News Column

Gig Harbor 72-hour film competition accepting entries

June 25, 2013

YellowBrix

June 25--The Gig Harbor Film Festival has opened registration for its 72-hour competition, a three-day team filmmaking challenge that the festival puts on every summer.

Teams of no more than five can complete a registration package until 5 p.m. Friday. The forms are available at the festival's office, next to the Galaxy Theatres at Uptown Gig Harbor.

The contest will begin at 6 p.m. July 25 and ends at the same time on July 28. Teams will have to conceive, write, shoot and edit a film of five minutes or less in just three days.

"It's a huge challenge -- a great challenge -- but quite an undertaking," said Josh Sherwin, the film festival's project manager and the volunteer coordinator who is in charge of planning the 72-hour film competition.

The challenge is broken into two categories, 18 and younger and 19 and older, and awards and a $250 cash prize are given to the winning films that will be selected in each division by a panel of judges.

The winners will be announced after the competition's screening, which will occur on the last day of the Gig Harbor Film Festival. This year, the event will take place at Galaxy Theatres on Oct. 20.

In order to keep the films spontaneous, the festival gives the 72-hour filmmakers four "common elements" that they must incorporate into their project, just before the filming process begins. Last year, those elements included a prop (a map), an action (waving), a situation (a character gets startled and knocks something over) and a line of dialogue ("What do you hope to gain by doing that?").

Those surprise additions keep filmmakers on their toes, Sherwin said, and they also factor into the contest's judging. Extra points are awarded for more natural incorporation of the common elements.

"We don't want to guide the direction of their film," he said. "But when someone does it well, you recognize and really appreciate it. It really challenges the creative aspect of filmmaking."

Last year's competition received a record 23 participating teams, whose members include people of all ages and with a wide variety of experience, Sherwin said.

For filmmakers without much experience, the festival will offer a workshop for 72-hour participants for the first time this year. The three-hour event will be held at the festival office on July 20, led by festival operations manager Emilie Firn.

Firn, who recently completed a graduate program in documentary filmmaking at the University of the Arts London, said the workshop is intended to introduce participants to basic filmmaking skills, such as camera operation and editing, as well as discuss essential time-management tips that are necessary for such a short competition.

"A lot of people have all these great ideas about locations and scripts," Firn said. "But, during this short of a time period, you really need to condense to just a few locations."

Sherwin visited several teams on location during last year's competition, and he recorded their productions. Since the contest draws everyone from professional film producers to teenagers, and because the festival does not provide teams with equipment, Sherwin said he saw teams using everything from Hollywood-style camera tracks to iPhones to make their films.

"I was amazed at all the different stuff being used," he said. "You get a little bit of everything."

That variety is displayed on the big screen at the competition's showing, which sold out last year. Sherwin said the 72-hour film competition's mission is to educate and entertain, and then for filmmakers to get to see their finished product screened before an audience.

"That's the thrill, to see what you created up on the big screen," he said.

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(c)2013 The Peninsula Gateway (Gig Harbor, Wash.)

Visit The Peninsula Gateway (Gig Harbor, Wash.) at www.thenewstribune.com/gigharbor

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