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Dr. Spencer Johnson, CEO and founder of RIFE and CEO and executive producer of Skyrocket Productions LLC.

Five years ago Skyrocket Productions LLC began its annual, Reel Independent Film Extravaganza (RIFE), a weeklong film festival “created by filmmakers for filmmakers.” This year RIFE, scheduled for Oct. 10 – 16 at West End Cinema are various locations around the District, will include on Oct. 12 the first IndeCapitol Awards.

RIFE is collaborating with IndeCapitol, an entertainment hub that provides news and updates on D.C. area independent films, to host the awards ceremony. The event, to be held at the Angelika Film Center in Fairfax, Va., will recognize filmmakers from Virginia, Maryland, and D.C. in 18 categories judged by the Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association. RIFE will also present its own categories of awards during this event.

“For the first time, we will have what equates to a local Oscars event for independent filmmakers, where they can be recognized by their peers, families and fans in an official way,” said Dr. Spencer Johnson, CEO and founder of RIFE and CEO and executive producer of Skyrocket Productions LLC.

Johnson, a Baltimore native, is a board certified psychiatrist practicing in Maryland and D.C. He developed an interest in filmmaking when he was five years old. “When I tell people that I’m a doctor and a filmmaker, it generates conversation,” Johnson said. “They’re amazed because doctors are not usually seen as terribly creative people. Doctors are kind of pigeonholed.”

Filmmaking and psychiatry, according to Johnson, are not as different as most people would think. “It’s all about people edification,” Johnson said. “Film and psychiatry are both about helping people feel comfortable in their own skin and bringing the best out of them.”

Anthony Greene, producer at Skyrocket Productions LLC.

Johnson founded Skyrocket Productions LLC, a Black-owned independent film and television production and distribution company, with two other film enthusiasts after the start of his psychiatry career. “My artistic passion is the making of movies and having this film festival,” Johnson said. “My ministry, the reason why God put me here, is for psychiatry.”

This year the “People’s Film Festival,” will feature even more independently-produced local films than in previous years in addition to domestic and international independent films, according to an event press release. “We are advocating the uplifting and notoriety of our area’s filmmakers as well as maintaining a great program selection for fans of films around the country and the world,” said Anthony Greene, producer at Skyrocket Productions and for the film festival.

Greene, a native-Washingtonian, said he is excited to show even more local films during this year’s festival. “The audience can expect great films that span many genres and opportunities to meet and appreciate the creators behind the content,” he said.

Greene has been working in the film industry for seven years and said he always had a deep love and respect for cinema, in particular foreign, independent, and art house films. “I’m most passionate about the connection between the audience and the storytelling,” Greene said. “There’s a special magic present in the experience of escaping into someone else’s thoughts and ideas. Film has a definitive power that can bring all kinds of people, cultures, and ideals together.”

For more information or to purchase tickets for the festival, visit http://www.reelindependentfilm.com/.