Thursday, November 27, 2014 · 4:25 a.m.
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"Predator" by Misty Fugate was handpicked from thousands of photographs. (Photo: Misty Fugate)

The lens of a still-shot camera and a motion picture camera are one and the same, each capturing and preserving, with the snap of a shutter or the turn of the film reel, a moment in time.

Despite the fundamental similarity, the two genres have occupied detached spaces of the art world—until now, when one local artist is helping make history through a national project to connect photography and film.

Sale Creek photographer Misty Fugate joins a select class whose work was chosen to spark the narrative of a film as part of Project Imaginat10n, a venture led by Canon and Director Ron Howard.

Fugate’s eerily—and equally—beautiful and harrowing piece “Predator” earned a spot in the backstory category for fashion designer and co-founder of the label Marchesa Georgina Chapman’s film. Production for the project will begin in 2013 and premiere at the Canon Project Imaginat10n Film Festival next year.

Sharing a lens
Now in its second year, the Canon-Howard partnership grew out of a particular assertion by the award-winning child-actor turned director. 

Howard—who is best-known for his roles in “The Andy Griffith Show” and “Happy Days” and his work behind the camera on films such as “Apollo 13,” “A Beautiful Mind” and “Frost/Nixon”—and the camera company set out to prove that truly inspiring creativity was not the sole property of the elite art world, but a possibility for everyone.

Project Imagin8ion collected photographic submissions taken with a Canon camera from all over the U.S. in eight categories, representing the eight elements of storytelling. The eight winners together became the creative guide for a short film directed by Bryce Dallas Howard, working under the mentorship of her father.

"When You Find Me" emerged from last year's contest

This year, the contest has risen to the power of 10: Project Imaginat10n accepted photos in 10 storytelling categories—backstory, character, discovery, goal, obstacle, mood, relationship, setting, the unknown and time—and will result in 10 films.

As Fugate explained, artists submitted their work through the project’s website. The masses were narrowed down by Canon’s professional judges to 30 photographs per category. That group’s work was then put to a public vote, with Howard reserving the ultimate say for the final 91 winners.

Five celebrity directors combed through the pool and chose 10 photographs on which to base their films. To date, actors Eva Longoria and Jamie Foxx, Twitter co-founder Biz Stone and musician James Murphy of LCD Soundsystem are on board for the project. Five more directors have yet to be announced.

“It’s very exciting, and I’m really looking forward to seeing where all of these pictures take us. I just think the whole concept of Project Imaginat10n is so brilliant,” said Chapman, who will build a story around the layered depths of Fugate and her nine colleagues’ work. “It’s just so incredible to see how much talent is out there and be able to work with it and to use it.”

In a video announcing Chapman’s picks for her film, she pointed to the darkness in “Predator” as its distinctive quality. She also noted its contribution of a new character who could help the story take a step forward in its plot.

Secrets in the woods
Nestled in Sale Creek where her family relocated from Pennsylvania in 1991, Fugate bases the majority of her work in the outdoors. The piece for Project Imaginat10n came together on a four-wheeler path behind her home.

She explained that the natural arrangement of trees, branches and foliage creates its own light filter and can cast a perfectly placed shadow or delicately illuminate a subject.

“The woods always have so many stories to tell,” Fugate said. “With the rich colors and textures, it can truly be a magical place.”

As her photograph demonstrates, the setting can also hold untold horror. The piece shows the lower half of a figure dressed in black, standing in the woods and hanging onto a baby doll. Fugate framed the picture around the idea of the loss of innocence.

Georgina Chapman discusses her photography picks

“With so many stories in the news about child abductions—every parent’s worst fear—I wanted to express my own fear of it,” Fugate said. “It was important to not show a face, so no one particular image would be identified. I think that one of the most terrifying things about [the image is] the not knowing who, where or when.”

There is a palatable impulse to look away when first glancing at the photograph. The filth on the figure’s hands, the sense of the upside-down doll dangling at his or her side, even the shadowed folds of the black clothing and, above all, the mystery of the figure’s face and identity—each aspect of the piece haunts the viewer.

From Tennessee to the red carpet
Now that her piece has been selected, Fugate can relax until the 2013 Canon Project Imaginat10n Film Festival, where she and the other photographers will see what became of their work for the first time.

“This project, which is a first in filmmaking history, allows photographers of all different backgrounds and experience to have the chance to be a small part of photographic history,” Fugate said. “[Canon and Ron Howard] have brought together a huge community that cherishes the art of photography and the inspiration that comes from it. One of the greatest things for a photographer is to see and hear what others feel and interpret from our work.”

Fugate received her first camera—a Canon Rebel—as a gift from her family when she was in her early 20s. The instant love of photography led her to the New York Institute of Photography and a career in artistic and commercial work with Archangel Images. Fugate’s photography has appeared on the cover of books and magazines, including Vogue Italia.

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