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Filmmaking marathon kit

Teams aim to produce five-minute films in 72 hours

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By Nicole Fitzgerald

What: Filmmaker Showdown

When: Tuesday, April 17 , 9 p.m.

Where: Telus Conference Centre

Tickets: $15

The 72-hour Filmmaker Showdown must-have kit:

One vertical sleeping bag.

One reject editor from Skywalker Ranch.

Twenty-four flats of Jolt cola — no easy find.

Don’t trust local forecast. Dial NASA directly at (202) 358-0000. Sorry no 1-800 number.

And if you are going to wear anything at all, make sure it’s your passion for filmmaking on your sleeve.

After hosting the infamous Filmmaker Showdown three years running and winning the inaugural competition, funnyman Ryan Harris, most lovingly known as Razza, is in the know and can dish out the best advice — but can’t compete.

His film dreams of a Michael Moore meets James Bond with Intrawest as the notorious villain flick is put on hold yet again as he makes ready to host one of the festival’s most popular arts events, the 72-hour Filmmaker Showdown, which shows Tuesday, April 17 at the Telus Conference Centre as part of the Telus World Ski and Snowboard Festival.

“It’s the cannon ball run of film competitions,” he said. “When you are a filmmaker, you don’t always get the chance to showcase your work. What this format does is allow you to get an immediate audience for your work. If you make it to that top eight, you have the opportunity to get accolades, inspiration and/or feedback on your passion, which is filmmaking. Within five days, you’ve made a film that hopefully hits the screen.”

Every year anywhere from 50 to 60 filmmaking teams hit Whistler streets to write, shoot and edit a five-minute short film over 72 hours. The filmmaking marathon ends with eight films screening at the showdown finale where 2,000-plus friends and film fans watch on. A panel of judges crowns a winner on the night.

Past wins have included everything from Ace MacKay-Smith’s Barbie doll girls rock film to Robjn Taylor’s kitchen set built on a ceiling to last year’s win of a film comprised of more than 20,000 digital still images.

There are very few rules for the showdown, only that films be handed in Monday morning, everything takes place within 72 hours and shooting takes place within Whistler boundaries. The showdown leaves ample room for creativity as well as chaos, but that is half the fun of it.

“It’s always interesting,” Razza said, recounting the time when a blizzard sent his crew scrambling for an indoor shooting option. “You never know what you are going to get.”

Off or on the screen.

“I’ve never seen the (showdown films) get better,” he said. “There is always good and bad films, but how the event grows is in its popularity.”

So popular that Razza, as one of the founding members of the Whistler Independent Film Society, hosts a film night where all of the films made in the competition are screened over two nights. A place and date is not set yet although Razza said it will take place before the end of the month.

One filmmaking team or individual will walk away with a lot more than just a five-minute short film. Festival organizers have upped the ante this year by including a cash prize of $2,000 as well as $13,000 worth of other prizes.

The real prize is sitting down to watch these mayhem creations with friends on screen to cheer on and back doors to imaginations opened up for all to see.

The showdown always sells out, so pick up $15 tickets in advance by visiting whistler2007.com. Doors 8 p.m.

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