Colgate’s Inaugural 48-Hour Film Challenge Creates Outlet for Budding Filmmakers

Six excited film teams left the Case-Geyer Library with information packets in hand on Friday, February 22, marking the beginning of the 48-Hour Film Challenge. The challenge was this: to create a five-minute film from scratch in under 48 hours. The teams, which were composed of anywhere from two to six members, brainstormed ideas, scripted their videos, shot them and edited them throughout the weekend. Colgate provided equipment as well as training in various video-editing programs, meaning that no prior experience was necessary to participate in the contest. Besides being a great opportunity to create something from nothing, there was an incentive to do well: the winning team would receive a prize as recognition for their hard work in the form of either a $300 camera or a $300 gift card to the Colgate Bookstore.

After the 48 hours had elapsed, the films were debuted on Sunday, February 24 at the Hamilton Movie Theater to a crowd of Colgate students and faculty. Although it was a complete coincidence that the film screening fell on the same night as the Academy Awards, it seemed fitting that these aspiring filmmakers be honored alongside the big-time directors and screenwriters of Hollywood.

The style of the films ranged from documentary to comedy to drama. One film took the form of a “Minorities Report” and examined the responses of several students who were considered minorities in race, religion or sexual orientation. The filmmakers asked probing questions like why the students chose Colgate and inquired as to whether or not the Colgate administration could improve its treatment and awareness of minorities on campus.

Another film, titled “Dispirit,” took the route of a serious dramatic monologue about the drug-like quality of happiness, depression and the proverbial “monsters” inside all of us. However, this austere and intense video was in sharp contrast to the humorous and whimsical one that preceded it, a film titled “The Bet” about a wager between two guys to see which one could score the girl and the antics of their pajama-wearing friend.

“Settlers” was by far the strangest and perhaps most thought-provoking of all the films. It chronicled a philosophical conversation between two friends regarding life and their places in the universe. The friends smoked cigarettes and walked in the snow while wondering how to define themselves in relation to the world around them.

Unfortunately, the film “In Bloom” was not submitted by the deadline and could not be considered for the prizes, but was still screened with the other entries. It was arguably the best edited of all the films, consisting of mostly back and white shots that depicted a detective attempting to solve a murder and get a known mobster thrown in jail.

The winning team was chosen by a panel of judges and their short, “Right Hand Romance,” was given the coveted honor of Best Feature. The film followed the main character’s attempts to win his love’s affection while being plagued by alien hand syndrome, a disease that quite literally gave his hand a mind of its own. Despite his hand making a pass at another guy and throwing tea in the face of the character’s crush, love conquered all in the end.

“It was awesome,” senior Melissa Foerster said when asked about what it was like to participate in the challenge. “It was really fun doing something different at Colgate that you don’t usually get the chance to do.”

The idea for the 48-Hour Film Challenge originated in the ITS department and this was the first time it took place in Colgate’s history. It was considered a complete success and its administrators are already looking for ways to improve the experience for next year. It appears that the challenge will become an annual occurrence and we may look forward to seeing more creative films from Colgate students in the future.