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Kryshan Randel

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. I’ve 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 other’s 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 Dad’s 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 DaVinci’s 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 Cinesonic’s 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 quite quickly.

© Kryshan Randel, Producer, The 24 Hour Film Contest

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