St Andrews’ 60 Hour Film Blitz was a night of numbers. 600 years, 60 hours, 50 teams and one challenge; to make the best short film possible in two and a half days. Could it be done?
The town rose to the challenge. All of the films were aired in The Byre theatre; arguably the swankiest location in St Andrews. The audience was asked to enter a glass panelled wooden balcony area, where camera flashes were going off and people mingled in tweeds. A live jazz band tinkled from the ground floor. Within a minute of entering I had even made a new friend. This was an event which was unmistakably ‘St Andrews’.
Although the films had been entirely written, shot and edited in two days they were of a wide range and excellent quality. We saw a Japanese horror film, the adventures of a ball, a documentary about Love, a summery cooking program and a lesbian take on Will and Kate’s romance (Jill and Kate) among others. All the films were categorised according to the relative experience of the film makers. What struck me was how many first-timers the festival attracted; it just goes to show how easy amateur film making can be.
For the Blitz’s small entrance fee anyone could have their film judged by a prestigious panel; featuring Chris Fujiwara, Director of the Edinburgh International Film Festival, Alice Black chair of film at Dundee Contemporary Arts College, Marie Olsen from the award winning Autonomi and the familiar face of Robert Borgoyne, university chair of film studies. In the end, this panel had the unenviable task of choosing a winner in each category.
The winner of the Home-Movie category was the brilliant film The Director. Over one continuous shot of South Street, a director’s voiceover transformed everyday people into extras in a film. Random pedestrians were hilariously accused of entering shot too early, looking at the camera and ‘being a diva’. Although the film was very simple in its execution, the voiceover proved so funny that even when the film aired without an image due to technical problems, it earned laughs.
The winners of the Indie category were both documentaries. Lords of Poshtown was a side-splitting parody of Lords of Dogtown, which swapped skaters for Rahs and Venice beach for St Andrews. The film got its ’70s look spot on and had a surreal feeling, perhaps because of the skateboarding in tweeds. The other winner in the category was Tessa, a summery interview between Alex Budman and her friend Tessa. Tessa taught us many things; how to dance, how to cook rice and beans and how people speak in Trinidad and Tobago.
The winner of the Blockbuster category was Sunder, a film so impressive that it was difficult to believe that it had not been shot professionally. The film describes the breakdown of a relationship between two gay twenty-somethings and was almost entirely silent. The only sound was haunting piano music and a monologue based on an answer phone message. West Sands on a gloomy day provided the perfect setting for the drama. It really can’t be overemphasised, how good Sunder’s acting, editing, shooting and sound production was. It was so good that I couldn’t be sure it weren’t real life. Sunder also won the Audience Choice award.
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed my evening at the 60 Hour Film Blitz. Filmmaking can often seem like a daunting process; the equipment difficult to get hold of, editing software scarce and good actors hard to find. But what this festival showed was that students and amateurs can produce really enjoyable cinema in less than two and a half days. Budding student filmmakers should be inspired (I certainly was) and hopefully the 60 Hour Film Blitz will continue to grow and grow.
Click here to see this year’s winners and details of the competition.
Image credit – 60 Hour Film Blitz