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Alek Talevich is done with Hollywood. Gregarious and earnest, the 30-year-old self-described "California refugee" (a former UCLA film student now pursuing his master's in English at Western Washington University) explains, "If I'd never read another script, never talked to another actor, never picked up a camera again, I would've been happy." He snapped out of his post-Hollywood disillusionment when he met and started working with fellow Bellingham filmmaker Caleb Young. "I saw him, with his infectious enthusiasm, and I thought, 'Okay, maybe I can do that.'"

In addition to their individual projects, Young and Talevich collaborated on a web series called Short Ends: Talevich wrote the script and directed; Young was cinematographer, editor, provided the equipment, and scheduled the three-day shoot. The finished product is a comedy with emotional depth—a wry, adroit take on the absurdities of film school (all necessary stereotypes apply: the angry feminist, the blowhard professor, the sunglasses-at-night auteur, etc.).

But Young and Talevich aren't just filmmakers who happen to live in Bellingham. They're Bellingham filmmakers. Talevich believes that Bellingham, in its own way, is just as viable as a hub of film production as Hollywood: "We've got beautiful people, beautiful drama, beautiful vistas, and the willingness to support freak culture." Young concurs: "I'm staying in Bellingham—I love it here, and it's a great area to shoot in."

Problem is, the town offers very few resources for aspiring artists. There is no film program at Western. "Anyone who has interest in film has basically no outlets," Talevich says. That's where Young comes in: "He's like a one-man film school up here. He's enabled four first-time directors to make their full-length movies (myself included) without ever asking for a dime in return... all for free, offering his own equipment."

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Young, 27, grew up in Lynnwood and started making films in his early 20s. He writes all his films with his twin brother—the two are interested in drama, mostly, in "telling something honest, a small story... about divorce, sex, the way people should be connected, the way people don't open up." (He's just finished a feature that he'll be submitting to festivals this year.) But Young's more immediate interests lie in filling that educational void in Bellingham's film community.

Currently studying to be a teacher, Young plans to start an after-school film program for high-school kids—to help new generations of Bellingham filmmakers the way he's already tirelessly helping his peers. "What I really would love to do," he says, "is get a bunch of kids together who are interested in film, come up with an idea, and make a film. Help them collaborate and create one product that they're all happy with." recommended