The deadCENTER Film Festival was founded in 2001 by Justan and Jayson Floyd, who hosted a one night screening of short films from Oklahoma filmmakers at City Arts on the State Fairgrounds. Their mother provided hot dogs and snacks for the 50 film fans that showed up.
The festival moved to the University of Central Oklahoma in 2002. And, in 2003, Executive Director Melissa Scaramucci relocated the festival to downtown Oklahoma City, cementing our location in the dead center of Oklahoma and America. 2003 also welcomed Kim Haywood to the team as a volunteer. Kim became deadCENTER’s first paid employee in 2006 and is still running the show as Director of Programming and Festival Director to this day.
In 2004, Melissa Scaramucci moved over to become head of programming. Cacky Poarch stepped into the Executive Director roll for an astounding 7 years, most of those as a full time volunteer.
Brian Hearn, Film Curator for the Oklahoma City Museum of Art, joined deadCENTER from its inception, leveraging his relationships with independent distributors to increase the profile of the festival and attract bigger international films. Executive Director Lance McDaniel and Features Programmer Kevin Ely joined the deadCENTER team in 2010 after volunteering for 5 years in programming, events and production. And, Shorts Programmer Sara McCombs and Program Coordinator Alyx Picard joined the deadCENTER team in 2011 after several years of managing the box office and host committee respectively.
For the past 3 years, the deadCENTER Education program has reached thousands of students around the state, partnering with the Chickasaw Nation, the Oklahoma Film and Music Office and Oklahoma City Community College to inspire the next generation of filmmakers. In 2012, deadCENTER added a Distribution Forum so that every accepted filmmaker could meet with Sales Agents and Distributors at the festival. And, we launched the Oklahoma Film Icon Award to recognize the contribution of Oklahomans to the film industry.
Since our humble beginnings in 2001, deadCENTER has become Oklahoma’s largest film festival and one of the “20 Coolest Film Festivals in the World” according to MovieMaker magazine. While still presenting the best of Oklahoma films, deadCENTER has grown into an international festival, featuring over 1,300 films from around the world and all over the United States. Last year’s festival attracted 13,000 fans to downtown Oklahoma City. But, throughout the years, deadCENTER has remained dedicated to providing our filmmakers and audiences with the best possible experience, with great films, interesting filmmaker panel discussion and amazing parties.