Egofest…The Best of the Midwest…And More by King Is A Fink


On March 18th we headed up to Brainerd, MN, for the 2nd year in a row to Phil Holbrook’s Egofest Short Film Festival. Last year we made the 10-hr trip mostly to meet Phil, whom we’d recently agreed to write TILT for.

Man, has a lot changed since then! Now TILT is in post-production, and we made this year’s Egofest trek to see people who now feel like old friends (Phil, cinematographer/ editor Jeremy Doyle, our Brainerd-based friends, and some of our Twitter compadres).

Here’s how the trip went down:


Way Too Early O’Clock! Left the Kfink house to pick up road trip cookies from our good friend, TILT backer and Mixin’ Vixen Beth Marrier. She gave us a huge box of sugar cookies that stayed fresh and moist for the whole trip and only got better as the weekend went on. We think there was some magic in them.

Car Knitter – Kelly Johnson

Ten Minutes Later: Picked up our Egofest road trip buddies, Jim Vendiola and Kelly Johnson. Jim and Kelly, also TILTtheTown-ers, were headed north, because Jim’s film DRIFT was an official Egofest selection. Kelly brought her knitting and 3 weeks worth of groceries, which was just enough to sustain us during our 20 hours total in the car. Jim provided the tunes. Yes – we did a lot of dancing with our mouths full on this trip.

Jeremy Wilker on stage at Egofest Q & A with Julie Keck and Jessica King

Hello, Brainerd! We settled into our free hotel room (thank you, Egofest sponsor AmericInn Baxter!), grabbed some sandwiches, then headed over to Central Lakes College’s brand-spankin’ new Chalberg Theater to see Phil and the other early Egofest-ers.

Hug it Out! As soon as we showed up, we were asked to do an interview for a local news show, but we couldn’t start before tackling Year Without Rent-er Lucas McNelly, A MUSING Producer Phil Seneker, Flyway Film Festival Director (and our constant Kfink traveling companion) Rick Vaicius, and our buddy Jake Stetler, who was in town with his trailer for NO SANCTUARY.

On with the show! After some brief opening remarks, MJ Slide’s THE SAVING started off the Egofest program with a bang. Although we’d seen it before, it was nice to see it on the big screen and to hear music man Nathan Schilz’s voice through the gi-normous speakers. Go, MJ!

Fake Kfink Egofest Awards, Part #1:

Best Use of Citrus: Phil Seneker’s MISSING ELIZABETH. Beautifully shot, hauntingly beautiful.

John T. Trigonis during Egofest Skype Q & A

Best Use of Wii: John T. Trigonis’ CERISE. John joined the Egofest-ers via Skype for a live Q&A. Hope he felt the love from the audience.

The “Don’t Drink & Run” Award: WAY TO GO, CHRISTINE! by Mark Thimijan won over a large portion of the audience with his creative cutting and vapid yet endearing main character. TILT fans chose Mark’s BARSTOOL COWBOY as one of the winners of our TILT “Indie Movie Cameo” contest last summer.

Best Short Set in a Car: FRIDAY NIGHT by Stephen Gurewitz had Julie on the edge of her seat. No, it was not a thriller; yes, it still scared her.

Most Punny Title: A MUSING by Phil Seneker & David Spies. David Spies couldn’t make it to Egofest, but it was great finally meeting Phil Sekeker in person and hearing his Q&A. We also spied our friend Wonder Russell in A MUSING!

TILT at EGOFEST: Also shown on Day #1 were 3 scenes from the rough cut of TILT. Were we nervous? Yes. Were we freaked out by all of the spoilers that were projected onto the big screen? Yep. Was it worth it? Totally. Our hats are off to Jeremy Doyle for all of the tedious editing work he’s doing right now. We can’t wait to see the next cut.

TILT Lead – Wade Dienert

TILT the Turnout:
We were overwhelmed with the turnout of TILT friends and fans. Lead actor Wade Dienert drove in from North Dakota; his co-star Dani West flew in from Florida. Also in attendance were: cast members David Vieths and Tara Giese; extras Lizzie Buscher, Ralph Knowlton, Sam Sheehan, and Kyle Kruchten; TILT crew members, including photographer Mari Kivisto; and TILT supporters, including Lisa Jordan, Nate Phillipps, the Bradshaws, the Engisch- Morris’, the Borkenhagens, Matt Taylor, and Mike Amick.

After Party #1: The first night of Egofest concluded at Matt Taylor’s E Squared Cafe. Dan and Jesse from Brainerd Lake Beer unleashed their TILTed T-Ale, much to the approval of the (apparently) very thirsty crowd. The bottle was beautiful; its contents, tasty. High five to the lucky folks who got to try it.


