Ohio University students in the Media Arts and Studies program will compete this weekend in the 16th Annual 48-Hour Shooting Competition.
Designated teams of students will have from 6 p.m. Friday evening until 6 p.m. Sunday to write, direct, shoot and perfect a short film according to specific guidelines assigned to each team Friday evening, explained Andie Walla, adviser course this year for the event.
The challenge is “a very intense way” for students to hone their skills, said Walla, who is also a lecturer in video production. “It’s getting a little silly… There’s got to be a lot going on,” she said. “They need to find actors; they have to write a script; they have to find a place… Most of these children do not sleep (much) during the 48 hours; they work in shifts.
Having participated “in the early years” of the Shootout as a student and having served as a judge for the competition for the past five to six years, Walla said she had “been involved from every angle.” Now she’s taking the wheel from former school counselor Fredrick Lewis.
“It was an honor to succeed Fred Lewis, who kind of started Shootout and led it for 15 years,” Walla said. “Now I can take up the torch.”
Final team entries for the competition were submitted on Monday, and 18 teams will compete this year, including an animation team and a group of students from the Los Angeles-based Media Arts & Studies department’s OHIO-in-LA program. . An animation team pulled off a rare stunt by winning last year’s Shootout.
“We’ve never had a team from Los Angeles participate like this,” Walla said. “We have changed some of the rules to allow them to access some of our meetings via Skype,” and the group will send their final submission electronically.
The teams will meet in a room at the Baker Center on Friday night and have their cell phones taken “so no one can communicate”, then each group will randomly select a prop, genre and line of dialogue. “Those three things need to be incorporated somehow” into movies, Walla said.
Competing for the third time this year is Annabelle Fisher, a junior screenwriting and production student. “I love how challenging it is creatively,” Fisher said. “It kind of pushes me out of the bounds of what I normally write.”
Requirements are randomly assigned, Walla said, and the process is riddled with creativity. One year, Easter eggs stuffed with genres and quotes were used to select assignments. “We’re trying to find a way to make Scrabble letters, so you pick a letter and it matches a list and that’s what you get,” Walla said. “This year…all lines of dialogue are from superhero movies.”
Ideally, to get the most points, team members will try to fit their assigned prop into their plot and genre, Walla said. In the past, teams have been allowed to trade requirements, but not this year. “What you get is what you get,” Walla said, explaining that the new rule will hopefully eliminate arguments between student producers.
For Fisher, the best part of competition is the camaraderie. “Not only do you have the challenge of creating something in 48 hours, but you also have to learn and adapt to how other people around you work,” Fisher said. “At the end, just sitting together in the auditorium and watching what you did on the screen is a really cool feeling.”
TEAMS WILL START THEIR projects at the same time and have exactly 48 hours to complete everything. Members are recruited to their teams before entering competition, usually for roles such as pole vaulters and managers. “But they can also recruit actors…and they’re allowed to secure a location,” Walla said.
Students have often struggled to find viable actors for their projects, Walla noted, and acting and sound are common issues. Arts and media studies students often have to perform their own work, she said.
“It’s not what they really want to do or what they should be doing,” the new school counselor said with a laugh. Walla said she hopes to forge future collaborations with theater students and community talent. “We’re trying to get more networking with people outside of the team they’re working with,” because a lot of media and filming is about networking, she said.
“Shootout has evolved so much over the years,” Walla said. “Moving forward, the only thing we can do is strive to improve it.”
MOST STUDENTS USUALLY START shooting Saturday, according to Fisher.
Community members will see (and have seen in the past) ongoing projects throughout the city and surrounding areas, Walla added. “It’s kind of this whole thing of trying to network…just getting outside and going, ‘Hey, can we use this place?'” she said.
Final submissions will be screened at 6 p.m. Sunday at the Templeton-Blackburn Alumni Memorial Auditorium.
The screening will be free and open to the public, and winners will walk away with “the glory of winning Shootout,” as well as a resume boost, Walla said. “The 48-hour shootings happen all over the country,” she noted, “and to say you’ve been in one and you know what it’s like” is hands-on experience for future employment.
Beyond that, the champions will earn “a coveted title,” among other students, Walla said.
The time constraint adds a freshness factor to the final product, Fisher said. “I really like that you have 48 hours … (and) then come out with a tangible product that you can show your families or put on your reel,” she said. “There are things that go wrong every year, but they’re always things that I end up learning from, and I usually end up being pretty proud of the product at the end.”
Sometimes projects go better than expected, Walla said. “It’s really great to see it on the big screen when it’s all said and done,” Walla said, adding that for OU students interested in the contest, the screening is “a good way to see what it’s about.” is about without really getting involved.”
Fisher said she enjoys participating in the event every year. “I’m making a lot of really good memories,” she said. “I’m glad it’s something the OU offers and supports.”