True/False Film Fest Photo Essay Series Part One: The Volunteers and Artists

By: Stephen Bybee | sbybee@newzgroup.com

The True/False documentary film festival began in Columbia, Missouri during the summer of 2003, utilizing three cinematic venues and drawing an estimated 3,000-4,000 moviegoers.  This year’s True/False Festival held screenings in eight venues spread across downtown Columbia and sold more than 51,000 tickets.  The Film Festival also encompasses many other areas of creativity, educational outreach, and community synergy, including artistic and filmmaking workshops for high school students, public art installations, music, game shows, filmmaker panels and discussions, and various fetes, celebrations, dances, and parties.

My own personal experience with True/False began in 2009 when I was encouraged to become a volunteer photographer for the Festival.  I have volunteered in the same capacity ever since then, missing only two years.  I was slightly hesitant this year because of the amount of work and dedication required from Festival volunteers, but at the end of my final volunteer shift late Saturday night, I was extremely satisfied that I had chosen to volunteer for yet another True/False Film Festival.

Because I have a long experience of volunteering as a photographer for True/False, I have some leeway to choose my assignments before the Festival begins.  One of my favorite groups to photograph each year is the group of artists, builders, and volunteers who design, create, and install the art and design pieces that are delivered to each of the screening venues days before the festival begins.  This first group of images focuses on that group of artists and volunteers, and on the works, they create to provide a provocative visual backdrop to the True/False Film Festival.

Stephen Bybee

True/False Volunteer Photographer

True False artist Don Jourdan demonstrates the proper way to tune his artistic creation, Hell's Bells. (Photo by Stephen Bybee)

True False artist Don Jourdan demonstrates the proper way to tune his artistic creation, Hell’s Bells. (Photo by Stephen Bybee)

Freshly etched bracelets ready for the T/F Merch table. (Photo by Stephen Bybee)

Freshly etched bracelets ready for the T/F Merch table. (Photo by Stephen Bybee)

An art installation ready to be delivered at the T/F Lab. (Photo by Stephen Bybee)

An art installation ready to be delivered at the T/F Lab. (Photo by Stephen Bybee)

Volunteer Grace Urban paints lumber as other volunteers work in the background at the Lab. (Photo by Stephen Bybee)

Volunteer Grace Urban paints lumber as other volunteers work in the background at the Lab. (Photo by Stephen Bybee)

A strange, wonderful, inspired vision has transformed the former Parker Funeral Home into a party spot for the 2018 True/False Film Festival. (Photo by Stephen Bybee)

A strange, wonderful, inspired vision has transformed the former Parker Funeral Home into a party spot for the 2018 True/False Film Festival. (Photo by Stephen Bybee)

A True/False installation volunteer constructs riser platforms at the Forrest Theatre for the 2018 T/F Film Festival. (Photo by Stephen Bybee)

A True/False installation volunteer constructs riser platforms at the Forrest Theatre for the 2018 T/F Film Festival. (Photo by Stephen Bybee)

Build Team leader Ben Falby directs volunteers at the T/F Lab. (Photo by Stephen Bybee)

Build Team leader Ben Falby directs volunteers at the T/F Lab. (Photo by Stephen Bybee)

Volunteers at the Lab learn about Michael Marcum's engraving process. (Photo by Stephen Bybee)

Volunteers at the Lab learn about Michael Marcum’s engraving process. (Photo by Stephen Bybee)

Artist Michael Marcum ponders his new tree sculpture for T/F 2018. (Photo by Stephen Bybee)

Artist Michael Marcum ponders his new tree sculpture for T/F 2018. (Photo by Stephen Bybee)

Volunteers Jessica Weiss and John Nichols build a set of steps at the Lab. (Photo by Stephen Bybee)

Volunteers Jessica Weiss and John Nichols build a set of steps at the Lab. (Photo by Stephen Bybee)

Jamie Kroll carries in a textile from Tracy Rice's car at the T/F Lab. (Photo by Stephen Bybee)

Jamie Kroll carries in a textile from Tracy Rice’s car at the T/F Lab. (Photo by Stephen Bybee)