In ‘Poser,’ filmmakers and cast prove they’re the real deal

Debut feature creates a thriller set in a thrilling Columbus underground music scene

Brad Keefe
Sylvie Mix (left) and Bobbi Kitten in a still from "Poser"

Making movies is hard. A lot harder than it looks.

Knowing this, I’ve been hesitant over the years to review locally produced independent features, not because I don’t love and want to support them, but because the wider audience might not understand why they may feel a little rough around the edges.

Also, my desire to support Columbus filmmaking would make it difficult for me to objectively answer whether a movie is good or just … local.

“Poser” does not have this problem.

The feature film by Ori Segev and Noah Dixon debuted at the 2021 Tribeca Film Festival almost a year ago — and generated enough critical buzz that I knew I wasn’t just letting my local bias take over.

It’s not just local. It’s a good film.

More:Columbus filmmakers bring ‘Poser’ to New York’s Tribeca Film Festival

Oscilloscope agreed, as the film distribution company founded by late Beastie Boy Adam Yauch picked up “Poser” for national distribution. To use an overused term, this movie puts Columbus on the map.

But we get to see it first, as next Thursday “Poser” makes its public premiere with a 7 p.m. showing at the Gateway Film Center. (It’s nearing a sell-out, so get tickets in advance at GFC’s website.)

“Poser” is set in a Columbus underground art and house show scene that feels more big-city hip than Midwestern, a kind of hyper-realized version of the Columbus scene.

Just on the outskirts of this scene is Lennon Gates (Sylvie Mix), a thoughtful and introspective podcaster who ingrains herself into said scene through recording sounds on her phone.

Lennon seems shy, an outsider who wishes she was an insider, and the recordings have a certain voyeurism to them. She’s faking it until she makes it.

But things change for Lennon when she meets Bobbi Kitten (a fictionalized version of the Damn the Witch Siren frontwoman, played by herself). Bobbi embodies the confidence that Lennon lacks, and it becomes a relationship that takes an obsessive turn.

Segev and Dixon set the film in a world they knew and included a ton of local musicians and artists. I can say I was trying to take off my “local” cap, but when you’re seeing friends and acquaintances on the screen, it’s hard not to turn into the Leo DiCaprio pointing meme.

Yet they use this mostly unprofessional cast to create something that feels organic, with shades of Richard Linklater’s 1990 ode to his Austin home, “Slacker.”

Of course, the lack of professional acting credits doesn’t mean a lack of talent. Mix is particularly revelatory and has a promising future as an actor, and Bobbi Kitten has already landed another feature, showing an adept pivot to acting from talents that were already known to those who’ve seen DTWS.

The look of the film is also gorgeous, both slick and authentic with great work by cinematographer Logan Floyd.

This, combined with some deeply creative location work, makes the "Poser" version of Columbus feel, well, cool. It’s the kind of movie I would have watched from my small town and said, I must go there.

To further celebrate the scene that’s documented, Oscilloscope is pairing the theatrical debut with a mini-music festival called Poserfest at A&R Bar and The Basement the weekend after the film premiere.

Columbus acts including former Alive Bands to Watch groups like wyd, Joey Aich, Son of Dribble and more will take the stage in a setting that feels right for recreating a house show.

Tickets for Poserfest are available individually, or you can just add a small upcharge to your “Poser” premiere ticket from the GFC website.

I’ve screened “Poser” twice at home (including its Tribeca debut) but can’t wait to experience it on a big screen with the filmmakers and cast. This looks to be a sold-out screening, and I’ve already bought my ticket.

"Poser" is a showcase of talent that doesn’t have to be judged on a local scale. I can’t wait to see what’s next for everyone involved.

“Poser” premiere and Q&A

Thursday, June 2 at 8 p.m. (6:30 pre-party)

Gateway Film Center

4 stars out of 5

Poserfest

Friday, June 10 at 6 p.m.

A&R Bar/The Basement