In recent years, the possibility of recording anything, anytime, cheaply, and conveniently has led to the capturing of countless everyday moments. Chris Pennington—high school teacher by day, artist and rogue filmmaker by night—amassed a sizable collection of ten-second snippets using the video feature on a new digital camera and began wondering if others had similar gems to share. “We built a crappy little Web site,” Pennington wrote in an e-mail, “and signed up for a Ten-Second Film Fest Gmail account, and then begged and pleaded with the masses to send their little movies to us!” That was in 2004. 150 films were submitted, and 100 were shown that year. Thus was born the tradition of the Ten-Second Film Festival, the fourth annual iteration of which will take place this July 4 at the Soap Factory.
Chester the Quaker by Curt Kline, winner of the 2007 Most Touching Award
The Ten-Second Film Festival will take place immediately after the St. Anthony Main fireworks at the Soap Factory, 518 2nd St. S.E., Minneapolis. Admission to the festival is free; food and drink will be available for sale. For more information about the Ten-Second Film Festival—and to submit by the June 23 deadline—see tensecondfilmfest.org. For more information about the Soap Factory, see soapfactory.org.
I Ain’t Sammy Hagar by David Moe, winner of the 2007 What the Hell Am I Looking At? Award
Whether films come from camcorders, Webcams, phonecams, or any other small and convenient recording device, the Ten-Second Film Festival allows participants to share these small, often funny, often poignant, and typically bizarre tidbits of life with a broader audience. According to Katherine Rochester, program manager at the Soap Factor, “it’s a rich thing to explore what you can do in ten seconds.” In addition to humorous impromptu moments similar to those aired on America’s Funniest Home Videos, ten-second filmmakers have also been known to script and choreograph elaborate little masterpieces.
Working Relationships by the VanOmmeren Bros., winner of the 2007 Spielberg Award
The festival, which starts right after the downtown fireworks display, features a public screening of the top 100 films. The atmosphere is light-hearted, reflecting the beer-drinking, brat-roasting tradition of America’s Independence Day. “[At the Soap Factory] we have some prime real estate to do something with!” Pennington wrote in an e-mail. “We try to suck the crowd in using cheap beer and tiki torches.”
Panda Sock Hop by Derrick Silvestri, winner of the 2007 Funny Ha Ha Award
“You have hordes of people there anyway,” observes Rochester. “They just have to turn around and attend the festival. It’s as much a party and an excuse to have a good time as it is an art festival. It’s festive, like a neighborhood barbeque.” The festival’s organizers see the festival as consistent with the non-profit Soap Factory’s mission to present and promote the emergence of contemporary practice across the visual arts. The Ten-Second Film Festival represents a way to make art fun and draw in crowds that might not otherwise visit an art gallery. All proceeds from sale of beer and food support the gallery.
Bubble Gum Man by Gail Schiffman, winner of the 2007 Best Documentary Award
The panel conducting the initial screening of the films takes an open-ended approach, allowing categories to emerge as they view and rate the films. Last year’s categories included, among others, “Moment of Zen,” “Most Touching,” Most Disturbing,” and “Best Documentary.” The panel will establish ten categories, with ten films in each category. On the night of the festival, three local celebrities will judge the 100 films and choose the best in each category. Winners will receive gift certificates and trophies.
Tired of Performing on the Train by Kate McDonnell, winner of the 2007 Very Strange Award
Pennington and Rochester hope to get more submissions by the deadline of Monday, June 23. They invite everyone—including children—to submit interesting, entertaining, and thought-provoking films.
Boogie by Siniz Lennes, winner of the 2007 Best Sound Award
Mark Weaver grew up in Fairborn, Ohio and then embarked on a life journey that has taken him across the U.S. and around the world. He has spent the last ten years teaching linguistics and English as a second language at colleges and universities in Texas, Minnesota, and California. Before that, he worked with a linguistics organization in Ethiopia. He is currently a freelance writer living in Minneapolis.
Jesus is Watching by Shawn Boyke, winner of the 2007 Most Disturbing Award