ON FILM - REEL OVERNIGHT SUCCESSES
24 HOUR FILM CONTEST
It was 9:45 a.m. March 9th 2003, on a cloudy Vancouver Sunday morning.
I was standing at the drop-off spot, and I was very concerned. Four out
of twenty films had been dropped off. Now I had 15 minutes to wait for
the other sixteen, one of them shot entirely on 16mm. At a nearby café
the previous morning, 20 teams of eight people or less received their
rules: 24 hours to incorporate a prop egg into a six-minute copyright-free
short film that would answer the question, "What if you could live
an entire lifetime in a day?" The following Saturday, the films would
be screened in front of five hundred people, judged by a panel of industry
professionals, and prizes would be awarded. All this would only happen
if there were enough on-time films to screen I was worried.
Suddenly, dozens of participants showed up, almost all at once: sweaty,
exhausted, running down the street or screeching their cars to a halt,
and telling co-producer Ed Hatton and I their stories of the good, the
bad and the ugly. When the dust had settled, nineteen films had made it,
with one casualty. Craziness! Talk about cutting it close. Two months
until the next 24 hours of madness
Let me back up to the beginning. Ive always been hooked on independent
filmmaking. Growing up, I spent a lot of time watching movies, acting
in school plays, and making short films. I also worked every part-time
film-related job I could get; movie usher, video store clerk, film critic,
even Imax projectionist.
Soon after high school, I attended the Film Program at Capilano College,
where they told me that the most common approach to having a career in
the film industry was to work your way up. After film school, I took that
advice, spent a few hundred days as a production assistant, then began
to doubt that this was the best route for me. My heart was in independent
filmmaking. It seemed to me that there were not enough resources for people
to "get creative fast": to make films, watch each others
work, and develop their own inspired and creative networks for getting
films made. So, in October 2001, I turned a filmmaking exercise I had
organized in film school into a public event to be held every two months:
The 24 Hour Film Contest.
The first contest was a humble beginning indeed. Four groups showed up
and three films were made, so everyone got a prize: rental of my camera,
rental of my G4 editing machine, and eight of my Dads finest skin
care products. Even then, the films were great stuff, with creative, original
ideas about martial arts, foreign films and modern mythology.
The stories behind the nine films made at the next contest were almost
as exciting as the films themselves. First Place went to a crew from DaVincis
Inquest (including actor Ian Tracey) that broke a five thousand dollar
camera and filmed for twelve hours in torrential rain without craft service.
Second Place was an original musical produced by a group of production
assistants, who accidentally erased half their footage at six hours to
the deadline and had to reshoot it and edit it into a coherent whole.
A group of web designers who had never made a film before achieved Third
Place by writing about what they knew; a failed start-up. And those were
just the winners stories
"What if you could live an entire lifetime
in a day?"
Filmmakers and films this creative deserved greater rewards, more press,
more sponsorship, higher-profile hosts and judges and a whole lot more
recognition in general. So, in 2002, with the help a goal-setting course
called Flash Forward and too many names to mention, I got to work.
By the end of 2002, the five contests produced that year had been supported
by over fifty sponsors, including Sony, Avid, Alliance Atlantis, Reel
West, William F. White, PS Production Services, Vidcom and Paladin Canada.
Our prizes included $2000 green screen studio and equipment rentals, private
theatrical screenings, and Avid Xpress 3.5 editing software. The event
had received over 35 media articles, and much TV and radio exposure. Our
hosts included directors Bryan Singer (X-Men, The Usual Suspects) and
Carl Bessai (Emile). I produced six promotional videos, one TV pilot inspired
by the contest, and a DVD of all films from the September contest that
each participant received, with commentaries and behind-the-scenes footage.
Contest films started to get more exposure: at parties, at other industry
events, even on CBC. And we began the process of presenting every completed
film on our website: 94 films to date, made by over 700 contestants. Finally,
in January 2003 (the weekend of my 23rd birthday, appropriately enough),
a packed house viewed the best films from The 2002 Series at Cinesonics
four hundred seat movie theatre, as determined by over 1400 online votes.
This year, I am looking for even more fresh concepts and ideas for the
contest. I am also planning to expand my own film projects. Creative energy
as powerful as the kind The 24 Hour Film Contest generates gets infectious
© Kryshan Randel, Producer, The 24 Hour Film Contest
all rights reserved