Young, influential and sexy. That’s my friends Jon Gann and Philippa Hughes, according to the Washington Post. Jon Gann is best known as the founder of the DC Shorts Film Festival. And Philippa is locally famous for promoting the arts through fabulous parties and her Hoogrrl blog. I’ve been fortunate to work with both of them over the years.
Philippa and I used to be in a writers’ group together and I took photos for her at the Art-o-Sound event at this year’s Artomatic. She’s making the arts cool in DC and has been responsible for bringing huge crowds of people to galleries. She’s done so with unique events like “License to Brawl”, which took place at the Hillyer Art Gallery and featured tricked-out Scions, literary folks, interesting art and roller derby girls arm-wrestling for money. Who could say no to that?
With the ever-expanding DC Shorts, Jon is almost single-handedly making this town known for film. What’s different about DC Shorts is that it is a festival that takes care of filmmakers. If you have a film in the festival, Jon will find you a place to stay, feed you and provide plenty of opportunities to meet other filmmakers. For DC Shorts, I’ve been a film judge, a screenplay judge and a screenplay competition manager. Each year, Jon gives me terrifyingly more responsibility, like managing a screenplay reading with actors and writers, and yet I’ve learned so much from each festival. And had a really good time doing it, too.
Having worked with Jon and Philippa up close and personal, what they have in common is having a vision for the arts in DC and then just going for it. Rather than waiting for money or permission or approval, they’ve pursued their dreams with whatever is available. Doing so has immeasurably enriched the cultural life of this town and brought creative life to its streets.