FOR two decades Flickerfest short-film festival has been a gateway to the big time for young film-makers and the Northern Rivers has played its part.
Bangalow A&I Hall has regularly been the first stop on the annual festival's 37-show circuit and it's mainly because Shane Rennie, Flickerfest tour co-ordinator, is a proud local resident.
"It's good to make our home-town the first stop on the tour," Mr Rennie said.
"It gives our area the first hit of those cutting-edge films."
Many of the short films that screen at Flickerfest cannot be seen anywhere else.
"(Flickerfest) gets all the cutting-edge films a year before everywhere else," Mr Rennie said. "Some of these films won't even get to the other smaller festivals around the world."
This year Flickerfest received 2200 entries from around the globe - an unprecedented amount. A group of industry heavyweights had to whittle the figure down to the 100 most innovative and creative.
"We try to choose films that will get you to look at the world in a different way," Flickerfest director Bronwyn Kidd said.
The panel chose "a really broad range of films", from comedies to dramas, Ms Kidd said.
While the festival is open to the world, the Northern Rivers will be the big beneficiary.
Organisers have created a workshop called Flickerlab that will see five of Australia's film industry leaders give their knowledge to up-and-coming Northern Rivers film-makers.
Ms Kidd said the workshop aimed "to create a thriving local film-making scene".
Even the biggest movie stars, such as Australian icon Jack Thompson, will feature in short-films to screen at Flickerfest.
"They don't do it for profit; they do it for their passion and for the stories... the things they really want to work on and express," Mr Rennie explained.
"I think that's why they come back to short films."
Flickerfest is at Bangalow A&I Hall January 21-23 and Flickerlab will be held on January 23, 2.30pm.
Tickets are available from Mullumbimby Book Store, All Music & Vision (Byron Bay, Lismore and Ballina) and Barebones Bangalow.