50 Hour Slam: Showcasing Spokane Filmmakers

By Peyton Scheller Communications Manager, Visit Spokane

The secret criteria: a food dish, a Spokane business and a “Slam Video.” The task: 50 hours to create a three- to six-minute film. The result: an epic film fest showcasing the Spokane region’s creative talent.

Created by organizers from Vexing Media, Purple Crayon Pictures, Community Minded Television, The Magic Lantern Theater, Robert Foote and Saranac Public House, 50 Hour Slam was designed to encourage and develop filmmakers throughout the region. We sat down with one of the co-organizers, Juan Mas, to find out a little bit more about the event:

Juan Mas

Juan Mas

For those not aware of the event, how would you describe it to them?
Juan Mas: It’s a timed film event, where competitors have just 50 hours to complete a three- to six-minute movie. Each year, there’s a secret criteria that involves a theme and a location element. This year, the theme was culinary and the location element incorporated several historic Spokane businesses.
There’s also an educational component to the event. Every entry must include all of the proper paperwork, releases, etc. that would normally go along with the process of shooting a real film. Teams have the opportunity to work with us and learn how to take the correct steps throughout the filmmaking process.

What inspired you to start the 50 Hour Slam?
JM: We wanted to create an event that was a little different and a little more edgy… something with more freedom compared to the other film festivals which were generically more family friendly.

How many people compete?
JM: On average, we have about 32 to 35 teams compete, with about 5 to 10 people on each team. This year we have 37 teams with about 300 total participants.

With so many teams, how does the judging process work?
JM: First, the organizers watch every film to make sure it meets all of the criteria before passing it on to the judges. The judges then review all of the films and narrow it down to their top 15. The organizers choose a favorite film that wasn’t in the judges’ top 15 and that’s included as the sixteenth film. All 16 films were shown at the audience screening on May 2, with the audience choosing the final winner.50 hour slam logo
There’s also a viral vote element. For any film that’s submitted after the due date, or is maybe missing a part of the criteria, it’s included in the viral vote along with the rest of the films.
It’s always fun to see how everything shakes out, as films that are the favorites at the screening may not necessarily be the favorites online.

Why did you decide to include a food dish as this year’s theme?
JM: We wanted to honor food as an art form, especially considering Spokane has such an awesome culinary scene. We narrowed down some of our favorite chefs and asked them to participate.

What element is new about this year’s Slam compared to previous years?
JM: Since this is the Slam’s fifth year, we wanted to include one other part of the criteria that gave credit to the past five years’ Slams. Each of the teams was given a “Slam Video” including clips from entries over the past five years, which the teams were then required to incorporate into some aspect of their film.

What is your favorite part of the process?
JM: Coming up with the criteria is always a blast. For the co-organizers, it gives us a chance to think of fresh, really outside-the-box ideas. We don’t want the teams to get too comfortable. The audience screening is also a lot of fun.

How have you seen the event grow over the past few years, and what do you foresee for its future?
JM: Each year the event continues to grow, with more teams and more creative products. For the future, we plan to grow the event, and hopefully include some more educational workshops. Down the road, we hope this could one day become a multi-city event. MI

For more information, visit www.50hourslam.com.

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