What would you say if someone handed you a video camera and asked you to produce, cast, direct, shoot and edit a film in two days? Can’t be done?
Think again. The Klondike Institute of Art and Culture’s (KIAC) 48 Hour Film Competition offers just such a challenge this coming weekend.
Here’s how it goes. Friday, 5:30 pm: competitors are assigned cameras and editing stations.
Then they’re off to shoot, edit and tear their hair out, with only a few rules: films can be 10 minutes maximum; no previously shot material can be used; all material used in the films must be owned by the filmmaker; and any copyrighted materials included in the work must be legally cleared for use.
The film must be handed in, or uploaded online, by 5:30 pm on Sunday. No exceptions.
It was Dawsonite Evelyn Pollock’s need to challenge herself that sparked the first competition in 2002. She had just finished teaching a workshop in documentary filmmaking when the idea came to her to start the “Ruthless 48 Hour Documentary Film Competition.”
Pollock organized the annual competition until 2005, after which her time went to other projects and the competition faded away.
A few years later, Dan Sokolowski arrived in Dawson City to coordinate the Dawson City International Short Film Festival. He revived the 48 Hour Film Competition and opened it up to all genres, not just documentaries.
Lulu Keating won last year’s audience favourite award with her eight-minute film, Her Man Plan. A veteran filmmaker currently developing two feature films and a documentary, Keating is busy planning this year’s entry.
Why would an experienced feature filmmaker want to enter a 48-hour competition?
“It reminds me why I chose film as a means of expression; it loosens me up and keeps my skills honed,” Keating says.
“Making a living in film is a serious business. This competition allows me to play in the medium of film.”
Keating also feels the event allows people in the community a chance to explore beyond what they might normally think they can do creatively.
Rookie Karen MacKay agrees. “I decided to give it a try this year because there’s lots of support from the artistic community,” MacKay says. “They really make it easy with such a low cost and the availability of equipment.”
MacKay’s previous experience? Films for the Dawson City One Minute Film Festival in 2009 and 2010. She’ll be taking an animation workshop before this year’s competition and plans to incorporate both animation and live footage into her film.
“I already feel the pressure,” says MacKay nervously. “The filming will be fun because it’s outdoors, but I’ll probably be spending more time indoors editing, and I hate being indoors!”
At the end of the competition, all submitted films are screened at KIAC. A jury of three local “celebrities” votes on each film. The winning film will be showcased at the Dawson City International Short Film Festival.
Last year, Evan Rensch submitted a film about his dishwashing job, but then couldn’t make the screening because he had to work.
“I had to get someone else to bring my film in,” Rensch recalls. “It got there 15 minutes before the deadline.”
A passionate photographer, Rensch plans to join the fun again this year.
“It’s like a sport,” he says. “It’s stressful, intense, but fun.”
And making a film in 48 hours levels the playing field. “A timeline limits what you can do, creating boundaries. Everything produced is raw – it’s a liberating feeling.”
Dan Sokolowski hopes that this year will be even more popular than last year.
The 2010 competition saw 11 groups (individual and team) enter films and 65 people attend Sunday night’s screening.
Last year also saw the first film entry from outside Dawson City. Ed Westerhuis won the Best “Foreign Film” Award – submitting his film all the way from Whitehorse.
“In the end,” says Sokolowski, “it’s really all about just having some fun.”
The 48 Hour Film Competition is January 28-30. Details and fees are at www.kiac.org or 867-993-5005.
Films made outside Dawson can be submitted online; Sokolowski will provide instructions.