Sunday, July 24, 2011

Riverside Saginaw Film Festival offers a 72-hour filmmaking challenge

by Janet I. Martineau

If you own a video camera, the 2011 Riverside Saginaw Film Festival wants you.
This coming fall, the festival is hosting its first "Saginaw 72" filmmaking contest, with filmmakers of all ages and skills competing to see who can make the best short film in 72 hours.

Filmmaking teams will script, shoot, edit and submit their films, all within a three-day time frame  of Sept. 30-Oct. 2. Each entry will be given a specific theme, genre, and a few plot details and lines of dialogue just before the start time to insure all entires are made on the fly.

The 72-hour contest is the brainchild of Jerry Seward, a local filmmaker and Riverside board member. Seward sees "Saginaw 72" as an opportunity to showcase local talent and involve community members in the  festival and the local film scene.

He stresses that the contest will be judged more on creativity than production values. After all, even classics like Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead and Kevin Smith’s Clerks were made by people who did a lot with a little.

“If somebody makes a really professional-quality film but the story isn’t great, that may go against them,” says Seward. “But if there’s one that’s made by a kid who didn’t have much money but he was creative in what he did, that may be one of the winners.”

Seward says there is no limit on the size of production teams, so entries can be anything from a self-filmed soliloquy to a cast-of-thousands extravaganza ala Cecil B. DeMille. Also, there are no age limits. High school and college students with a penchant for camerawork are especially encouraged to enter but “it’s pretty open… a five-year-old could submit something.”

The only limits are that entries must be five minutes and submitted on DVD. Contestants should also steer clear of offensive or off-color subject matter.

There is an entry fee of $25 and cash prizes for the top three films. Regardless of whether they win a prize or not, all entries will be screened at a special showing during the run of the festival, Nov. 2-6 at the Temple Theatre in Saginaw. 

For more on the Saginaw 72 film challenge and the Riverside Saginaw Film Festival, in its fifth year, keep an eye on the Web site at, which will be updated with 2011 info as the contest approaches.

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