The detective lets out a primal yell as he bursts into the small, dark room and pumps two crack dealers full of lead. He then stands, breathing heavily, over their corpses. “Cut!” yells Dana Quigley ‘11. The crack dealers spring instantly back to life, and rush over to cameraman Benjamin Salzman ‘13 to watch the playback. As they chuckle at their on-screen antics, Quigley and Salzman discuss the best way to eliminate background noise at the beginning of the shot. Quigley and his friends are shooting Dozer and Sasquatch, a five-minute long film that will be screened in 12 hours at the 7th annual 24-Hour Film Festival.
As the name implies, teams of students are given a 24-hour period to make short films that will be premiered at the end of the day. Teams are assigned a genre to work in and are instructed to include a few specific elements into their films, like a line of dialogue or a cinematic technique, but the rest is up to them. “We started brainstorming right away,” Quigley said. “We wrote some of the script on the way to Wal-Mart at 1 a.m.” The filming itself is a largely collaborative process, with each member of the team contributing to the best of their ability.
Shooting the film, however, is only half of the challenge. Quigley freely acknowledges that the editing process is the most difficult portion of the festival, but is quick to point out that it is a shared burden. “My teammates help the most during [editing] by just keeping me in good humor and giving me feedback on the work as I produce it.” According to Matt Baxter ’11, everything gets more frantic as the deadline approaches. “There’s definitely a last minute crunch when everyone’s editing,” he says. “Everyone is yelling at the computer to ‘go faster!’”
Like Quigley, Lauren Zoltick ‘11 is a Film Festival veteran. She has entered a film in the competition for the past four years, and has organized the event for the past two. Zoltick’s film Federal Undercover Campus Safety Unit premiered alongside the festival’s other entries. She has mixed feelings on the time constraint. “I think the advantage of having to make a film in 24 hours is the energy level it creates,” she said. “But because of the tight schedule, there’s always some interesting speed bumps that teams have to overcome…whether it be an actor getting sick or a computer problem.”
At midnight, the films premiered to a standing-room-only crowd in the Tolles Pavilion. A cross-section of the campus community was present—including a few people who were still in costume. At the end of the screening, the audience voted to determine the winners. Many of the films had a distinctly Hamilton flavor to them: The Duel was a modern look at Alexander Hamilton’s fateful encounter with Aaron Burr, while Revisiting Kirkland presented a tongue-in-cheek look at the short-lived Kirkland College.
After the votes were calculated, the winners were revealed. Revisiting Kirkland took third place, while Take 2 (a film that spoofed memorable cinematic moments) placed second. Zoltick’s film took first place, beating out Dozer and Sasquatch along with seven or eight other entries.
Zoltick was incredibly pleased with the way the festival turned out. “I think the quality of the films has increased dramatically [this year],” she said. Although she emphasizes the fact that the festival is primarily concerned with “having fun,” Zoltick believes that “it has become a place for talented filmmakers at Hamilton to showcase their abilities.”