After handing over $10 and collecting his free t-shirt at the sign-up for the BendFilm 72 Hour Shoot Out, my boyfriend Guy wanted to go swimming. At the panel discussion the week before, we'd been warned that making a short film over one intense weekend warranted a case of Red Bull and a gang of helpers. Other filmmakers hustled away like they hadn't a minute to spare.
But Guy had made well over 200 short movies before, and even some feature-lengths, in well under 72 hours (see youtube.com/guyjjackson). That was his method; putting his energy into writing rather than elaborate production, rarely using more than one actor and never a crew, wielding the camera like that cartoon Tasmanian Devil, and being happily surprised when he created entirely different movies at the editing stage than were originally conceived.
Exhausted by an hour of swimming and a debate about health care reform in the sauna, with me defending England against strangers for the umpteenth time, I discovered I was to be the non-speaking star of the movie. BendFilm had asked the competition sponsor, South Valley Bank, somehow be featured. So it would definitely be about me and the bank...
But now Guy suggested lunch at the Pilot Butte Drive-In. He figured he'd write the movie while consuming their signature 18-ounce burger. The script and the burger, Guy had calculated, would take him equal time to complete. That turned out to be two hours, during which I occupied myself with a basket of chili-cheese fries, seven Cokes, and three celebrity magazines.
With Guy's notebook filled and his picture added to the Wall of Fame, we walked home with Guy groaning over every step. "It's going to be a surprisingly emotional sorta poem movie thing about South Valley Bank," he said between gasps, then added: "You'll see." We spied another couple filming a cat stretching on a garden path. Guy hadn't taken one shot. At home, though, he did take a three-hour nap.
Post-dog show, Saturday was spent searching the scorching business park around the Old Mill for Southwest Bank. After several phone calls and Googles, we found Southwest Bank trades only in Texas. "I do have a movie I want to make in Bend called 'The Southwest,' I must've gotten confused," explained Guy as I chugged a Double Gulp Slurpee.
It was Sunday before I got filmed in front of both branches of South Valley Bank. In the window of the Flip camera the shots of me and South Valley Bank were beautiful, sunset-lit portraits. Guy aimed to lend his voice, trained through years of on-stage storytelling, for narration. My curiosity was stronger than usual; banks aren't often the subjects of "sorta poem movie things."
But back home, the pirated copy of an editing program that had thrown tantrums before took to crashing far more than normal, unable to handle the HD-sized files of the Flip camera. After an all-nighter, at 8 a.m. Monday morning, Guy had to call in his forfeit. I'm left to imagine all those little banks in the sunset, stubbornly refusing to be made into a movie.
Those shorts that did make it to the BendFilm office Monday morning were screened in a mini-festival at McMenamins Old St Francis School theatre. The winner of the student set of films was Micah Mahaffey's "Suggestions" - which energetically dabbled in genres ranging from action to romance with a wry sense of humor. The adult competition saw James Chick and Hans Skjersaa's "Lucky Star" come out tops. Their ambitious, sophistically shot woman-in-peril story also took the audience choice award. Also shown were "Miracle's Reverie" from Jenny Brown, a melodrama based around two playground ponies, and Elliott Sawyer's "Job Survey" - an unexpected romance, very smartly scripted.
Submissions are rolling into BendFilm's office this week as Friday's deadline for entries approaches and the annual film festival shores up its plans for 2009 edition of the event, which looks to have much of the similar feel, but with some changes and additions.
BendFilm, as it has for the past few years, will be screening films at the Tower Theatre, McMenamins and Regal Old Mill. One of the most notable additions to the four-day festival is the screening of films out at the Sisters Movie House, which has brought the Sisters community into the BendFilm fold. Mintz says there is a possibility of adding another screening location, but that the details hadn't been worked out yet.
One of the biggest problems for BendFilm in the past two years has been the no-profit organization's ability to raise the funds needed to produce the festival and the parties, prizes and other fanfare that surrounds the event. While acknowledging that this is still a time-consuming aspect of the organizing process of BendFilm, Mintz says that the festival has managed to survive in the down economy.
"It's a tough year, but most our committed sponsors have remained committed. We've also got so many new in-kind sponsors," she says, adding that they are planning a membership drive for next month.
BendFilm will still feature the parties that its become known for, this year are adding some non-ticketed events at bars and restaurants that will be open to the public. Also, the awards ceremony, which has in the past been a sit-down dinner, will be a more "Academy Awards" type event.
As for the actual film-watching portion of the festival, Mintz says it will look "strikingly familiar" to last year, with one main change being the addition of an animation category. Mintz says the quality of the submissions is as strong as she's seen since being involved with the festival.If you need to mark your calendar, BendFilm is slated for October 8-11. Hit up www.bendfilm.org for details.