Racing Against Time for the Best Short Film

by Hope Brakenhoff

Every year, student groups of four to five who have a passion for filmmaking join together to create an extraordinary short film — in only 50 hours. Over one weekend, four teams competed in the 50-hour film festival to receive an award. The Center for Visual Culture and Media Studies puts on the festival every year as a way to challenge students and give them real-life experience in developing short films. The rules of the film festival are simple. Students have to write, direct, cast, and film the entire short film on their own. On the evening of the beginning of the film festival, the teams were given an object that was required to be in the movie in whatever way the team desired. After some time passed, teams were given a location where one part of their film was required to take place. Finally, teams were given a line of dialogue that they were required to incorporate into their film. For this year’s film festival, the required object was a pair of pliers, the location was a restaurant, and the line of dialogue was, “Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in.”

All of these requirements provided the students with an interesting task: to make more creative films. Sophomore Jonathan Bremer experienced his first film festival this year. Bremer noted that, “Everyone had a role and it was great to see everyone’s strengths come out throughout the creative process.” This unique experience is a challenge unlike most, and it provides students with an experience that brings out their strengths. The film festival is a process that is stressful, time-consuming, and often involves very little sleep. Another first time 50-hour film festival participant was Maggie Schoepke. “It was my first time participating in the 50-hour film festival,” she said. “It was both much more fun and time-consuming than I had ever envisioned.”

The challenge brings out the strengths and weaknesses in everyone, allowing students to see and understand what they need to work on to become a stronger filmmaker. Bremer said, “The hardest part of this process was trying to work without sleep. Creating a story that we can invest in and people can relate to is difficult, but trying to do so without sleep brings it to another level of difficulty.” While sleep was the challenging part for Jonathan, it was working with other people’s strengths that became a challenge for Tawnie Kozora, who also participated this year. She offered insight into working with others, specifically friends. “What I learned was that just because they are your friends doesn’t mean you have to work together. Everyone has their strengths, but if you have the same strengths as your whole group, there isn’t much variety in what you do. Try and work with different people and try doing something that you aren’t comfortable with.”

The 50-hour film festival gives students the opportunity to test their limits. Students have the chance to work on something that will push them to step out of their comfort zones. Some students loved the experience because they had the opportunity to work with friends on a project that was not for a grade. They worked hard because they cared personally about the outcome. While competing in the 50-hour film festival is difficult and stressful, it has proven to be an exciting and beneficial experience for all students who have participated. It has always been a highlight for students involved in filmmaking, and it will continue to be for many years to come.

After the 50 hours was over, the groups were required to submit their movies and wait for them to be shown and judged at the film screening. The screening was held on May 3 at the Globe theater. At the screening the winners of the film festival were revealed. While all of the films had their own take on the situation and they all represented different things, only one team could win it all. The first place team was composed of Kristyn Ewing, Maggie Schoepke, Michael Kellow, and Victoria Bledsoe. While they received first place, they also named 2nd and 3rd place for the festival. The second place team was composed of Jack Dawdy, Dan Chiofolo, Dale Shelburne, and Sean Pope. Finally, the 3rd place team was composed of Jonathan Bremer, Garrett Streeter, James Hudson, and Joseph Jeralds. All of the teams competed and created wonderfully creative films.

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