Faster Than the Speed of Film

by J. Tobias Beard

At the 2006 Virginia Film Festival, I was embedded with a team competing in the Adrenaline Film Festival, a 72 hour, nonstop filmmaking competition. Here’s what it was like.

Culbreth Theatre, UVA Grounds. Sunday October 30, 2005. 4pm.

8,640 hours, 30 minutes to go.

Shea Sizemore, Paul Metzger, and Kim Bonner are taking in the applause. The filmmaking team has just won the Mentor Award for the 2005 Adrenaline Film Project for their short movie, Small Loss. The prize, given by the project’s directors, rewards the team that overcomes the largest odds and still makes a great film. Every team in this movie-making contest faces at least one major challenge: to complete a movie, start to finish, in only 72 hours. Some teams confront other issues. Shea’s team had arrived in Charlottesville from Radford knowing nothing about the area. They stayed at a rundown hotel far from everything. Fifty-four hours into the contest, Paul, scouting actors to play drunkards, had found two perfect and actually drunk guys. Coaxing them to be in the movie, he had joined them for a beer on no sleep and an empty stomach, with predictable results: Though the drunks were struggling to chase him (as the scene called for), it was Paul who ended up puking.

“We didn’t know what to even expect,” Shea says, exactly one year later.
But that was then. Going into the third annual AFP, which took place this year from October 26 to October 29 in tandem with the Virginia Film Festival, Shea & co. knew exactly what to do—and how to do it.

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