Budding Filmmakers Focus on 24-Hour Festival

A scene from the 24-hour Film Festival winner
A scene from the 24-hour Film Festival winner "An Uncommon Love."
A Hamilton student trudges through the dark recesses of the night, video camera and tripod in hand. He and his friends are in the early stages of the sixth annual 24-Hour Film Festival, hosted by Hamilton’s Film Production Guild. They race across campus, routinely checking the time so as not to fall behind schedule. Each team of actors, producers, and directors has from midnight on Friday until midnight on Saturday to make a quality, entertaining five-minute film – which means they have little time to spare.

This year had the highest number of participants in the festival. More than 100 students comprising 18 teams signed up and 11 teams completed the competition on time.

The participants met on Friday night to discuss rules and procedures. At this meeting, teams received a lottery number which dictated the order in which they could choose a genre. Teams could not stray from their assigned genre, and they had to shoot and edit all footage within the allotted 24 hours. Rooms in Burke Library were reserved for editing throughout the day, and the trimmed versions had to be completed by 11:59 p.m. Saturday. After a screening of all the films, audience members voted for their favorite. About 250 people attended the film showing.

The winning film this year was a Bollywood-style drama, "An Uncommon Love." Team member Amelia Mattern ’12 said that she envisioned one particular scene before committing to a genre Friday night. “I was struck with the idea of having some sort of dance scene in Commons with trays,” she said. “We had come up with a few loose ideas over the week, but nothing concrete because you really can't tell what genre you will get. So when we got to the meeting we scanned the list of genres and were super excited with the prospect of Bollywood because it seemed to fit my idea really well.”

The plot consists of a sinister villain’s attempts to snatch a woman away from her more benign love interest. Although it seems as if it would not be a complicated production, the group stayed awake for long periods of the night planning the script, selecting songs, and choreographing the final dance scene. They finished filming by 2 p.m. on Saturday, and proceeded to work on editing it for the remainder of the afternoon.

“Devoting an entire day to the competition is so worth it,” Mattern said. “I love my friends and we got to make this sweet movie together. We worked so well together – no arguing, no stress. It’s one of my favorite things at Hamilton.”

Lauren Zoltick ’11 ran the festival this year and was part of the team that came in second place for "Quinney: The Musical," their Hamilton-themed musical. Zoltick was excited to be a part of the contest because she aspires to go into the film industry after college. “The best part of it is you are running around all day trying to film and record and film and record,” she said. “It's just pure adrenaline.”

Many students attempted to showcase their artistic talents through cinema. The lead role in Zoltick’s film, Andrew Quinney ’11, demonstrated his suave singing ability, while Wes Hughes ’11 composed the score to a Film Noir starring Sarah Kane ’12 as a detective searching for the elusive “Burr” on Hamilton’s campus.

Others simply enjoyed having fun. Jake Zappala ’12, who played the villain in the Bollywood film, said that he participates for the love of it. “The Festival is easily one of my favorite events of the year, giving us all a good reason to get together with our friends for a full day and just go where the ideas take us,” he said. “And it is surely the only day of the year where I have the chance to be punched in the face and then be told that we have to try it again.”

Student author Allison Eck '12 is a graduate of Clarence Central High School

This story appeared in the November issue of eNews.
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