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Screening showcases films completed during 50 Hour Slam

May 2, 2019

While you were out and about during the weekend of March 22-24, you might have seen small groups dashing around town, with one group member wielding a camera.

For the past nine years, 50 Hour Slam has invited teams of filmmakers – both new and experienced – to write, shoot and edit a short film, three to six minutes long, in just 50 hours.

A little over a month later, the top 15 films will be screened at the Bing Crosby Theater on Saturday.

A 16th film, created by the team who posted the best tweet during the 50 Hour Slam weekend, will also be screened.

Every year, slam organizers select a theme and create a list of specific criteria teams must include in their film. This year’s theme was “Human Connection.”

“Every year, we try to do something where we are bringing together, or essentially connecting, artists from multiple disciplines with people that are interested in filmmaking whether they be professional or be they amateur,” organizer Tom Dineen said. “You can’t build a community without human connection.”

This year, in keeping with the theme, every film had to feature a moment where two people touch hands.

Each team was given a card that corresponded to one of five businesses along Monroe Street that had to be visually featured in the film: Diamonds in the Ruff, Kingsley & Scout, Vessel Coffee Roasters, 1889 Salvage Co. and Hot Rods Auto & Boat Detailing.

Every year, slam organizers also call upon artists and ask them to create something that teams can use as inspiration.

This year, ceramic artists Mark Moore, Gina Freuen and Chris Kelsey, who work and show at Trackside Studio Ceramic Art Gallery, each created a piece inspired by the idea of human connection.

“The artists always come back to us and tell us how some of the projects they’ve seen are completely left-field and they never would have thought of their art being interpreted in such a way,” Dineen said. “But it has helped them to examine their work and the reaction to their work and really have a new approach they can look at.”

A love-it-or-hate-it aspect of the festival, the Easter egg, was back this year too.

Each Easter egg contains either a challenge teams must complete as part of their film or an automatic deduction of one point from the team’s score.

One of this year’s Easter eggs, for example, featured the challenge “Your film must have a live emu.”

Spoiler alert: A team accomplished the task.

“I’m wondering if we put on there ‘You need to be shown going to the moon,’ they’re going to figure out how to get to the moon within a weekend,” organizer Brandon Smith said. “Never put anything past these guys.”

Although only 16 films will be screened at the Bing, the more than 40 that were turned in are in the running for the judge’s choice and audience choice awards along with the Spirit Award, viral vote award and the awards for best actress and actor, best editorial and best cinematography.

All of the films will also be shown on PBS, likely sometime this summer.

Over its nine years, the slam has spurred the creation of nearly 350 short films.

It has also, Dineen and Smith said, been the starting point of numerous friendships, which often turn into creative partnerships.

It’s an outcome that shows Dineen and Smith that organizers are accomplishing their goal of creating connections.

“We’re trying to build this community to start producing more fun content,” Smith said.