As digital production and editing have changed the way that movies are made, it has become easier for people without big, professional budgets to produce work, and for projects to be turned around on very quick timetables. One result of these changes has been the emergence of 24- and 48-hour film challenges, in which teams are given a set period to write, shoot, edit and deliver short films based on assigned themes and elements. I’ve worked on several such projects myself, and can attest that the pressure can make for an exciting experience, produce unique material, and lend a real sense of camaraderie among teammates and fellow competitors.
Recently, I was asked to serve as a judge for one such competition, a 24-hour horror film challenge hosted by the Media Arts Club at my alma mater, California State University Monterey Bay (the student film I made there, in case you’re wondering, was a horror comedy about vampires invading a television studio). Four teams of students each had 24 hours to write, shoot, and edit their movies, which range from about three to seven minutes in length. Short timetables and limited resources do not need to stand in the way of creativity, and the teams produced four very different takes on horror, all emphasizing ideas and atmosphere over plot mechanics or special effects.
I’m stepping out of judging mode here; I’m just going to present the four movies to you, without any commentary. You can appreciate how much these students pulled off in such a short time, without the budgets or resources of a studio behind them, or you can just sit back and enjoy the spooky fun. Either way, let’s celebrate that there are young people out there looking to apply their passion and their education to the genre we love!
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