Flyway Volunteers of the Year!

What’s fun about volunteering for the Flyway Film Festival?

Moua and Thomas

Sarah Moua and Macy Thomas

“The gathering of great people,” says Tim Nomeland, one of three winners of the 2014 Flyway “Volunteers of the Year” award. “I always leave Flyway enlightened, happy, and five pounds heavier from all the amazing food — despite my attempts to dance it off.”

Nomeland is a familiar face at the Flyway Film Festival: he’s volunteered every year since 2009. Sarah Moua and Macy Thomas, both students at the University of Wisconsin-Stout, also received the 2014 Volunteer of the Year award. Winners were selected by patron and staff nomination for their outstanding attitudes, commitment, and customer service during the 2014 festival.

Volunteer activities range from ticket sales to film projection to crowd-wrangling. According to Diana Vaicius, Operations Manager for the annual event, it’s the volunteers who really make or break the atmosphere of a festival.

Tim Nomeland

Tim Nomeland

“Film-goers are an engaged, enthusiastic, and demanding bunch,” says Vaicius, “and the presence of friendly, well-informed volunteers is crucial. We’ve been lucky to have such a wonderful group of volunteers each year.”

Sarah Moua, who has volunteered for the past two years, says she does it because she likes meeting film people and learning what they’re working on. “And it’s a blast being at the after-parties and seeing everyone get loose,” she adds.

Information about volunteering for the 2015 Flyway Film Festival will be available soon on this website, or contact Diana Vaicius at

Flyway announces new 2015 Seed&Spark short film competition

Flyway announces new 2015 Seed&Spark short film competition

Seed&Spark, a cutting-edge crowdfunding and digital distribution platform for independent film, will select and award the top two short films at the 2015 Flyway Film Festival in Wisconsin. The two winners will be picked from the top five short films accepted for inclusion in the festival, chosen in collaboration with a panel of Flyway jurors.

In addition to the prestigious “Flyway Ax,” a stone sculpture presented to all award-winners at the annual film festival, the winning filmmakers will receive:

  • $500 toward their next Seed&Spark crowdfunding campaigns (on campaigns of $7500 or more).
  • Individual crowdfunding and audience-building consultation with Seed&Spark experts.
  • Eligibility to distribute with Seed&Spark’s major media partners.
  • Transportation and lodging for the winning filmmakers to attend the 2015 Flyway Film Festival.
Seed&Spark's Erica Anderson with keynote speaker Nick Gonda at the 2014 Flyway opening night gala

Seed&Spark’s Erica Anderson with keynote speaker Nick Gonda at the 2014 Flyway opening night gala

In addition, Seed&Spark will create a Flyway channel on the Seed&Spark website to stream the top five short films, offering the films to thousands of viewers.

To submit a film for consideration, click here.

Rick Vaicius, executive director of the Flyway Film Festival, is enthusiastic about collaborating with Seed&Spark. “They’re a major new force in the independent film world,” says Vaicius. “We’re excited that they’re giving an extra hand to the up-and-coming filmmakers we bring to the Flyway.”

Seed&Spark has played a role at the Flyway Film Festival for the past two years: the company’s founder, Emily Best, was the keynote speaker in 2013, and Seed&Spark crowdfunding director Erica Anderson held a sold-out workshop at the Flyway in 2014.

“Flyway is an American gem of a festival,” says Seed&Spark’s Emily Best, “with exceptional, interesting programming and the chance to really meet, be together, watch films, and learn from each other. We’re thrilled to be able to present the Flyway Ax as a part of a slate of excellent shorts we cannot wait to find, promote, and distribute.”

All short films, both documentary and narrative, are eligible for the Seed&Spark award. Film submissions will be accepted until June 15, 2015 at

About the Flyway Film Festival

The eighth annual Flyway Film Festival runs October 21-25, 2015 in Pepin, Stockholm, and Maiden Rock, Wisconsin, with additional dates to be announced in Red Wing, Minnesota. Over 50 national and international independent films will be shown in four venues, with many filmmakers and industry professionals in attendance to interact with audiences via Q&A and networking events.

