Deep in the Heart Film Festival

The Deep in the Heart Film Festival has announced the film lineup for its sixth edition, which will combine in-theater screenings from July 21-24, followed by an online encore from July 24-30.

The event will open with a special presentation of short films. The Texas premiere of Juliet Landau’s thriller A Place Among the Dead will be the spotlight screening, and then the festival will close with the world premiere of Michael McNamara and Aaron Hancox’s documentary Catwalk 2: The Comeback Cats

The Festival will present 123 films (five features, 109 shorts and nine music videos).
Co-founders and directors Samuel Thomas and Louis Hunter said, “We recognize the impact this film festival increasingly makes on the Waco filmmaking ecosystem, just as it solidifies its place each year as a key stop on the map for filmmakers attending regional film festivals on the national tour. Giving our filmmakers more opportunities beyond the wonderful interaction with our Waco audiences to help with their development as artists, and maybe encourage them to come back to town to shoot their next project here is a central focus for this film festival. Of course, the sense of fun and love of cinema that Deep in the Heart FF will be omnipresent once again as our ability to spread the gospel of our films and what we do has become stronger and made us quite a force to be reckoned with.”

Leading the remaining trio of feature films presented this year is Aaron Hosé’s One Pint at a Time, looks at the heritage, history, and traditions behind American brewing culture. Today, Black-owned breweries make up less than one percent of the nearly 9,000 currently in operation. This documentary follows the Black brewers, brand owners and influencers across the country who are reshaping the craft beer industry and the future of America’s favorite adult beverage. Adding to Deep in the Heart FF’s genre offerings this year, Zachary Endres’ ghost story Home Body follows a shut-in who dies alone and returns as a housebound ghost, finding himself at the mercy of a world that didn’t even notice he was gone. Rounding out the features lineup is Micah Stathis’ The Sisters Karras, which focuses on two estranged half-sisters who must form a complicated bond in order to retrieve their rare and precious inheritance, which their late father inexplicably left to the mysterious man.
A major focus of this year’s Festival is the celebration of Waco as a film location. Given the proximity to both the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex and Austin, Waco effectively serves as a connection point between these production hubs.

Those in charge of the Festival say that with a supportive community to filmmakers and filmmaking and the city’s beautiful and versatile location, it is easy to say that Waco is made for movies.

This year, the Festival will launch the “Made Deep in the Heart” screenplay grant. This grant is awarded to the winner of the Festival’s screenplay contest, and it provides a variety of elements for producing this screenplay in Waco. This includes: 

  • Up to four nights of complimentary hotel stay provided by the Waco Convention and Visitors Bureau. These nights may be used for pre-production scouting or during the production.
  • Up to $2,500 in rebates provided by the Deep in the Heart Film Festival. These purchases must go toward McLennan County people, places, and things. This funding can pay for local cast, crew, catering, costumes, all sorts of filmmaking goodies. All the purchases must be made in McLennan County with receipts provided.
  • Camera and Lighting Package. The Festival has partnered with Vision Vehicle Studios, veterans of stage and screen, who will provide a suitable camera and lighting package for the winning filmmaker. 
  • Five hours of free filmmaking consulting with Vision Vehicle Studios. This could be on equipment, potential revisions, directing, and local production.

To promote the screenplay grant, the Festival wanted to illustrate Waco as a film destination. This led to a collaboration with Blanca Estefania, Will Saurez, and Skcoobavelli Treviño to develop a movie mashup campaign – mixing movie icons and Waco landmarks for a series of distinctive posters for this year’s edition of the film festival underlining how Waco is made for movies.

While visual imagery is an excellent way to connect the Festival to the local community, the best way to reach the film lovers of Waco is through personal connection. To this end, the Festival has enlisted a team of Festival Ambassadors to help us share the mission and purpose of the Festival.
They include:
Sam Brown, Senior Vice President – Commercial Business Development at The First National Bank of Central Texas
Jacob Green, Co-Owner of Stay Classy Waco
Katie Selman, Co-Owner of Stay Classy Waco
Michael Larsen, Larsen & Talbert Photography
Tracey Larsen, Larsen & Talbert Photography
Eric Linares, Founder of Eastside Market
Doug McDurham, Executive Director of Art Center Waco
Jillian Ohriner, Founder of We Grow the Co
Kennedy Sam, Marketing Director at Creative Waco
David Taylor, Co-Owner of Waco Surf
Ashely Bean Thornton, Founder of Act Locally Waco

The Festival is also teaming up with The Waco Trolley to make it easier for filmmakers to get here. Filmmakers can catch a free ride from DFW Airport to Waco, with a return trip at the end of the festival. 

The Festival will also host a panel with veteran filmmakers and Industry experts who will discuss film festival and film business strategies – including online distribution of short films and real world problem solving toward the challenges of taking the next step and making a feature film. 

The Festival has organized a locations-scouting tour around town to show what Waco has to offer. This year, representatives from the Texas Film Commission, as well as the Texas Media Production Alliance, join members from the Waco Convention and Visitors Bureau to talk about the benefits and opportunities found by filming in Texas.

The Festival will kick things off with its Creative Waco Red Carpet Press Party on Thursday, July 21. Local press and photographers will be on hand along with the filmmakers, cast and crew, and attending industry veterans. The Red Carpet is an exclusive event for VIP passholders, sponsors and filmmakers. Each night of the festival will also concludes with an after-party, where local attendees enjoy a more casual connection with visiting filmmakers. 

These parties are hosted at locally owned Waco hot spots: Brotherwell BrewingSouthern Roots Brewing, and Stay Classy Waco, and include party games, free drinks (for VIP passholders), and a mechanical bull. 

The in-person portion of the Festival will conclude on Sunday, July 24, with the Waco Heart of Texas Awards Brunch – including the announcement of the winner of the Festival’s short screenplay competition – which is open to filmmakers, festival sponsors, and VIP passholders.

To purchase passes and tickets, you can visit For more information on the Deep in the Heart Film Festival, you can visit

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