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Down to the Wire: A 24-Hour Film Race

By Karen Long

How do we all work together? How awkward will it be when the producer has to make last minute decisions? What genres are my actors and actresses best suited for? What locations can I get advance permits for?

These are the questions racing through Joel Isaacs’ mind right now, 10 days before he and his team set their toe to the starting line of Down to the Wire: A 24-Hour Film Race. At 7:00pm on August 10 the starting gun will sound for independent filmmakers to write, shoot, produce and edit a 6-minute film short in 24 hours, the first cinematic sprint of its kind in Wichita.

The contest was the brainchild of Kylie Brown of Creative Rush: in 2004 she was a film-curious communications intern in Grand Rapids, MI when she first strapped on her film-sprinting shoes. “I was young and it was nuts, no sleep, and we had no idea what we were getting ourselves into. I had a blast and was hooked,” she says. It became an annual tradition, as well as the 48 Hour Film Projects in Chicago and Detroit.

When Brown arrived back in her native Wichita, “all I could think was that, ‘I am so thankful I was able to get the opportunity I did, when I did, so why shouldn't I help inspire and provide a similar opportunity for someone else. Why not?’”

“I’d like my hobby to become more than a hobby.”
— Joel Isaacs, independent filmmaker

The undercranked auteurs will incorporate four required elements into their finished works: a location, line, prop and theme.

“That’s the scary part and that’s the fun part, is working within the stipulations,” Isaacs says. Even though he and his partner, Brian Hickey, won’t actually start writing their script ahead of time, “You can’t turn your brain off. I know who my actors and actresses are, what are their strengths are, such as drama, comedy, horror.”

Another thing that surprised Isaacs is that the score must be original and created within 24 hours. “Luckily I’ve got a group of artists, and some are musicians.”

Other members of his team include a painter, a chef/musician and a graphic designer/editor.

“We cannot obsess this way — we just have to do something.” — Wade Hampton, independent filmmaker

Another Down to the Wire participant, Wade Hampton, has also assembled his dream team. ”I have my little crew and actors. We call ourselves ART BRUT FILM. It's about eight people. We get along great and I know we will complete something very nice.”

ART BRUT FILM usually takes a matter of weeks to produce a film short, so what makes Hampton think they can do it in a day? “We don't have a choice, so we will come up with something finished. I just like the idea of being pushed to start and finish something within 24 hours…I'm excited to see what all the teams come up with.”

Everyone will have a chance to do just that, when the top 10 films are screened for the public on August 12 at the Orpheum Theatre. The first place prize package includes a gala screening at the 10th annual Tallgrass Film Festival, a filmmaking grant from Vimeo, VIP TallPasses for all team members, a complimentary one-night stay in a loft suite at the Hotel at Waterwalk and more.

“If you come alone or with a group, we can get you on a team that will require your specialty. And if you are just a movie buff who wants to try something completely new, that's okay too.” — Nick Pope, Tallgrass Film Association

All of the fast and furious filmmaking crews will have the luxury of working in a community that MovieMaker magazine proclaimed the 10th best city for independent filmmakers.

“I think Wichita and the surrounding areas have some hidden treasures that filmmakers from out-of-town aren't familiar with,” says Nick Pope, co-director of programming for the Tallgrass Film Association. Every year our festival brings in guests from cities like LA and NYC and they are constantly impressed by places like Cowtown and the Flint Hills.

“Wichita has a lot more character and the people have a greater passion for the arts than we are often given credit for.”

 
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