The festival venues are approximately a 60-minute drive from Rochester, Minnesota or Eau Claire, Wisconsin and 85 minutes from the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.

For more information, please visit or contact Rick Vaicius at (855) 800-8008 / / Facebook: Flyway Film Festival / Twitter: @flywayfilmfest.

About Seed&Spark

Seed&Spark is building a truly independent filmmaking community where filmmakers and audiences come together for crowdfunding, production, and streaming distribution. Every time an audience member supports the making of a moving picture project (funding, following, sharing) they earn “Sparks” which can be redeemed to watch movies on the streaming platform. Supporting films lets you watch more films: It’s the new ecosystem for filmmakers & audiences!

More Information:

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Who took home the Flyway Axes this year?

Who took home the Flyway Axes this year?


David Culver’s sculpture “Queen Ellen” at the A\Word Gallery in Hyattsville, MD

At the very first Flyway Film Festival in 2008, actor/director Bill Elverman appeared in two short horror films and was killed by an ax murderer in both of them. Elverman won the Minnesota/Wisconsin Showcase for one of those shorts, The Wintress. The award he took home was a small, etched glass rectangle – the kind of award that might be given for 25 years of corporate service.

It happened that there was a sculptor in the audience: David Culver of Bay City, Wisconsin. When he saw the underwhelming token given to the 2008 awardees, he sidled up to Flyway director Rick Vaicius and said, “You know, I could make something a little more impressive than that.”

It was a short trip from there to the ax. Culver, who worked as a lumberjack, sawyer and stonemason before becoming nationally recognized for his sculpture and painting, thought the ax would evoke both the rural environs of the Flyway and the unfortunate fate of Elverman’s characters. And so it became tradition.

Of the many talented and deserving filmmakers who screened their work at the Flyway this year, these awardees took home the weighty sculptures:

Matt Gamble and Andrew James announce the first Flyway Keystroke Award winner, Bradley King

Matt Gamble and Andrew James announce the first Flyway Keystroke Award winner, Bradley King

Best Documentary: E-TEAM by Katy Chevigny and Ross Kauffman (now screening on Netflix).

Best Narrative: TWO STEP by Alex R. Johnson.

Best Shorts: HIS NEW HANDS by Suds Saria and JANE, THEN GONE by Jamie Carroll.

Minnesota/Wisconsin Showcase: BEYOND THE DIVIDE by Jan Selby.

The Keystroke Award, a newly established award given by regional film bloggers, went to Bradley King for TIME LAPSE.

Jan Selby receives the MN / WI Showcase Award for "Beyond the Divide"

Jan Selby receives the MN / WI Showcase Award for “Beyond the Divide”

Breakout Filmmaker: Josephine Decker, whose films BUTTER ON THE LATCH and THOU WAS MILD AND LOVELY both screened at Flyway this year.

The Flyway Spirit Award went to Seed&Spark for its inspiration and support of independent filmmakers.

Champions of Flyway Awards went to Derick and Julianne Dahlen of Villa Bellezza, Linda and David Brassfield of Lake Pepin Real Estate, and John and Val Becker of Red Wing Framing & Fine Art Printing. These people have supported and championed the Flyway throughout the region for years. In addition, the Flyway Spirit Award was renamed the “Linda and David Brassfield Flyway Spirit Award.”

Congratulations to all!


New York Times bestselling author Theresa Weir to judge Wisconsin/Minnesota Showcase films at Flyway

WeirFrasierpubshot2012(1)New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Theresa Weir will join the panel of jurors selecting the award-winning films at the 2014 Flyway Film Festival, which runs October 23-26 in Pepin and Stockholm, Wisconsin.

