Ten second cinemaby Chris Roberts, Minnesota Public Radio
Think about the time it takes to say 'This is All Things Considered on Minnesota Public Radio News,' and give you a brief forecast. It's roughly how long it takes to see three, possibly four movies in an unusual film festival in Minneapolis tonight. Organizers of the "Ten Second Film Festival" contend virtually everyone within reach of a digital camera or cell phone can become a filmmaker, and should, especially if they keep it short. Really short.
Minneapolis, Minn. — In the 10 second micro-mini flick "Tunaughty to Handle," a man grimacing in passion cups the face of the object of his desire, who's hidden behind a door.
"God, I missed you!"
He says as the camera pulls back to reveal his love interest, a pillow bearing an uncanny resemblance to a tuna fish. They lock lips and then, suddenly, with a moan, he applies the brakes.
"Oh no. You're right. We should wait," he says.
The time it took for "Tunaughty to Handle" to heat up the screen is just about how long it took for Chris Pennington and Dave Temby to come up with the idea of a ten second film festival.
It seems Pennington, a high school special ed teacher, and Temby, a tattoo artist, like to create somewhat spontaneous communal happenings.
Once they decided to hold a colossal water balloon fight and papered the city, inviting everyone to come. They filled 5,000 or so water balloons, about 100 people showed up, and it was over in five minutes.
Temby says the Ten Second Film Fest idea was kind of in the same spirit.
"Chris had one of those little digital still cameras," he says. "I noticed that it did like 10 seconds of video, and that was basically it. You know, just decided to put on a film fest, see how many people would send us movies."
Temby and Pennington thought 10 second films would have mass appeal, mainly because of the ubiquity of digital video. And it's not just cell phones and still cameras, according to Pennington.
"Well, I mean "The Sharper Image" I think throws a video into everything," he says. "There's a pen and a clock and a water bottle. Stuff like that."
The rules of the festival are pretty straightforward. No editing. No digital camcorders. No more than 10 seconds, give or take a few.
The films are funneled by Pennington and Temby into 10 different categories, including Comedy, Moment of Zen, (for all the meditative entries,) Side Ways, (for all the movies inadvertently shot side ways,) Art House, Most Disturbing, and What The Hell Am I Looking At.
It's almost like a cross between America's Funniest Home Videos and experimental filmmaker Matthew Barney.
"People have come up with all sorts of things. Like sometimes it's like, really super scripted when they have lines and costumes, and other times it's like some woman from Eden Prairie going 'Come here schmookums! Come here schmookums!' And then the dog comes and that's the end," Pennington says.
Actor, producer and cellist Catherine Campion entered six 10 second shorts in the festival, and four were accepted.
Campion's favorite is entitled "Rumspringa." It was inspired by the documentary "Devil's Playground," about Amish teenagers who are banished to the debauchery of the city to clarify their choice between staying in the church, or leaving.
The setting for Campion's film is a traditional Amish kitchen.
"You see a woman from behind and she's wearing an Amish dress and a bonnet and there's some steam coming out and you hear a tea kettle whisting and she's cooking on the stove, and then the camera comes around to the front of her and she's drinking a flask and smoking a cigarette," she says.
Campion says the festival's rules were challenging, but also freed her imagination. She says if you want to spur creativity in a project, impose constraints.
"Anything that you're working on on, if you start to give yourself some limitations, that's when the creativity kicks in because you've got to solve the problems," she says. "And one of the problems is 'hmmmm, how can we get this idea told in ten seconds?' "
Campion actually has held a number of different jobs in the film industry, but Chris Pennington says the festival is trying to reach the novice filmmaker, or even non-filmmakers.
Pennington says the festival is about as simple and un-intimidating as you can get.
"In ten seconds, no edit, it's like there's nothing even to it," he says. "You just go zzzzzzzzz--gah, and it's over. So, I don't know, to me it should be something everyone can do and I think maybe if more people did stuff this I think the whole world of art would be better, because art has become this terribly pretentious, high brow activity."
Think about the Soap Factory, says Pennington. That's the art gallery across the river from downtown Minneapolis where the Ten Second Film Festival will be screened tonight. He says the Soap Factory is the third most visited gallery in the Twin Cities with an average of 14 patrons a day.
"Fourteen in the art world and they'll say 'Oh that's pretty good,'" he says. "But, like, they got billboards on 94 that have 170,000 people a day. That's like five years of Soap Factory in one day. And that's an ad. So obviously it's like, art's kind of being hauled off into galleries that no one even goes to, and that's kind of lame." One winner in each of the 10 categories will be selected at the festival. They'll be chosen by three celebrity judges, who will pay close attention to an electronic applause-o-meter built especially for the event.
Pennington says more than 200 movies were entered, and 100 were accepted. In his opinion, 40 of those 100 were good.
"Which is pretty good," says Pennington.
- All Things Considered, 07/04/2006, 5:48 p.m.