Derek Wayne Johnson has won awards for his work in filmmaking, and he encourages anyone who wants to make movies to do so — even if they live in East Texas.

He did for the first 30 years of his life here in Carthage and Northwest Louisiana.

“Anybody can make movies now,” he said. “You have an iPhone and you can shoot. You can shoot on the weekends. You can shoot with your friends after school. There’s no excuse now to not make movies if you want to make movies, and you never have to feel like you’re a small town person. ‘How will I ever make it to Hollywood?’ Well, this town produces a lot of athletes, and it produces some artists as well, and I think it’s a wonderful town to be from.”

The inaugural Mainstreet Film Festival, put on by the Carthage Main Street Youth Advisory Council, drew a crowd Saturday evening with 18 short films shown at the Esquire Theater.

The night began with 10 films in the young filmmakers category, and eight films were shown in the independent filmmakers category, which was open to anybody aged 19 or older.

Johnson, originally of Carthage, spoke between the categories, and Q&A sessions followed the films, with the young filmmakers and independent filmmakers present for the festival, awards and a reception.

“Salting the Fly,” directed by Craig Mooneyham and Jacob Reynolds, won best of the fest, and “How To Make Toast,” directed by Collin Hanks and Hayden Kirkpatrick, won the audience favorite.

The winners of the festival in the young filmmaker category were:

  • Best Actress: Elna Rosalie Leonard in “The Spaghetti Monster”
  • Best Actor: Montgomery Samuel Thomas in “The Spaghetti Monster”
  • Best Film: “Spotless Mind,” directed by Rhett Goldman
  • First Runner-up Best Film: “The Spaghetti Monster,” directed by Joshua M. Thomas
  • Second Runner-up Best Film: “Callback,” directed by Rhett Goldman

The winners in the independent filmmaker category were:

  • Best Actress: Mikaela Free in “Three Arrows”
  • Best Actor: Sage Wagner in “Life”
  • Best Film: “Lillian,” directed by Molly Vernon
  • First Runner-up Best Film: “Serum,” directed by Calvin Henson Jr.
  • Second Runner-up Best Film: “I Resign,” directed by Jay Mohan

During the Q&A session, the filmmakers present for the festival sat on stage and answered questions from Johnson and the audience. When asked what their favorite part of the film making process was, several of the young filmmakers said editing.

“I love editing, and I thought working on Spotless Mind with Mary (Katherine Smith) and Collin (Hanks) was really fun because it was stop motion,” Carthage High School senior Rhett Goldman said. “And so we were doing everything at 50 percent speed, and Mary was trying to do all these dances and turns really really slowly, and I’d never done a stop motion animation before, so that was really fun.”

In terms of difficulties faced, directing was a monumental task for independent filmmaker Dylan Ray Coslet, who directed “Three Arrows.”

“It’s incredibly stressful and chronically tiresome, that you go through all the stages of pre-production,” Coslet said. “You try and put as much labor and as much time and effort into everything before you shoot, before anything gets recorded, and it never lives up to the standard that you want it to be, and then when you’re actually on set then there’s that added pressure of trying to keep this large group of people together and then not keep morale from just bottoming out, and you’ve really got to make sure that you are on top of it in everything that you do.”

Calvin Henson Jr. had an extra task on top of directing “Serum.”

“I’d say the biggest challenge for me in mine was having to both act and direct, which was challenging because at one point I wanted to try to help my other actors with direction, but then I also got to remember that I’m also in this thing so I have to help myself act,” Henson said. “So that was the biggest challenge for me, but overall I think just with each new project comes a new challenge that you try to face and just get through.”