Kopachuck Middle School student Blake Kelley was pumped about participating in the Gig Harbor Film Festival’s 72 Hour Film Competition.
“I have wanted to compete in the (competition) for two years and I think I’ll do all right,” he said.
Kelley and his teammate, Connor Bennett, worked hard on their film, a Lego police chase featuring a criminal stealing an RV, done in stop motion animation. The duo raced to meet Sunday’s deadline and in the end spent about seven hours editing.
The competition — which was open to teams in the age groups of 13 and under, 14 to 18 and 19 and over — featured seven teams from Kopachuck and provided an opportunity for young filmmakers to partner with the Gig Harbor Film Festival.
Each team consisted of one to five people who were charged with writing, filming, editing and scoring a five-minute short film in a 72-hour period.
I didn’t join for the awards — I did it to entertain people.
Blake Kelley, aspiring filmmaker
Kelley acknowledged his team would love to win but said, “I didn’t join for the awards — I did it to entertain people.”
Each film was required to incorporate two props and four elements to prove that it was shot during the 72-hour time period: a baseball cap, chewing gum, a scream and the statement, “Wow, that is awesome,” said Lance Richards, creative director of the competition.
The contest has increased in popularity over the last few years.
“(We) used to have seven or eight teams participate and last year there were 14 teams,” Richards said.
This year, 22 teams entered the competition, he said.
The competition allows students to experience making a short film, and all the frustrations and challenges that it involves.
In addition to Kelley, two other Kopachuck students met to discuss their experience making their short film.
First-time competitor Madlynn Hale’s 13-and-under team consisted of five members.
“We were good at working together. We joked around a lot and improvised and finished it very easily,” she said, adding that of course they wanted to win, but they also wanted to have fun.
Their film played with the notion that when people chewed gum, their personalities changed.
“We learned the ropes and figured things out,” she said.
There were three classmates on Ian Belton’s team, which competed in the 14 to 18 age group.
Belton, who plans to go into film to direct and produce, is already choosing his college. His team won in its age category last year and this year he focused on producing the film.
“My friend wrote it and decided where the story went, and I did a lot of the preparation, and was the person in charge but gave creative freedom to teammate Nicolas Rooney,” he said.
Belton team’s film was about a dystopian game show where two child contestants are pitted in a room to find key words to let them out because their memory has been wiped out. His crew worked until the very last minute to finish the film.
“We uploaded our film and had ten minutes left and it was only 40 percent uploaded,” he said.
Kopachuck Spanish, yearbook and multi-media productions teacher Alexa Shanafelt supported the students as they worked on their project.
“Most of the students have taken one of my classes in the past and they did all the filming and editing on their own time,” said Shanafelt, who provided some of the equipment for the competition.
According to Shanafelt, the students were very enthusiastic and met on their own to work on their films.
As time to submit drew closer, the teams met Friday, Saturday and Sunday and wrote, acted, edited and uploaded their film by Sunday at 7 p.m., she said.
Judges considered creativity, acting, editing, audio and scoring, common elements, elemental value, cinematography, production design and technical specs when making their final decision.
On Sunday (April 2), a winner in each category will be announced and all films entered will be shown in a ceremony at Peninsula High School.
I love watching the project grow and getting feedback from the kids.
Lance Richards, creative director
Richards, a filmmaker who graduated from the New York Film Academy, has been with the film festival for two years and said he looks forward to this competition each year.
“I love watching the project grow and getting feedback from the kids,” he said. “I like seeing kids that participated in the first year coming back and participating again and seeing the growth of their film making.”
The pressure for the young filmmakers was definitely on during those last few hours.
Last year, Belton’s team won the competition but faced some last-minute challenges.
“The night before it was due I realized there was no sound. I had never turned on the mic,” he said.
This year things went a bit more smoothly for Belton’s crew.
“I think we have a fighting chance,” he said.
72 Hour Film Competition Showing and Awards Ceremony
When: 2 p.m. Sunday (April 2)
Where: Peninsula High School Auditorium
Cost: Tickets cost $15 for adults, $10 for children 12 and younger, and can be purchased through Eventbrite on the Gig Harbor Film Festival’s website, gigharborfilmfestival.org.