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  • Fletcher, Ed - Sacramento / Courtesy of Tom Botchii

    Sacramento actor Rafael Siegel stars in a new short film by novice filmmaker Tom Botchii that draws on a suicide note Botchii wrote as a 15-year-old.

  • Courtesy of Tom Botchii

    Sacramento actor Rafael Siegel stars in a new short film by novice film maker Tom Botchii. While this film was created independently, Sacramento offers several structured film making challenges.

More Information

  • More information

    Sacramento Film Challenges

    Name: 48 Hour Film Festival

    Sponsor organization: Sacramento International Film Festival

    Important dates: 7 p.m. today – cast and crew call at the Studio Center, 915 Fee Drive; April 4 - challenge starts; April 26 - films screened

    Name: Place Called Sacramento Film Festival

    Sponsor organization: Access Sacramento

    Important dates: April 11 – script deadline; May 28 – cast and crew call; Oct. 5 – films screened

    Name: Horror Filmmaker Challenge

    Sponsor organization: Sacramento Horror Film Festival

    Important date: May 3 – films due

    Name: “Sac Music Seen” / 10x10 Filmmaker Challenge

    Sponsor organization: Sacramento Film and Music Festival

    Important dates: April 4 – music submissions due; July 20 – videos due

Budding filmmakers use dark fodder, contests to get movies made

Published: Friday, Mar. 21, 2014 - 12:00 am

Searching for inspiration, budding filmmaker Tom Botchii turned to a note he’d penned at 15 as a launching point for the short film he expects to release this month.

While Botchii took the typical route to get “11-minutes” made – he had an idea, wrote it, found the money, shot the film, edited it, then will submit it to film festivals – more Sacramento film projects are being produced as part of a structured film challenge.

There are four such challenges scheduled in the area. The number of participants fluctuates, but very few markets have four film events with film challenges, said Martin Anaya, director of the Sacramento International Film Festival.

The cast and crew call for the Sacramento International Film Festival’s “48 Hour Film Festival” is 7 p.m. today at The Studio Center. Once given the key film requirements April 4, participants have 48 hours to write, shoot and edit a film. As many as three dozen teams are expected to participate, with the completed films premiering April 26 at the Crocker Art Museum.

Screenwriters, filmmakers and actors interested in a more deliberate pace can participate in Access Sacramento’s “Place Called Sacramento Film Festival.” The process starts as a screenwriting contest for 10-minute shorts about or featuring Sacramento. The script deadline is April 11. Ten selected scripts are then made on a shoestring budget and premiere in October at the Crest Theatre.

Slasher fans are encouraged to participate in the Sacramento Horror Film Festival’s “Horror Filmmaker Challenge.” Unlike other film challenges, this contest has no mandatory lines of dialogue, props, locations, characters or actions. The task is to make a new film adhering to the theme: “Bound by horror: Slasher vs. zombie.” Films are due May 3.

Then there are the Sacramento Film and Music Festival, which offers a music video-making contest, “Sac Music Seen,” and the “10x10 Filmmaker Challenge.” Local musicians have until April 4 to submit songs. Local artists are then challenged to make videos for them. The 10x10 gives filmmakers 10 days to make a 10-minute movie involving a secret element. Dates for the 2014 10x10 have not been set.

“Just the biggest thing is the networking locally,” said Roseville-based actor David Peters. He said he parlayed a relationship with a 10x10 producer into a paid gig in the “Pizza Guys” television commercial. The challenges test participants’ teamwork as they try to make a worthy film on a hectic schedule, he said.

Matthew Gilliam, who has produced 10x10 and Place Called Sacramento films, said they’re a great opportunity for filmmakers to get their work in front of a large audience.

But Botchii, who works as a television producer and film editor, took a more wide-open approach to his film than a challenge allows. The self-funded film, which he describes as an action mind-bender, is his first. It was shot in Sacramento in February.

“The idea is to take on a topic that most people are afraid of,” said Botchii, who grew up in Oroville and now lives in Sacramento. “Don’t kill yourself. Just make a movie about it.”

He said his inspirational note, which is read in the film by a narrator, was written shortly after his brother died.

“This is the last time you'll hear from me,” the note begins. “All I ever wanted to do, was reach my full potential. But it's never going to happen ...”

But then, he said he started to reach, for solutions.

The film’s viewers will be left to take from the movie what they will, Botchii said.

Call The Bee’s Ed Fletcher, (916) 321-1269. Follow him on Twitter @NewsFletch.

Read more articles by Ed Fletcher

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