Sunday, January 28, 2007

IFFR Festival Day 2 – The Contest

On the second full day, I walked out of a film (I lasted an hour, and I’m not sure how, as it was a low-tech, long-take, poorly thought-out thing) and on my way back to festival HQ I ran across Adam, his friend Andy who was on break from studying law abroad, and some other woman they knew. They were heading back to the place I just left to pick up cell phones and become part of the One Take Competition 2007. It’s a contest for people to make short films, maximum of two minutes, on cell phones that they provide.

Sounded interesting, so I joined them. I didn’t really think they’d be handing out cell phones to strangers, but it was worth looking into. Sure enough, we found a student of the Willem de Kooning Academy, Henk Jelle Groot, who pulled out four cell phones to give to us for 24 hours. In that time we could make as many 2-minute (or less) movies that we wanted to, as long as they were one take with no editing. We could, however, add text over the picture or title cards at the beginning or end.

As Henk was explaining how to use the phones, and answering some of our questions, I started to use the phone to videotape his presentation. I thought the clip would be disqualified when I let it go to 2 minutes and 5 seconds, but I learned that there is a “trim” function on the phone that we could use to shorten the movie. This clip was safe.

The rest of the day, between going to movies, I made some movies. I kept thinking of text that I wanted to place over it, like the shot of the reflections of water on the metal town square and how it’s all about to turn to ice again. Or the office building where we could watch workers as though they were characters in their own movies, and mine. Or the condemned building where I don’t know what I would write, but it looked cool. Or the Belgian Fries stand at dusk, with the neon overhead, that looked like a set from a Wong Kar-wai film.

I started with the instructional footage, where Henk was giving four strangers brand new cell phones, in their boxes. I called it “Free Phones!” I added text that said everything we were thinking, like: we could have given them fake names, he never checked our I.D., we could just steal these phones… but if we did that we couldn’t enter the contest. My final flourish was the last thing I wrote: “Stealing images” [followed by] “is more fun” [followed by] “than stealing phones.” Bam! It felt good! It was funny. It described and supported the contest. I liked it. That took quite a while to edit, which I did before going to some film, I forget .

I knew I couldn’t do one as intricate as that again, so I chose my other favorite clip: the Belgian fries stand. I trimmed it a little bit and called it “Tribute to Christopher Doyle” because Chris Doyle is the cinematographer who helped make Wong Kar-wei’s images famous. It didn’t seem quite complete, but it was free to enter so what the heck.

Then next day I ran across Adam and Andy in de Doelen (fest HQ). They had shot some movies too. They liked mine (just one typo, but no way to fix it), and Adam was already proclaiming it the winner. He made three, all pretty good city snapshots, but they got a heck of a lot better when he figured out how to add music. I helped him with his titles, too. I can’t remember what his abstract, mobile sculpture piece got called (his best, I think, with an ominous soundtrack), but I helped him come up with “Pathé Ballet” (which shows Andy walking and spinning in front of the Pathé theater, with a silent movie piano underneath) and helped give the inspiration for “Dressed to De Palma” (shots of mannequins in a window with a version of the Psycho theme playing underneath). It’s the music and the titles that make him serious competition for me.

Then I added some nice, spacey music under my Christopher Doyle movie, and it got a whole lot better.

We turned in our phones after finishing the sound. Henk was there with his fellow student, Emile Steginga, a guy who is two meters tall (which translates to 6 feet and nearly 7 inches). They both really enjoyed my movie. They’re not the judges, but they may have some influence.


I saw Henk and Emile both again today, and they still like my movie best. I don’t know who the judges are, but that bodes really well. They said that they uploaded a few choice phone videos to play on the festival monitors around the fest, and mine is one of them. That means one of my films is playing Rotterdam! Yee-haw!

We find out Monday night who wins. I'll post a link when you can see my movies.

Holy crap, I forgot to tell you about the best part: the prizes. The winner gets one of the phones (the special James Bond edition) and 500 Euros. Wish me luck!


Emile said...

Funny, I found my name :)
with a great description of me :P

Anonymous said...

hey, nice blog!