By Mark Ambrogi
Chuck Budreau discovered he had an aptitude to assist in making films just by chance.
“I fell into it,” he said. “I had a friend from my high school (Logansport), who as a side hobby was into film. He needed a sound guy one day when his sound guy didn’t show up. He tapped me for it, and I’ve been doing it ever since.”
That was 20-plus years ago.
“I’m primarily a sound guy, but I do a little bit of directing in small independent films,” Budreau said. “I’ve been heavily active in the Indiana Filmmakers Network, a nonprofit that promotes independent films through the state. We have meetings in different cities every month. It’s a strong organization with a lot of active filmmakers in it.”
The Noblesville resident is the coordinator for Gen Con Film Contest, serving as film registrar and director. This is the eighth year he’s filled those roles for the film festival at the gaming convention, which has been held in Indianapolis since 2003. Celebrating its 50th anniversary, Gen Con 50 is set for Aug. 17 to 20 at the Indiana Convention Center in downtown Indianapolis. The films are shown in the ballrooms of The Westin Indianapolis.
“I started off a volunteer, but it is a position now. I’m basically a contractor,” Budreau said. “I’ve been working with a lot of independent film people for many years. I knew someone at Gen Con, and they suggested me because they saw all the film stuff I’ve been working on.”
Budreau has worked on a wide variety of films, documentaries, comedies and dramatics.
“The same tool kit works for all those type of films,” he said. “I’ve done some reality TV-type stuff and done some sporting events.”
Budreau has directed a pilot on his friend Mark Racop, who builds Batmobiles in Logansport.
Budreau, a 1984 Logansport High School graduate, was self-employed in the family business for several years, selling swimming pools.
“Then I started a computer shop, and from there I moved into the IT field, which is what my day job is now,” said Budreau, who works in data security for Anthem Insurance.
Filmmaking is where Budreau spends most of his free time.
“It’s really hard work, but it’s also the most fun work I’ve ever done,” Budreau said. “It’s getting with a group of people to be creative rather than just being creative on your own. It takes a really well-oiled crew to put together a good production. There is a lot of camaraderie. People know what they are doing and step up and do what they need to do without being told. It’s amazing to be a part of. I’ve always enjoyed it at several levels.”
Budreau has worked on Indianapolis resident Demetrius Witherspoon’s film series called “Submerge.” His latest short film, “Submerge: Echo 51,” will be shown at Gen Con.
“He’s a big supporter of independent films,” Witherspoon said. “He really caters to the directors and actors. Chuck is very easy-going and very knowledgeable.”
Budreau said one of the interesting things about Gen Con Film Contest is that it is an international event that brings people to Indianapolis.
“Last year we had someone come in from New Zealand with a low-budget science fiction comedy, which was just hilarious,” Budreau said. “Everybody loved it. He flew in from New Zealand. In the middle of our four-day event, he flies to Toronto for a one-day screening at a Toronto Film Festival and then flew back here.”
Budreau said the filmmakers usually have common experiences to share.
“It’s a bit of a challenge,” Budreau said. “You have to review every film that is submitted. I do the majority of it myself. When we get down to final judging, I bring in some people to help. I’ve watched every minute of even the ones we’re not showing.”
Eight years ago, people would send him the films.
“Now, they upload them because everyone has broadband,” Budreau said. “So technology has made it so much easier.”
There are short films and feature-length films.
“All the films we bring in are to appeal to that culture, sci-fi or fantasy, oddball comedies, documentaries that fit into that,” Budreau said. “We had a great one on the DeLorean from ‘Back to the Future.’ We have documentaries on gaming, very shocking horror films to screwball comedies.”
Budreau said there were more than 100 films shown last year at Gen Con, with the shortest ones about three minutes.
“We try to schedule them so they make sense with one another, creating blocks of film,” Budreau said.
The film contest started taking submissions in late January and cut it off in early May.
His fiancee, Sonja Rohn, said Budreau is extremely dedicated.
“It takes hours and hours to do this throughout the year,” she said. “There have been weekends and nights where I don’t hardly see him because he is so committed to getting it done. When Gen Con is here, he is like a well-oiled machine. He has it down to a science.”
Budreau has a daughter, Rachel, who just finished her freshman year at Fishers High School.