Fringe contest fosters London filmmakers

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

As students this time of year force their ideas onto paper, edit as many times as their sleepless brains will allow and rush to hand their work in on time, they become intimately aware of the process of writing under pressure. Participants of the recent 62-Hour Film Contest were similarly aware of that process, having only 62 hours to write, shoot and edit a short film to compete against others like it.

The screening and awards for the first contest of its kind held by the London Fringe took place last Sunday with a screening of most of the films and the announcement of the winners. The Wolf Performance Hall was at about half capacity for the event â€" a symptom, perhaps, of the rather hefty request the Fringe was making of audiences to spend a warm Sunday evening indoors. The crowd was polite and respectful of the films, each of which proved the ingenuity â€" and at times the insanity â€" that writing under pressure can create.

The films were required to contain four elements, which the participants were unaware of until the contest began, to create a challenge and to force creativity in the filmmakers. The idea of adding four required elements at the last minute was, for the most part, a good idea as many of the films integrated the elements in interesting and unique ways. However, other films were notably hurt by the forced elements and added them in rather clumsily.

The contest highlighted some very creative shortcuts the local filmmakers found to complete their films without hurting the finished product. While the same low-budget feel of almost all the films â€" with some noteworthy exceptions such as Brains and the third place film, The Dirty Bird â€" added a certain charm to some, it came across as irritating in others.

Although the Fringe’s contest set out to highlight the talent of filmmakers in London and encourage involvement in the growing film scene, it did come off as a little too forgiving. Every film was given an honour of some kindâ€"including those not shownâ€"and after the 10th certificate it began to feel like London Fringe was that gym teacher handing out participation ribbons.

Many of the films were quite engaging and there were serious contenders for the prize of $500 plus free editing time for future projects. However, there were some groups that did not edit their entries enough, that could not utilize the four elements properly or that had ambitions too big for the time crunch. The Fringe, in its excitement to shine a light on those that succeeded under the conditions, may have benefited from wishing the participants better luck next year rather than nullifying the competitive element by handing out a “thanks-for-trying” award to everyone.

Overall, the film contest managed to show considerable potential for the future. The Fringe’s interest in filmmaking in London was evident throughout the show and their support for the community through this contest is a monumental step toward fostering filmmakers in the city. However, there were also important lessons in the contest that will hopefully be taken into account in order to improve the contest in the future.

London Fringe 62-Hour Film Contest winners

1st Prize: To Who It May Concern,Team Discovery

2nd Prize: Denfield Road, Sunny Day Jazz Productions

3rd Prize: The Dirty Bird, Grimbrothers Entertainment

Best Screenplay: Brains, Wreckless Crew Productions

Most Original: Buy the Ticket, Take the Ride, The Notorious Troupe

Share this article on:

Facebook | DiggDigg |

Copyright © 2008 The Gazette