Baylor students host Waco’s first music and film fest

WIME Logo_2 FTWBy Rob Bradfield
Assistant City Editor

A small group of people is trying to change Waco’s image in the music and film world.

The group is Waco Arts-Media and their event is the Waco Independent Media Expo.

The Expo is the brainchild of the three co-founders of Waco Arts-Media: Owen McGrath, Abilene senior Mackenzie Wilson and Waco senior Ben Palich.

It was born out of an idea to expand The 8th Street Film Festival, a project started in part by Palich and Wilson, and to help put Waco on the increasingly growing Texas independent entertainment map. It was a small film festival held at Common Grounds.

“Even though not all of us are from Waco initially, we are all Wacoans in our own right,” Wilson said.

The Expo is divided into two parts. The film festival will be held on March 6 at the Dancing Bear and the music festival will be held on March 7 at Common Grounds.

According to the event coordinators, the Expo will try to connect the Waco music and film scenes with each other and the larger Texas communities.

“It’s more ‘Texas local’ than solely ‘Waco local’,” McGrath said.

The idea of “Texas Local” comes through most prominently in the music lineup.

The Expo’s schedule blends local music staples like Kat Dixon (Married with Sea Monsters) and O, Loveland with up-and-coming bands from across the state such as headliner Bobby Jealousy (Austin) and Hydra Melody (San Antonio).

The music starts at 1 p.m. and continues all day.

Common Grounds’ live event coordinator, Wes Butler, has been working closely with the Waco Arts-Media team and is an eager partner. He has been using his experience in the Texas music scene to draw in talent for the music side of the Expo.

“We love promoting arts in every facet that we can,” Butler said.

The film portion of the Expo will be hosted in the backyard of the Dancing Bear, at 1117 Speight Ave. On its website, the Expo promises to screen some of “the best independent and student films made in this great state of Texas.”

According to the organizers, the film festival is a way to get new filmmakers exposure beyond what they could get at their Universities.

“Universities are great for many things, but it’s not their prerogative to give people exposure,” Palich said.

The list of films showing hasn’t been released yet, but they will all be student or independent short films from across the state. The film area at the Dancing Bear will be 18 and up, while the inside will remain 21 and up. Interested filmmakers may submit their shorts for the festival until Feb. 28 by sending Palich an email at with a link to their Vimeo or YouTube account.

The third part of the event is the little-talked-about “After.” It’s an event at a currently undisclosed location for participants in both the film and music festivals, and a select number of Gold Pass holders.

“‘After’ was an idea to give filmmakers and musicians a chance to mingle and build connections between those communities,” McGrath said.

Tickets range in price from $10 for the film festival and $15 for the music festival. A silver pass is available for $20, which grants access to both film and music, and a limited number of gold passes are available for $30 that include entrance to the film festival, the music festival and the “After” event.

Tickets can be purchased at