Indie Grits Labs

Though it started 12 years ago as a DIY Southern film festival, Indie Grits has become much more than the presentation of films showcasing the diversity, challenges, joy, and aspirations of our community. We have become creators, commissioning over a hundred works of various media from dozens of local and Southeastern artists. These same artists have now become the lead instructors and designers of our education programs, and mentors to youth in our community.

Indie Grits’ rapidly growing programs are garnering support from national funders as we provide the tools to make, interpret, appreciate, and teach the moving image in all its variety. Recently, Columbia Film Society created Indie Grits Labs to consolidate the festival, the creation of new media artwork, and media education.

Building off of our first artist residency in 2014, Indie Grits 2015 was a themed festival which commissioned over 20 artists to create new works interacting directly with our Columbia community. That approach encouraged a collaborative community of artists to create work around a common theme using a wide range of disciplines and approaches such as painting, filmmaking, game development, community organization, horticulture, music, storytelling, sculpture, and photography.

With the creation of Indie Grits Labs the themes became focused incubation projects, and have changed yearly with each new cohort of artists. In “Waterlines” (2016), artists tackled the October 2015 floods that devastated parts of S.C. In “Visiones” (2017), artists explored the rapid immigration from Latin America that is changing the face of the Southeast. Developing these projects has grown into a year-round process of research, discussion and creation.

Indie Grits Festival

Propelled by an expansive artistic vision in 2006, festival organizers sought to break down the walls intimidating Southern media makers by creating exhibition opportunities for work often overlooked elsewhere. Anchored by the spirit of its host, the Nickelodeon Theatre – South Carolina’s only non-profit, art house theatre – Indie Grits has become an annual pilgrimage for independent artists in search of community.

What started as a DIY festival for a tight-knit and dedicated audience, Indie Grits has grown into a staple of the city’s cultural life, giving novice to advanced media makers from across the Southeast a venue for sharing their interest in independent media making, while also giving thousands of visitors and locals access to a progressive cultural life unmatched in the Southeast.

We couldn’t do this without the City of Columbia, all of our partnering organizations, and the people of our city joining us and helping push us into new territory year after year! And hats off to the always increasing network of media makers hailing from across the Southeast and beyond.

Together we form the collective spirit that is Indie Grits. Come out and pick your poison: dark theaters, music in the streets, late night drinks with like-minded souls, scandalous variety shows, art installations, NSFW puppet shows, and more.

Media Education

Indie Grits Labs works to foster the 21st Century skills necessary to be an active citizen in our increasingly media heavy society and to plant the seeds for the film and media artists of the future by offering training, space and resources for the creation of new film and video work.

Launching in 2012 with a media literacy field trip program and an after school program at C.A. Johnson High School, our media education program has developed into a robust platform with many access points for our community. Led by an education team of both staff instructors and artists from the community, Indie Grits Labs offers media literacy labs, after school programs, adult workshops, and film camps for students.

Starting in 2015 we blended our Indie Grits artist community with our media education programs when “Waterlines” artist and filmmaker-in-residence, Joshua Yates, began teaching Come Around My Way. That same year Indie Grits alumnus and “Waterlines” artist, OK Keyes created TakeBreakMake, and we launched our seasonal Adult Workshop Program featuring local artists crafting curriculum and sharing their knowledge.  

Our media education programs have become opportunities for local and regional artists to teach, learn, and receive financial support. Through Indie Grits Labs our entire Indie Grits family now supports the creativity, mentorship, and instruction of our media education programs and promises a bright future.