Inaugural Instant Film Festival begins this weekend

Kate Robinette

Given a camera, a set of guidelines and a weekend, interested Whitman College students will come together to create short films for Whitman’s inaugural 48-Hour Instant Film Festival.

Beginning on Friday, April 8 at 5 p.m., the festival will give groups 48 hours to complete a seven-minute film. The films will be screened on the evening of the Undergraduate Conference and a panel of judges, along with the audience, will vote on the winner.

Festival creators have come up with a character that all groups must use, as well as one spoken line and one prop that all must include. Each group will also be assigned a film genre. Beyond that there are no limits.

“I think it’s cool because as many people can be involved in it as [they] want,” said the festival’s creator, senior Heather Ferguson.

Ferguson was inspired to bring the festival to Whitman when she was abroad last year in New Zealand and had a roommate participate in the nation’s prodigious 48Hours Instant Film Festival.

“I made it my goal to make something like that happen at Whitman this year. [The student body] seems like the proper crowd,” said Ferguson.

The initial organization of the festival has not been as difficult as might be expected.

“We just needed to find out where to get cameras from, create a set of rules that everybody has to abide by,” Ferguson said.

Sophomore Hari Raghavan points out similarly that the hardest tasks were merely the mechanics and practicalities of organizing the event.

“It’s definitely been a bit of a challenge to coordinate both the appropriate facilities for showing the final films and the equipment needed … not because there’s been any one person that’s objected to the festival idea, but because there’s lots of scheduling to be done,” he said.

But as the Cinema Arts director for WEB, Raghavan says he is always on the lookout for new and exciting ways to make productive use of film and filmmaking.

“I find them each to be incredible mediums for self expression and creative growth. So when another director, the incomparable Heather Ferguson, approached me with the idea of organizing an instant film festival, I jumped at the opportunity,” he said.

Since this is the first year of the festival at Whitman, there will inevitably be unexpected difficulties and issues to deal with, such as formatting issues. To prepare for this, Ferguson and her team are training at the Multimedia Development Lab so they can assist participants who encounter trouble with the technical aspects of filmmaking.

There are no rules as to who can participate, which students and festival creators find to be invigorating but which also necessitates a certain degree of uncertainty in the process. There is no way of knowing how the screening on April 12 will pan out.

Even Ferguson is herself not academically associated with film.

“I’m a biology major, but I just thought it was a cool idea,” she said. “I liked being in the room … when they were writing the script and there [are] just so many different aspects that go into it. Somebody makes music, there are people that write scripts, people that act, just so many different venues,” she said.

Interested students should keep in mind that sign-up forms are available outside the WEB Office in Reid Campus Center and must be turned in by Friday, April 8 at 9 a.m. For more information, contact Heather Ferguson ([email protected]), Hari Raghavan ([email protected]) or Alexandra Schaffer ([email protected]).