5 questions with Michael D. DeVous Jr.
Michael D. DeVous Jr. is the press and publicity coordinator for AFI Dallas International Film Festival. DeVous works in the entertainment industry with film production, film festival public relations and special nonprofit events management. He is single and lives east of the White Rock area with his dogs and cats. AFI continues through Thursday, April 2.
What is AFI Dallas?
AFI Dallas, which started in 2007, is the sister festival to the original American Film Institutes L.A. Festival. It is an offshoot of the now-defunct Deep Ellum Film Festival. It was the brainchild of the wonderful Michael Cain, who started Arts Fighting Cancer to help people pay the bills while undergoing treatment.
How did you become involved with AFI Dallas?
I started with Deep Ellum and Michael Cain and his wife, Melina Mckinnon, years ago in 2001. I started out as a volunteer then moved into venue management and finally event production.
Tell me about the education panels occurring during the festival.
Panels are a gathering of film professionals, from directors to distributors to educators, who discuss specific topics of interest. This is one of the coolest talks: "From Backyard to Academy Award: What does ‘Slumdog Millionaire’s’ success mean for independent filmmakers?" It’s at Victory Park Lounge on Monday, March 30 at 5:30 p.m. "Slumdog Millionaire" was, by many accounts, headed for the "straight to DVD" shelves until Fox Searchlight took it off the hands of Warner Bros. Now history will simply refer to it as the best film of the year.
Besides the education panels, how can people become involved with the festival?
There are many ways. One can volunteer by going online to www.afidallas.com. You can also buy a ticket and see a film. That’s the best way to see what we are all about. If you fancy spotting celebs come out to NorthPark Center and watch the red carpets.
Why do you keep doing this crazy job?
Glad you asked. I have been incredibly blessed to hang around with some outstanding talent and I am not just speaking of the folks at AFI Dallas. Sure, there celebrities like Robert Redford, Will Smith, Owen Wilson and Meryl Streep whom I have had the pleasure of meeting. But more than that, I get to talk with, hang out with and share stories with some of the world’s most up-and-coming filmmakers. I get to learn first hand how they pulled off their dreams and made this cinematic world a richer, more interesting place to be. And I get to do it two or three times a year!
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This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition March 27, 2009.