Filmmakers hope challenge won’t make fool of them

It’s crunch time for the 24 Sacramento filmmakers facing a Sunday deadline to complete their short entries for the Sacramento Film and Music Festival’s “10x10 Filmmaker Challenge.”

The 10-day guerrilla film challenge is one of a number of structured competitions that put filmmakers under time constraints to complete a project. They have two days to shoot and edit short films submitted to the Sacramento International Film Festival’s 48-hour Film Challenge. Access Sacramento’s “Place Called Sacramento” filmmaker challenge gives screenwriters the summer to complete 10-minute shorts.

The films for the 10x10 are due at 7 p.m. Sunday and will be screened at the Crest Theatre on Aug. 24 at 6 p.m. as part of the Sacramento Film and Music Festival.

As conceived, the 10x10 gave filmmakers 10 days to make a 10 minute movie, but with an abundance of teams participating, projects will be limited to eight minutes, said Nate Schemel, the director of the festival.

To ensure the films are shot during the prescribed window, filmmakers must incorporate the theme “Rules and Fools.” Each was given a “foolish” California law and a foolish prop on the launch day.

“You can do some amazing things in 10 days. I’m always amazed at what people can do when they are put in high-pressure situations,” said Schemel, who also teaches film at the Art Institute of California’s Natomas campus.

High pressure is something Sacramento film nut Gwen Conklin, 53, knows something about. In addition to writing, directing, and producing a short for the 10x10, she’s also still finishing the Place Called Sacramento film she’s involved in and running Capitol Film Art Alliance script readings.

“The 10x10 was a last-minute decision. I always try to come to the launch to help out (as an actress, script supervisor or other role),” Conklin said. “This year I decided ‘what the heck.’ ”

Unlike some who arrived at the Capitol steps for the launch with an intact team, she arrived with an idea for a script, lots of actor friends, but little to no crew outside of film editor Matt Salvo.

She left the launch thinking she had a crew, but the proposition was still touch-and-go into Saturday when she had to put the 10x10 out of her mind for a full-day shoot for the Place Called Sacramento film.

Sunday morning – 24 hours before she planned to shoot at the Studio Center – she still wasn’t sure she’d have a crew of people to run the camera, set the lights and record the audio. Once the issued were resolved, she had to write the script, draw a storyboard and buy food to feed the crew.

“Once I started typing, it came together,” Conklin said of the writing process. On Tuesday, she turned her attention back to her other film.

“It’s been a crazy few days,” she said.

The filmmakers involved include a mix of more seasoned filmmakers like Conklin and younger ones still learning the craft.

Henry Sketchley, 18, fits into the latter category, but having grown up in a video and filmmaking family, he’s got more hands-on experience than most entrants.

“I’ve been doing this for five or six years and I just graduated high school, so I kinda got a head start,” said Sketchley, whose parents own a video production company and helped on his 10x10 shoot.

Schemel said he’s looking forward to seeing where each of the filmmakers takes the theme.

“It’s more about getting their brain working and less about giving them restrictions,” Schemel said. “That is probably what is the most fun to me, seeing something creative that is just outside of the box.”