On the second day we woke up, grabbed breakfast with Jim and Kelly, and then headed over to the Chalberg for a full day of shorts. We missed the first block of films, but heard great things about BISNIETA, a doc by Chicago-based filmmaker Mario Contreras, and PHOTOS & DRAWINGS by Jon Maichel Thomas.

Fake Kfink Egofest Awards, Part #2:

Best Animated Short: MARKOV, an animated short by our friend Thomas Bertin

Best Revenge Short: DIVORCEES by Michael Nirenberg, who also won Egofest’s Best Set Design award

The “Dudes We Totally Used to Date” Award: Tie: MODEL/PHOTOGRAPHER and I F*CKING HATE YOU, both by Zak Forsman. Forsman has a way of creating male characters that we wanna slap some sense into and hug at the same time. In addition to our fake award, IFHY swept many of the real Egofest Awards, including Best Actor,
Best Actress, and Best Director.

The “I Miss Kim Cattrall” Award: Jennifer Peepas & Dave Feiferis’ THE WARDROBE. Jennifer and Dave made this mannequin-stuffed anti-fairy tale while students at Columbia in Chicago. Holy high production value, Batman!

The “Doc That Made Jess Want to Be a Girl Who Plays With Fire” Award: GLASSMAKER by Mario Contreras. We dare you to watch this and not want to play with molten glass.

The “Movie that Made Julie Piddle a Little” Award: ALONE by 14-yr-old Ethan Seneker. He had her at “nighttime power outage;” he GOT her with “scary flash of scary scary lady.” Ethan won a couple of Egofest Awards, including Best Horror.

TILT DP/Editor – Jeremy Doyle

The “Proof That We’re Really Lazy” Award: Jeremy Wilker’s MY NAME IS MCNAMARA. This doc about octogenarian speed skaters made us stop complaining that our butts were asleep from watching movies all day. We were proud to share a live Q&A session with Jeremy; he talked about about speedy grandpas; we can’t remember what we talked about – hopefully Lucas McNelly still has the video.

The “Hey, That’s OUR Movie” Award: Three-way tie: Our Kinky Cutie WIGGLE ROOM; the TILT short BETTY (which we wrote and Jess edited); the TILT clips.

DRIFT Director – Jim Vendiola

The “Movie We Most Want to Crawl Into / Take a Platonic Nap With” Award: Jim Vendiola’s DRIFT. We were very happy to see Jim’s movie on the big screen again (we’d seen it once at his Chicago screening), and the quirky music sounded even better in the Chalberg Theater. Yes, we’re biased: Jess helped out on Jim’s set, but that doesn’t negate the fact that DRIFT was one of the best movies at Egofest.

After Party #2: After the real Egofest awards ceremony, much of the audience headed back to the E Squared for a second night of talking flicks and tilting TILTed T-Ale.


We’re not gonna lie: We didn’t sleep well in Brainerd – maybe because we were so close to the North Pole – so by the third day, we were bushed.

Good Food, Goodbyes: We met a great group of friends for breakfast, had coffee with our friend Jessica Woudsma (ladyfriend of Brainerd-based WIGGLE ROOM music maker Steven McKnight), and then dined with Jim, Kelly, Phil H, Lucas, and Tara. It was a nice, chill ending to a film- and people-packed weekend. The next day we drove home. Big thanks to Kelly and Jim for keeping us awake on the road!

What’s our next adventure?
We’re not sure yet. But in April we’re staying in chicago for these two exciting events.

Monday, April 18th = the LIVE taping of “Who Knows Her Better,” a game show we’re helping Tello Films with, hosted by Elizabeth Keener (of “The L Word”) Details here.

Friday, April 29 = the Chicago preview screening of “A Second Knock at the Door,” a documentary by Chicago-based filmmaker Christopher Grimes about friendly fire. We’re consulting on this project, and Jess is Chris’ co-writer. More info here: Join us if you’re around…or if you need an excuse for your own weekend road trip.

More about this Film Courage guest blogger:

Julie Keck and Jessica King, who work and play together as King is a Fink, write and direct movies with small budgets and big stories that are at once familiar, uncomfortable, demented, and exhilarating.  They don’t mind getting a little dark, and they don’t mind getting a little dirty; this is what makes their movies so fun. The ladies of King is a Fink like making shorts, love writing features, and take special delight in causing social media mayhem. Keep up with their antics on Twitter (@kingisafink), Facebook (, or on their website (