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|September 24 - 30, 2009
24-hour competition returns for sixth year
by Nick Reed
It is a special breed of film with special types of names: “guerrilla cinema,” “drive-by filmmaking,” “micro-budget movies.” Risky and unconventional, this approach has become a cult formula among filmmakers over the years, an approach relying on sheer artistic passion rather than depth of pockets. John Waters, Robert Rodriguez, Darin Aronofsky and Spike Lee are among the renowned filmmakers who began their career filming these types of raw, independent works.
Friday evening marks the sixth annual Boulder Shoot Out 24 Hour Filmmaking Festival, which takes this already extreme style and gives it a unique twist, challenging the artists to undergo a mission of the Jack Bauer variety: write, shoot, and edit a short video in just 24 hours. After the time is up, the top 10 submissions, chosen by a panel of 30 volunteer judges, will be shown at the Boulder Theater on Sunday.
Michael Conti, executive director and founder of the festival, said that one great thing about the Shoot Out is that it provides an increasingly rare creative outlet.
“We’re in a society where we are kind of conditioned to watch things other people have produced,” he explains. “We watch TV, and we watch other people’s reality on TV. We can actually control how we tell our stories, because we all have stories and we all have experiences. That’s the best part for me right there, to see what everyone comes up with.”
The competitors are given a handful of simple yet specific rules that limit any pre-meditated ideas each crew might have had. Moments before starting, participants are briefed with a list of nearly a dozen things that must be in the movie to ensure 24-hour spontaneity.
Whether it is a quote or a number of items, they must be used during the filming. Last year, the item themes were political, which kept things topical. The final product can be no longer than seven minutes, including credits.
Even though that may seem rather low for a runtime, consider the art form. While a painter needs a brush, a videographer needs an army. Synchronization between the actors and crew members is vital to achieve every shot, no matter how seemingly meticulous or straightforward. A single-day deadline begins to look even more daunting after factoring in rewrites of the script to incorporate the top-secret list of items. And, to make things harder, Conti insists that all films must be edited in the camera.
“The reason we chose to do this is because it’s a limitation that actually allows you some creativity,” he said.
Although every approach to tackling the Shoot Out fluctuates, returning director and producer Ash Albinika, whose zombie film won the award for Best Comedy and Art Direction in 2008, explained her approach to duplicating that success in 2009.
“The crew is twice as large this year, and we even have someone to help us with fight choreography, which I’m most excited about,” Albinika said.
“Facebook was a great tool for me; I reached old high school friends who have decided to come and help. I believe organization is very important. I think we’d go insane without it. This is such a finite and oriented task; I can’t imagine coming out with no plan like some others do,” she said. “We were feeling everything so well, and we knew that we’d win something; our confidence was warranted last year.”
Other returning directors have focused on improving their weakness from the year before. Angela Palermo, who picked up a camera for the first time two weeks before shooting in the festival last year, left with an honorable mention and a determination to be on top of her game this time.
“Networking was such an important thing for me. I met one of the judges from last year and ended up taking a scriptwriting workshop class with him. It really helped me improve in that area,” Palermo said.
While there are many persistent and die-hard fans that are coming back for more, Conti notes that the numbers of young newcomers are increasing rapidly. “The area I seem to see the most growth in this event is the 17-and-under category,” Conti said, noting that 19 teams out of 53 are 17 and under this year. With this surge in popularity, he has recently announced the future expansion of the festival, which will launch in Cheyenne this October.
As an admired annual event for hundreds of people, the positive reception and wonderful achievements have certainly brought people closer to both Boulder and the art of cinema. “It has changed the way I look at movies,” Palermo says. “I have a different appreciation now since I’ve been a part of the production. It is a wonderful experience.”
On the Bill:
Registration for the competition begins at 4 p.m. Friday, Sept. 25 in front of the Boulder County Courthouse. Shoot Out commences roughly two hours later. Top 10 showing at the Boulder Theater Sunday, Sept. 27, 1 p.m. 2032 14th St., Boulder
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