Cash prizes and honors were given out on Saturday, June 15, for the Columbia Gorge 48 Hour Film Project, in front of a full house at the Columbia Center for the Arts in Hood River.
According to event organizer David Fox of FoxCard Media Productions, the $500 top prize went to film team “Jeffster,” led by William Bryan of Stevenson, Wash., for its entry “Gnome Sweet Gnome.”
“I think Gnome Sweet Gnome was shot with a basic, hand-held camcorder, which is in the spirit of this competition,” said Fox.
SOME QUESTIONS FILM JUDGES ASK
A judges scorecard was used to evaluate each film and included these questions:
How creative was the use of the prop?
How well did the film’s story make use of the chosen thematic question?
How would you judge the overall impact of the film based solely on the merits of its content?
Their story centered on a garden gnome that accidentally gets sold at a garage sale and its owner’s attempts to retrieve the much loved-object.
This entry represented one of the project’s designated movie themes, “How far would you go for love?” that teams could design a movie around.
According to the competition’s website, the Columbia Gorge 48 Hour Film Project is a short film competition where teams need to plan, shoot and edit a completed 4 to 7 minute short film in 48 hours. Fox called the event a success, even though the number of teams was down from last year.
“We had six teams this year. I had at least five other teams that were interested but they couldn’t do it because of their schedule. I expect even more interest next year, so maybe we’ll look to start later in June next time,” Fox said.
Movie entries were judged solely on creative content and not technical production skills.
“I think there’s a lot of interest in filmmaking in the Hood River valley, but people are scared to try it because they feel they can’t compete with what they see in Hollywood films — it’s sort of a ‘perfectionist paralysis’ which holds people back from even trying to make a film. This film project takes that out of the equation and makes filmmaking accessible to all people,” Fox said.
Team “Tra la la” took second place with their film “I Don't Like to Talk About It” which was done in a musical style.
Team “MOS” took third with their film "Seven Minutes in Heaven." According to Fox, this movie was “awesome because from start to finish the whole movie was done in a single take. No edits were done. If you were to award a ‘best made film’ this one was probably it.”
Fox was not on the judging panel, but he was the only person who came up with the criteria for the films.
Teams this year were based in Hood River, Stevenson, and White Salmon with at least 65 people involved in making the six films.
The top two winning films will be shown at the next Mt. Hood Film Festival, and a total of $850 in prize money was awarded for this year’s 48-hour film project.
The films will be on FoxCard Media's Youtube channel and will be linked to www.foxcardmedia.com. soon.
David Fox organized the 48-hour film project so that film teams had something he calls “creative limitation,” built into the filmmaking process.
“This film project was birthed out of an idea of ‘creative limitation.’ In that, if you place restraints on individuals or a group’s creative process — then what they would come up with could be something special.
“Some of these teams had never picked up a camera before, let alone edit a film. But all of them had to craft a story while figuring out how to incorporate the requirements given to them,” Fox said.
Those requirements included solving riddles and dealing with a “curve ball” to keep everyone on their toes.
“Beyond the regular judging scorecard, the teams got points for movie quotes and actions that appeared in their films. They were also given a riddle that — if they could answer — would lead them to the location of another film element. If they added it to their film, the judges would give them extra points.
“They were also given a ‘Curve Ball’ which worked like this: at some point during the 48 hours I sent them one more film requirement that could give them 5 points. I sent that e-mail to them about 30 hours into the project,” Fox said.
Fox believes that because of these film requirements, even the teams who had little experience made some “really amazing stuff.”
“The project requirements are carefully chosen because you have to have something that restrains their creativity and makes their brain work overtime while not being too specific. If it is too specific, then they are no longer making their own film but rather making someone else’s,” Fox said.
The film competition had an earnable points section and judge’s scorecard points section.
“Every team this year got a perfect ‘Earnable Points’ score. So it all came down to the judges to determine the winner,” Fox said.
Fox noted that film themes and requirements can change each year, which can make it difficult to get the maximum amount of diversity in film content out of the contest, so the process has been on a bit of a learning curve.
“This year, the project sponsors each gave a thematic question and three of the teams picked the same question, so their films were rather similar. So this process isn't perfect, but we're working on it. Plus it's a little difficult because the rules for the contest can change every year,” Fox said.
The diverse judging panel included Arlene Burns, who has worked for the Telluride Mountain and Jackson Hole film festivals, Mike Glover, the new executive director for the Hood River Chamber of Commerce, who has experience with the Bend Film Festival, Sudeep Burman, an experienced filmmaker and Gregory Smith, the new executive director for the Columbia Center for the Arts.
Fox couldn’t say for sure why the judges scored the “Gnome” movie as the best based on the questions on the scorecard.
“I wanted the voting to be anonymous, and even though I know who the judges were, I don't know how each of them personally scored the films. I just had them mix the scorecards up in a pile and I didn't even look at them until I got home that night. However, I am happy with the result,” Fox said.
“There isn't a person who sees these films who would disagree with the fact that the winning film wasn't the ‘best made’ film. And it's hard for people to wrap their mind around a film competition that doesn't seek out the best made film.
“But I honestly think we are on to something special here, and I feel the team that won honestly inhabits the heart of what this film project is about,” Fox said.
Fox is optimistic about the future of his 48-hour film project and hopes that the event piques the interest of budding filmmakers in the Gorge.
“It was really neat to see all the families with little kids that came together to make a film, I’m glad for that aspect of the project,” Fox said.
The 3rd Annual Columbia Gorge 48 Hour Film Project dates are already set for 2014. Launch meeting will happen on June 20 at 5:30 p.m. in the theater at Columbia Center for the Arts with a 6 p.m. kickoff. 48 hours later on June 22, the films will be due. The showcase is planned for Saturday June 28, 2014 at 7:30 p.m. at CCA.