between the wee hours of 4-5 A.M. on Thursday nights quickly transformed into a hit show within three months and found its permanent slot on Monday mornings. Two additional hosts were added, and more and more reoccurring guests began to appear.

“We found four hosts is really the perfect number,” said Ritter about the addition of co-hosts Robert Kahne, and former station director Ainsley Wagoner. “It allows us to really discus the facts and bounce reactions off of each other. We all come from different backgrounds and interest with the idea that the show would be a sort of outlet. Film is something creatively that all of us have always gravitated towards.”

“We all have the radio bug from WRFL. It’s a bizarre medium that has such a high propensity of possibilities and allows us to be creative,“ said Ritter.

Ritter said he and his co-hosts were all surprised with the number of things going on in the Lexington film community, but that they felt not nearly enough people knew about them.

“We had no established film audience when we began. It was a pretty big risk because we talk about some very random things,” said Ritter, a former University of Kentucky student, who added that none of the hosts have training in film outside of interest and a few film classes. “The show came out of curiosity and wanting to talk about that experience.”

The hosts have discovered the show’s formula over time. Each week they review one to two films. The films selected are all chosen based on Lexington accessibility. Ritter said they prefer to pick films that listeners will be able to see in area cinemas, such as the historical downtown Kentucky Theatre. This means the show gravitates toward independent films, though it does not leave out bigger more well known blockbusters.

Surreelfilm is extending their mission even further and has recently partnered with the Lexington Film League and the Lexington Public Library for the original series “Classics Off the Beaten Path.” This re-occurring screening series takes place on Monday nights with the purpose of allowing listeners to watch forgotten or overlooked classic films.

The featured films are discussed during the 10 A.M. radio slot on 88.1 WRFL and then viewed for FREE at the downtown Lexington Public Library.

“The series may not be every week but it will be happening as much as possible. We are very excited to partner with the downtown Public Library,” said Ritter.

“We came up with the idea in about 72 hours,” said Ritter who credited film buff, and reoccurring Surreelfilm guest hostess, Lucy Jones, for the idea to screen the classics films. The new series premiered on Monday July 18th with the film Fat City, and was a hit.

“We were really pleased with the turnout,” said Ritter about the 30-35 people in attendance. “It was so much fun. We were really surprised and happy with the audience.”

Ritter said he was thrilled to see that many of the faces in the audience were strangers and new to film events in Lexington.

“This is the time when we really get to do what we first set out to do, and branch out to more listeners,” said Ritter.

Surreelfilm is continuing to extend that branch throughout the fall with an additional project partnering with the Lexington Film League and  BOOMSLANG Fest, a WRFL multi-venue music and arts festival.

Ritter was thrilled to announce that a special screening of a film will occur prior to the week of BOOMSLANG this fall. The film has not yet been selected, but the creators of the event are hoping to have the chosen film’s director at the screening for a question and answer following the showing at the Kentucky Theatre.

“Our show is not just people sitting in a booth talking. We really want to give back to the film community. That was the original intention of the show. If we can bring as many films to our city as possible, well there’s nothing better than that,” said Ritter.

If you can’t listen to the Monday morning show, have no fear, podcasts are available and easily accessible. They are also accessible through iTunes. The next installment of the Classics Off The Beaten Path is set for Monday, August 1. Area film-maker George Maranville will host the screening. Tune into Surreelfilm at 10 A.M. to learn the name of the film that will be shown.
For more information go to:www.surreelfilm.podbeam.com, www.boomslangfest.com or www.lexingtonfilmleague.org

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