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Students race to finish films in 48 hours for 'Shoot Out'

March 4, 2005

By Sarah Kennedy

Ohio University students wrote, directed, produced and starred in 26 original short films the weekend of Feb. 21, as part of Ohio University's third annual 48-hour film contest.

"Climax," an action-adventure film by student group Par-T-Com, took first place and a $200 prize. Wrong Man Productions team and Team Nighthawk's tied for second place, receiving prizes of $75 each. A new prize this year, best underclass video, was awarded to The Sharks Total Quality Operations Team of Berea, which received $100. Telecommunications, film and theater professors served as judges.

First-place winner Par-T-Com is best known for catapulting its film "Detonate," into the national spotlight by winning mtvU's "Best Film on Campus" contest last November. Par-T-Com made "Detonate" during last year's Shoot Out, but missed the 48-hour deadline by two minutes and was disqualified for the competition. Before this year's contest, team member John Swartz, said he hoped they would finish early-and they did, by one hour. "Because we had already done it before, we had a better understanding of the time," he said.

"We're really satisfied that we pulled off the project," Swartz said. "When we finished it, we knew we had something we could really be proud of - winning was just icing on the cake. All of the teams came away with something they can be proud of."

The Par-T-Com team is: Erin McMahon, John Swartz, Devin Doyle, Spencer Houck, Jordan Blum, Nola Ruzek, Brenden MacCredie, Colin Masters, Jim Cartwright, Mike Lottes, Nick Hamilton and Zack Nocera.

In addition to the strict 48-hour time limit, each of the 26 student teams were randomly assigned one prop, one line of dialogue and a genre with which to work. At 6:45 Friday evening, leaders from each team met to receive their assignments. Freshman telecommunications student Amy Graves attended the meeting representing team One Eye Productions.

With assigned genres like "film noir" or "reality show," props like a rubber stamp or hair dye and lines like "You have to color inside the lines," there is no way team members can prepare much in advance.

Swartz and his team met ahead of time to discuss basic plans for the contest, he said. "We came together to get a list of props and costumes we all have, and knowing where we can shoot. But we try not to think about it too much (beforehand)...and just take it one step at a time."

Before the contest began, Graves and her all-freshmen team met to go over everyone's crew positions. "We've talked about different places we might shoot," Graves said on Friday afternoon. "But we're just going to go with it when we get our assignments," she said.

After throwing out five or six possible ideas, One Eye Productions started to film their "mocumentary" about "sciaphobia," the fear of shadows, Saturday morning.

Unfortunately, the One Eye Productions team did not get its film in by the 7:30 p.m. deadline on Sunday, but finished it before the screening was over, so "Sciaphobia" was shown. "Even though we didn't get it in on time, it was a great learning experience," said Kyra Boff, the film's director of photography. Although she admits the team did borrow a camera from upperclassmen, Boff said, "It was the first time where we really couldn't depend on upperclassmen to help us do things."

Frederick Lewis, telecommunications professor, said he was particularly happy to see so many students, especially freshmen and sophomores participating in the contest this year. "It's important to get involved in projects like this as soon as possible so you can learn from them," he explained.

"(Shoot Out) is really a unifying, community-building event for the School of Telecommunications," Lewis said. With 26 teams participating this year, Swartz said, "I think the contest is only going to get bigger next year."

Participating in the Shoot Out contest is a great way to learn outside of the classroom, Graves said. "We're all doing this as a learning experience."

Swartz and freshman Katy Kelly helped organize Shoot Out. Kelly shot footage of teams during the competition, and Swartz is in the process of editing the footage for a behind-the-scenes documentary.

Sarah Kennedy is a student writer with the College of Communication

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