Sunday, August 3, 2003

Weekend 'game' will have Tristate abuzz with filmmakers

By Margaret A. McGurk
The Cincinnati Enquirer

[IMAGE] Filmmaker Scott Wegener
Don't be surprised if you stumble across a camera crew when you are out and about the Tristate next weekend.

More than 25 teams of filmmakers, from seasoned professionals to novices, will be racing to make short films in the space of two days for a competition called The 48-Hour Film Project.

"This is going to be huge for the local filmmaking community," said Scott Wegener, a video journalist and creator of local low-budget features Spider's Web and Golem. "It's one of the biggest things we've had a chance to do around here."

The brainchild of two Washington film and video producers, the project calls for each team to build its movie from the ground up, beginning with a Friday night drawing. That is when each team is randomly assigned a genre (comedy, mystery, drama, etc.), a character, a prop and a line of dialogue that must be incorporated in the short.

Black Box, Brian Bergen
Dogmeat, Scott Wegener
IDEA, Ryan Smith
Identity, Alex Johnson
If It Moves, Shoot It!, Britt Warner
Impact Video Productions, Christian Appleby
Jeboda Beasli Productions, Devon Sayers
KAN, Mary Nagel
Pentangular Pictures, Craig Spinks
Pirates, Brandon LeBeau
Sheen, Rasheen Crawley
Stupid Johnny, Molly Donnellon
Team Banzai, Adam N. Duke
Team WCET, Nick Baute
The Collective, Ericka M. Smith
The Countering Group, Lonna Kingsbury
The Young Professionals, Chris Strobel
The Red Team, Shawn Adams
The Ringers, Jason Brown
Timeless Image, Christopher Ratledge
TVACOM, Dave Thies
Pixel Farmers, Mark Stucker
Watertower Pictures, Dan Reynolds
WHO, Jeff Winkelman
Teams have until Sunday night to write, shoot and edit their work, which will be screened Monday at the Madison Theatre in Covington. The one judged best will compete with winners from other cities for the national title.

Prizes for 2003 have not been specified. Last year's winning team received an Apple G4 computer and top entries were compiled on a DVD available through the event Web site (

Other competitions offer richer awards - Chrysler sponsors a short-film fest with a $1 million top prize, for instance. Similar short-deadline events, such as Atlanta-based Stop Watch Cinema, operate under nearly identical conditions.

But when a member of the Southern Ohio Filmmakers Association posted an e-mail note about the 48-Hour Project in June, it swiftly captured the imagination of local artists. Within a month, so many teams were assembled that organizers used a lottery to pick the final line-up.

Some of those who missed the 24-team cutoff are talking about going ahead and shooting movies, in a kind of parallel event, over the same weekend for exhibition later.

Jenelle Rose Murray, who is organizing the recently-announced Queen City Film and Video Festival, has suggested the event at Union Terminal on Sept. 13 be a showcase for the noncompetitor shorts. (For information, go to

Teams must provide their own equipment - digital video cameras, lights, sound systems and computers for editing - as well as personnel. Britt Warner and Mia Caporale, co-producers for a team called If It Moves Shoot It!, are aiming to raise funds for their effort by auctioning off an "executive producer" credit on eBay.

Most participants are looking forward to testing their moviemaking mettle in what amounts to a high-tech, grassroots game.

"I think this is going to be a lot of fun," said Chris Strobel, a Northern Kentucky University teacher who will lead a team dubbed the Young Professionals. He also recruited Red Bull and Tradewinds Tea to donate beverages for the project.

Strobel estimated about 350 people will take part in the weekend. His team includes several names familiar in the local production community, including cinematographer Jeff Barklage and production veteran Zach Riggins of the media arts program at University of Cincinnati's College-Conservatory of Music.

"I don't know what to expect," said Strobel, "but I think it will be an experience to remember."


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