Straight 8: The Contest That Narrows It Down to Creativity And Rewards Big
we believe in doing stuff. get it out. learn. move on. do more.
Straight 8 statement couldn’t have better summed up what I believe is the most important aspect of what being creative means, and the fastest to forget when you try monetizing it: doing stuff.
After my last month post about talent versus popularity and how today’s contests are often more about getting us to share our contacts for marketing purposes than about discovering new talents and creative ways to tell stories, I was pleased and energized to find out about Straight 8, a contest that goes back to filmmaking roots.
In few words, Straight 8 is a contest where you order a Super 8 cartridge, shoot a movie on whatever subject you’d like to shoot about, mail the unprocessed and unedited cartridge back to Straight 8, send them the audio on a separate tape and, if they like it, find out at a festival premiere at Slamdance, Cannes or many others if what you had in mind works on screen.
If you’re wondering about what can be done in 3 minutes without seeing the footage you’ve shot, here is a movie that I loved and can still not believe has been made following the Straight 8 constraints:
I shouldn’t say that I am almost shaking of excitement as I write this article, but I am. I regret I haven’t heard about it before because the deadline to enter the Slamdance competition ends in 4 days, and it seems unlikely that anyone in the US will get a hold on the cartridge send from the U.K. on time to shoot anything. (I’m not sure if you have to buy the cartridge from Straight 8 or can use yours if you happen to have one. That could be a solution.)
This is a contest that is all about creativity and the reward is the only reward that should matter: having an audience to share your work with. And in Straight 8 case, it can be in very prestigious screening rooms.
To know more about how to order the cartridge, what type of film stock you can shoot on and the deadlines, go on Straight 8 website, it’s succinct and clear.
And because there’s always a success story to share and a useful making-of that comes along, here is the story of Malcolm Finlay, that will either inspire or paralyze you:
we’re proud of the level playing field that is straight 8. the newbies take on the big boys and girls. and it’s not just filmmakers that play. some of the best straight 8’s have been made by an economist, a heart specialist, a florist.
in 2008 malcolm finlay, a cardiologist from london, entered straight 8 for the second time. well the third. the year before he’d entered twice — against our advice. both his films didn’t make it to any of our screenings. we offered feedback as we do to all films we don’t select. just our opinion but straight up and no holds barred. he took that on board and came to all the london screenings, met the successful filmmakers and in 2008 was phorensic about how to make a great straight 8. check out ‘the last trip’ on this site. it played to cannes and to 1 million viewers after the news on channel 4 in the uk — all without malcolm seeing it first. that really makes us smile.
And here is the four minute making-of:
I just realized I picked two films that are awfully similar in their storytelling techniques and absurdity levels. They also showcase a lot of work put into a three minute short minute and how you can go straight to big screen if you’re prepared enough before shooting. That’s how Robert Rodriguez breakthrough and that’s how every now and then a mini-budget feature made for $3 comes out and hits big. A good preparation can save you the extra dollar.
That said I’m sure there are more minimalistic movies that premiered at festivals(we can usually count on the black an white movie paying an hommage to Godard with a fragile white female with big eyes smoking a cigarette while reciting a cheesecake recipe read from right to left, but I haven’t looked for it.)
I hope I’ll have the balls to go past all the reasons my inner voice gives me not to do it and I’ll enter it.
Let me know if you do.[thanks to @slamdance]
The first picture is a shot from between two islands by ian mcalpin.