News Column

Quick flicks: 3 Minute Film Festival

June 7, 2013


June 07--Jerry Barron maintains a practical attitude when it comes to curating the 3-Minute Film Fest (Pasatiempo is a sponsor of this year's festival), which screens on Saturday, June 8, at the Lensic Performing Arts Center. "If you don't like a certain movie, at most you have to wait three minutes, and it's over," he said.

Barron's Mission Control production company has hosted the festival almost every year since 1998. Barron believes three minutes is more than sufficient for the task at hand: "I personally think three minutes is a very long time. It's possible to tell a good story in 30 seconds. As with any sort of art, the number-one priority is to engage your audience -- entertain them and get out as soon as you are done." This year's fest features 49 movies ranging in length from a matter of seconds to about three minutes. Northern New Mexico residents contributed about 20 of the entries, and some foreign titles made their way into the mix too. Barron said he received about 350 submissions this year, which is more than 10 times the number he got in 1998. "The first year we did this we showed every entry we received -- exactly 28."

This year's lineup includes documentaries, animated films, horror pictures, music videos, comedies, dramas, and abstract mixed-media works. Jimi La Pointe's Mime Freaks pays homage to silent-film comedy in its tale of mimes involved in murder, while Jeremy Galante and David Cowles' Sniffles is a cute cartoon about a dog who follows his nose -- because it has jumped off his snout and run away.

Hireling, made by James Blackburn and Ben Palmer, celebrates Quentin Tarantino's crime melodramas in abbreviated form. Mark Mazzeo's Say Something follows the old "boy meets girl, boy loses girl" romantic-comedy route while complicating matters with a can of pepper spray and an overexposed derri re.

Rumble at the Pad of the Stay-at-Home Dad -- brought to us by the same people who made Battle at the House of Unwashed Dishes, according to a title card -- is a domestic kung fu comedy by Derek Rugsaken. Lot 254, by Toby Meakins, is a creepy, to-the-point horror movie that seems to have jumped off the pages of a 1950s pulp comic book.

"My motivation is to encourage amateur filmmakers and to give young people and people who have never made a movie before the idea that they can make a movie," Barron said.

Catherine Carter is one of those people who's just beginning to experiment with filmmaking. Her background includes still photography and journalism, which may explain why her three-minute film 1930 draws on those talents to tell how the Great Depression wiped out the hopes, the dreams, and even the souls of many people. Carter, a resident of Taos, said she made 1930 in April while visiting friends who live on a stretch of always foggy, rainy northern California coast. Her parents came of age during the Great Depression, and she still recalls her grandfather telling how he survived those years by eating onion sandwiches. The film reflects on the impact of the current national recession, she said.

For Carter, making a three-minute movie was anything but a snap. "I'm coming from the still-photography world, where I take a picture and I've frozen a tenth of a second in time on film," she said. "So adjusting to time-based media like this has been interesting. I tell stories briefly; I tend not to ramble."

Palmer, an Albuquerque resident, said that three minutes was almost too much time for Hireling. "People do have a short attention span these days. I even thought Hireling was slow, with so few camera movements and so little dialogue. You don't have to tell everything, because the audience does not have to be told outright everything that is going on. Give them the gist of it; they will pick up the rest."

He and Blackburn shot their picture just off the intersection of Coors Boulevard and Montoya Street in Albuquerque in less than six hours over two days in March. They play the two leads, and actress Destiny Dickinson portrays the third character; all are hired assassins. Their initial goal was just to try out their new video equipment. "James wrote the basic script in about five minutes," Palmer said. Passing joggers expressed some concern that the trio was running around with prop guns, but other than that, it was an uneventful shoot, he said. Palmer and Blackburn have written and filmed a three-minute sequel to Hireling and are working on the third short film in what has turned out to be a series.

Barron noted that national events and cultural fads can influence a festival's offerings. In years past, the fest has been dominated by either dark dramas or zombie films, but this year's lineup includes a healthy amount of comedies -- suggesting that filmmakers want to offer pleasing diversions from depressing headlines.

And in that vein, keep your eye out for Things Girlfriends Say, made by a group of Espanola Valley High School students, which will probably amuse audiences with its spot-on reflections on young people. Various girls spout one-liners to their off-screen boyfriends: "Why did you tweet her?" "I've gained so much weight." And of course, "Are you even paying attention to me?"

Of course we are paying attention -- for three minutes, at least.


--3-Minute Film Fest

--7 p.m. Saturday, June 8

--Lensic Performing Arts Center, 211 W. San Francisco St.

--$12, $8 for children under 12; 988-1234,


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