The Legacy of Makona Film Fest: An Interview with Noah Wagner

Issue 25: February 28, 2024

Monday, February 26th, marked the 3rd Annual Makona Film Fest with great success. The brainchild of Jordan Mackey, the film festival quickly became a beacon for cinematic enthusiasts, captivating the community with its unique charm year after year. I am bringing a special interview today from McMurry alumnus, Man of Makona, and my perfect Big Brother, Noah Wagner.

This event’s inception was no doubt a logistical challenge, but Makona built on the foundation of what was there to create an instant classic Greek Life event. Wagner continues, “The inspiration for the film festival was simply our desire to create something big that involved the community and allowed people to be creative. While Makona had never hosted a film festival before, McMurry used to host one at the Paramount Theater.”

 “Knowing the Paramount’s beauty and grandeur, we envisioned hosting our festival there right from the start,” Wagner said. “Affordability seemed like a challenge, but George Leveque, upon contacting him, was incredibly enthusiastic and supportive.”

While this project was spearheaded by former Makona President Jordan Mackey, a project this large required the collective will of Makona as an organization. “While Jordan navigated the ups and downs – like lack of submissions, funding, and generating excitement for this new project – I played a significant role in logistics and keeping the team motivated. I believe all Makona members truly contributed in their own unique ways,” Wagner said.

After Mackey’s graduation, Wagner took the reins of the wild film fest, determined to elevate the scale. “I aimed to double its size, so we implemented earlier planning and stronger marketing strategies. This involved collaboration with McMurry’s marketing team and other entities to spread the word within the community. I must credit Hayden James for invaluable assistance, especially in taking charge of promotional materials, where we used parodies of popular movies. The second year proved even more successful, registering a 40% increase in attendance and receiving significantly more submissions. The quality of films also improved significantly, with more local creators participating.”

The following year however, the time came for Wagner to graduate and pass on the torch to new Makona Leadership, “As an alumnus, I was thrilled to witness the festival’s continued growth and the even higher quality of films presented this year. Seeing our vision come to life filled Mackey and me with immense satisfaction. We are committed to continuing and expanding this annual event to empower individuals in storytelling and creative endeavors.”

The Makona Film Festival stands as a testament to the power of community, collaboration, and the pursuit of creative passion. From a simple desire to create something big, Makona has fostered an annual celebration of storytelling and cinematic excellence that continues to captivate and inspire the city of Abilene and beyond every year.