Thursday, May 17, 2007

5x8 Film Festival-part 2, The Players

Tyler (Just Tyler) is probably the only filmmaker in the room whose ambition is to become a farrier. This is her third 5 x 8 festival and she is upset by the vibe inside Atomix. Tyler and the rest of the Rainbows 4 Jeebus team, Clare Windhack-Nolan, Sarah Davis and Harley Gambill escape to Chicago Avenue to toss around ideas. They feel the film professionals are dominating the festival and the spirit of the event is lost. Also, the Rainbows 4 Jeebus team is at a disadvantage because they do not know how to edit, so they cut the film in the camera as they shoot.

The group’s first idea is something of a revenge film. “I don’t want to get sucked into the vortex of Lincoln Park,” Tyler explains. They plan to shoot stop motion animation of the group changing out of their overalls and work boots, and becoming consumers. Soon, they reject this idea as too hostile.

Serena Schonbrun, a copywriter at Leo Burnett, and Galina Shevchenko, an assistant editor at The Whitehouse, met at the 5 x 8 festival last year. Today they are best friends and head up Group 30, Gushing Artery Productions. Schonbrun, who also organizes a film collective called Group 101, loves the creative exercise of making a film start to finish in 21 hours. She calls the festival, “Sport Art,” and she and Shevchenko have participated in all but the first contest.

As Atomix clears out, the eight members of the Gushing Artery team take over a table near the front of the restaurant. Charles Leslie, an orthotist at the Rehabilitation Institute begins going over ideas. He runs through a series of scenarios about loss-- death scenes, missing persons, suicides. Schonbrun interrupts to suggest Group 18 talked themselves to death. Everyone laughs. Sid Froelich, an architect, suggests that Group 18 disappeared because the filmmaking process is cathartic and by participating in the festival, Group 18 became healthy. Elizabeth McNaughton an actor and improviser picks up on Froelich’s idea and suggests the members of group 18 never made a film because each member’s idea inspired the other members and they could not agree on a concept. After 45 minutes Gushing Artery comes up with an idea: A mocumentary about Group 18. Imagine a Behind the Music about Spinal Tap.

Ow MyEye is the name of Group 19. Leader, Joe Winston is an editor at Superior Street where he edits programs for HGTV and segments of Oprah. He went to the last 5 x 8 screening and wanted to participate this time. Winston is taking things very seriously. “I would definitely like to win, but it’s not about a prize. I already edit on an Avid.” Ow MyEye has 14 team members including two film instructors from Columbia College, a sound designer, an art department and an animated Ow MyEye logo. “I arrogantly thought we could raise the bar. I don’t know if we’ll do that, or just raise the expense account.”

After the topic is announced Winston and his team congregate outside at the corner of Damen and Chicago throwing around ideas. They are stymied by the topic. As Group 19 they feel they must meet the problems of Group 18 head on. Finally, they settle on an advertising based concept of Group 18 fever sweeping the city. “We are leaving a little bit of room for it not to be understood,” Winston says to no one in particular.

5 x 8 founders U’Ren and Paul are hamstrung. They must wait until Atomix closes before they begin to work. They are also busy making arrangements for the following night’s screening. They only have one 40-minute mini-dv cassette and Paul cannot edit during the day Saturday because Atomix is expecting a shipment of a high-octane energy drink called XTZ and he doesn’t want to miss it. Other than that, things are great.

When Atomix closes they sit down with some iced coffee and begin to brainstorm. They kick out what they think are six good ideas, but in the end they decide to put on costumes and walk around as Group 18 and see what happens. As their cameraman, Christian Matts, says (intentionally, or not) “They are going to go out there like a sail without a ship.” U’Ren and Paul seem to agree and out the door they head.

Part 3 tomorrow.


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