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48 hours: Students spend long weekend producing short films

ATHENS, Ohio (Feb. 26, 2007) -- Although billions of people worldwide watched the best filmmakers vie for Oscars this weekend, hundreds packed Baker University Center to see Ohio University filmmakers vie for a different prize in the fifth annual Shoot Out Student Video Contest.

Second screening of Shoot Out contest films scheduled for tonight

Film lovers who missed their chance to see the entries from the fifth annual Shoot Out Student Video Contest can check out a second screening at 8:30 p.m. tonight (Monday, Feb. 26) at the Baker University Center Theatre.

The screening is free and open to the public.

Students produced the eclectic films celebrated Sunday night in Athens in just one weekend. Among the entries were a musical about a kidnapping, a sweet romance with Tupperware as a prop, and a film noir in which "Morty Dunkleman: Private Investigator" figures out who cat-napped the pet of a bombshell dame named Carmen Sutra.

Contest organizers gave thirty-five teams their assignments and turned them loose Friday at 6 p.m. Their task was to each write, shoot, edit and produce a three- to five minute film to be screened and judged just 48 hours later. Organizers assigned each team a film genre, a prop that was required to appear in the film and a line of dialogue required to be spoken. Faculty members from the School of Telecommunications in the Scripps College of Communication judged the films.

The winning film, "Vicious Cycle" from the production team calling itself The Sheepleaser, is a comedy that looks at keeping whites separated from "coloreds" -- in the laundry. Second place was awarded to 2nd Try Productions for its mystery, which turned into an irreverent spoof of a children's show, dubbed "Lou's Clues." Cherry Tree Productions earned third place for its musical kidnapping caper, "Snatch'd." In the "underclassmen division" (composed of first-year and sophomore students), Wompus Productions was recognized for its romance in which two students pine for each other from afar, finally meet and see their relationship blossom. Tupperware is involved; how won't be revealed here.

Sean Cole, a fifth-year video production major from Groveport, Ohio, was the producer for Wild Rover Production's entry "Desk Jockeys." His group was assigned to shoot an instructional film and was required to use a highlighting marker as a prop and include the line of dialogue, "Wasn't your hair blonde the last time I saw you?"

Producing the film in just one weekend was intense, said Cole. After receiving their assignment Friday evening, Cole and his eight-person team finished their script at 2 a.m. Saturday morning and completed their preproduction planning by 4 a.m. After catching a few hours of sleep, the team started shooting at 9 a.m. Saturday and wrapped shooting at 6 p.m. Team members spent Sunday editing their film and finished just before the 6 p.m. deadline. 

The tight deadline forced the team to streamline its approach to producing the film, which features a frustrated student struggling to write a thesis. Keeping with the assigned genre of instructional film, the "Desk Jockeys" appear to assist the characters -- two talking markers, a bottle of correction fluid and a stapler with Tourette's syndrome.

"We just cut out all the fat," Cole said. "We worried most about the storytelling and that's what filmmaking is all about. If you don't have a story, you don't have a film."

As Cole and his team experienced, the contest encourages quick thinking. Although it might be rare for graduates working in the film industry to produce a film in just 48 hours, the competition has very practical applications. 

"The industry looks for people who are resourceful and problem-solvers," said Roger Cooper, director of the School of Telecommunications. "This kind of thing forces our students to develop those important attributes."

Frederick Lewis, associate professor of telecommunications, has been the program's shepherd, helping grow the field of entrants from four teams in its first year. Teamwork is a vital part of the process in the Shootout and the industry, he said.

"Television and film are such collaborative industries," said Lewis. "So this gets them to go out and pull together and work together and think on their feet."

Although thirty-five teams signed up for the competition, only 23 teams completed films. But even failure has practical applications.

"Hopefully even those teams learn something from it so next year they know what to do," said Cooper.

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Media Contact: College of Communication External Relations Coordinator Erin Roberts, 740-593-0030 or erin.j.roberts.1@ohio.edu

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