Thinking Inside The Box

Right at the deadline, I submitted a one-minute movie to the Gotta Minute Film Festival here in Edmonton and the Toronto Urban Film Festival. Both festivals were accepting one minute silent films and video productions for screening on transit and shopping mall screens (and online). Like writing a great tweet, getting a movie with an actual story down to 60 seconds can be quite a challenge.

But the challenge can be a good one. 

It forced me to think about a single idea, something that could be captured and conveyed in just a few images. That got me thinking about the visuals a lot more than I think I tend to at the initial stages of a script. Normally I would be thinking about the characters and their story and what they’d be getting up to. But there is no time for a long story arc in a one minute film.

For this particular movie, I got one actor and one person to help me shoot. The movie had to be simple enough to pull off almost single-handedly which contrasts with, say, our shoot for Startups last year where two-dozen people were out on day one.

I’ve gotta say though, trying to think of an idea and get it down to just one minute of visual-only screen time was fun. And I hope it helps me think about longer-form projects in new ways. Like whether the visuals are giving the audience enough information about what’s going on, or whether things are being over-complicated simply because it’s a longer story or involves a lot of actors and crew.

Other than these one-minute film fests, I know there’s the 24/One, a 24-hour film challenge the Edmonton International Film Festival has each year. Do you know of any other film festivals that challenge people to work within a constrained set of rules?