Weir, a long-time independent film aficionado, lives in northern Wisconsin. She is the author of twenty-five books and numerous short stories that have spanned the genres of suspense, mystery, thriller, romantic suspense, paranormal, fantasy, and memoir.  During her award-winning career, she’s written for Penguin Putnam, Simon & Schuster, HarperCollins Publishers, Bantam Books/Random House, and many more. Her titles have been translated into twenty languages.

Her first memoir, The Orchard, was a 2011 Oprah Magazine Fall Pick, Number Two on the Indie Next list, a featured B+ review in Entertainment Weekly, and a Librarians’ Best Books of 2011. Her second memoir (The Man Who Left, 2012), hit the New York Times bestseller list.

Flyway Executive Director Rick Vaicius will announce the film award winners at the Kickoff Gala on Thursday, October 23. Award categories include Narrative and Documentary short and feature; Wisconsin/Minnesota Showcase; the “Flyway Spirit” award; and special jury awards.

Along with Weir, the award jurors are Crystal Hegge, director of the Frozen River Film Festival; film critic and curator Matt Gamble; cinephile writers Kathie Smith and Peter Schilling of the Trylon Microcinema and the film website Joyless Creatures; writer/director Kim Garland; and film and theater artist David W. Potter.

Nationally-acclaimed Wisconsin sculptor David Culver created the award sculptures: stone axe heads that present an annual challenge to the winning filmmakers on how to get their awards through airport security.

2013 Flyway Axe winners Fred Thornton and Jeremy Wilker taste the victory

2013 Flyway Axe winners Fred Thornton and Jeremy Wilker taste the victory

Producer/Entrepreneur Nick Gonda to Speak at Flyway Kickoff Gala

tugg logoNicolas Gonda, who was recently named one of Variety’s “10 Producers to Watch,” Details Magazine’s “Digital Mavericks,” and Indiewire’s “Influencers,” will provide the keynote address at the Flyway’s Kickoff Gala on Thursday, October 23rd. Gonda co-founded Tugg, Inc., a rapidly-expanding web platform that enables audiences to choose the films that play in their local theaters.Nicholas Gonda, Shot by Daniel Bergeron

Gonda began his film career at Focus Features in New York City, working on the publicity, marketing, and worldwide distribution of a number of Academy Award® winning films such as THE PIANIST and ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND. In 2005, he joined the production of Terrence Malick’s THE NEW WORLD, and he went on to work with Malick as co-producer of THE TREE OF LIFE, Oscar™ nominee for Best Picture and winner of the Palme d’Or at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival, and producer of TO THE WONDER.

“Nick Gonda represents what the Flyway is all about: getting good films by independent filmmakers to audiences everywhere,” says Flyway Executive Director Rick Vaicius. “Our local audience will be excited to learn about Tugg as a way to bring more movies to this area, since we’re in a bit of a film desert in Western Wisconsin. Except for the new Flyway Minema, of course,” he adds. The Minema is a 40-seat microcinema in Pepin, recently started by Vaicius and his wife Diana.

Gonda continues to produce a number of projects with Malick, including A.J. Edwards’ directorial debut THE BETTER ANGELS, starring Diane Kruger, Jason Clarke and Brit Marling. THE BETTER ANGELS premiered at Sundance and will screen at the Flyway on Saturday, October 25th at 3:00 PM.

axeFollowing the keynote address, Vaicius will present the Festival “Axe” awards, designed by Wisconsin sculptor David Culver. Awardees will be announced in the categories of narrative, documentary, and Wisconsin/Minnesota films, as well as several special jury awards and the “Spirit of Flyway” award. The evening continues with music by the up-and-coming Minneapolis band Sun Gods to Gamma Rays. Called “restrained, powerful, potent and cool” by l’etoile Magazine, the band’s “trippy, ethereal sounds will make you want to get up and dance” (Minnesota Monthly).

Everyone is welcome at this event. Tickets are $35 here or at the door, with food and drinks included in the ticket price. Full Festival Pass holders are admitted free.