High School Filmmakers To Be Creatively Challenged at Second Annual 48-Hour Film Challenge

Southwestern’s communication department will host 120 students from 16 different schools for this year’s 48-Hour Film Challenge on March 22-25. Started last year as a fresh perspective on Southwestern’s bi-annual Brain Games, the 48-Hour Film Challenge proved so popular, it has taken on a life of its own and become an annual event.

Participating schools have been divided into groups, with each group containing no more than six students. Each team must compete against the others to create a two- to four-minute short film that shares the theme “Love thy Neighbor” in the genre they’ve been assigned. Assigned genres are given to each team through a random drawing.

The schools that are expected to compete this year and their chosen movie genres are:

  • Jefferson Christian Academy- Adventure
  • Dallas Christian Academy- Spoof
  • Richmond Academy (1)- Fish out of Water
  • Richmond Academy (2)- Action
  • Columbia Academy- Sci-Fi
  • Alvarado High School (1)- The Romantic Comedy
  • Alvarado High School (2)- The Period Drama
  • Calexico Mission Academy- Political Intrigue
  • Chisholm Trail Academy- The Buddy Comedy
  • Hinsdale Adventist Academy- The Chase
  • Burton Adventist Academy (1)- The Western
  • Burton Adventist Academy (2)- Mockumentary
  • North Dallas Adventist Academy (1) –The Road Movie
  • North Dallas Adventist Academy (2)- Film Noir
  • South Texas Christian Academy (1)- Romance
  • South Texas Christian Academy (2)- Fan Film
  • Ozark Adventist Academy- Epic

This event is designed to challenge student’s creativity by challenging them to create a silent, two- to four-minute short film in 48 hours on their smartphones. During these two days, the students must shoot, edit and deliver their film themselves.

“The goal is to present these students with the opportunity to challenge themselves physically and creatively within the realm of storytelling for film and TV,” says Kyle Portbury, professor of communication and an award-winning scriptwriter and director.

Because the film can’t have dialogue, students must come up with creative ways to tell their story through images rather than relying on words. As an added challenge, each team must also find a way to incorporate a cactus (inanimate or real) into their story’s plot.

“Each team has a sponsor who is able to provide limited support,” Portbury says. “They are also assigned our own communication majors to help with a range of technical and practical requirements. Creativity however, is all on them.”

On Saturday night, March 25, a premiere will be hosted for the students and sponsors when the films will be judged. Local Dallas producer, Chad Gunderson and another judge yet to be named will serve as judges for the night. The judges have a criterion they will use as a guide to assess each film.

“Our judges have many years of professional, industry experience,” Portbury says. “For the most part, they are looking for the same things they do at any festival: a good story, well told.”

At the end of the film, awards will be given to the schools that have shown the best use of storytelling. The awards to be given out include:

  • Best film
  • Best actor
  • Best actress
  • Best directing
  • Best editing
  • Best screenplay
  • Best cinematography
  • Best production design
  • Best use of cactus
  • People’s choice award
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